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The Sub Crawl

January 3, 2016

veltre's.pngThere is a distinct difference between a Pittsburgh hoagie and a Boston sub. For one, you can’t pay someone to bake your Italian sub in Boston – there must be a blue law about it somewhere. You can get a hot steak sub, or a hot meatball sub, but ask someone to throw your Italian sub in the pizza oven for a few minutes and they look at you like you’re from, well, Pittsburgh. (Other differences: Boston subs have pickles, hot peppers, and more meat. Not necessarily bad things, but when you grow up with a hoagie, you’re a hoagie girl for life.)

I’ve become fixated on this difference in the last few months (read: intensely craving a Pittsburgh hoagie), so when I arrived back in my home town for the holidays I announced that I must devour the best sandwich within a reasonable distance. From that, the “sub crawl” was born. My family and I visited three sub shops within 2 hours, each ate 1/4 of each sandwich, and voted on the following metrics, ranked 1-3 (half points allowed):

Authenticity: Hoagie must be baked, and must have Italian dressing, no mayo.
Freshness: Vegetables (lettuce, tomato, onion), must be fresh.
Bread: Must have a baked crunch but be neither too hard nor too soft.
Meat Selection: Turns out that the only meats on Italian hoagies in Pittsburgh are salami and ham, plus provolone cheese. I never realized this. So this category turned into more of a “Meat taste” than meat selection.
Accompaniments: This didn’t factor into the overall score, but we did take note of them.
Price was not factored in, though they ranged from $6.95- 11.25.

Contender #1: Sam’s Subs, Fox Chapel.
Second Runner up with 8 points, mostly due to a poor showing on veg freshness and authenticity. The meats were heated up on the griddle, which gave them a bit of a char, and the actual sandwich wasn’t baked, so the bread was too soft. However, the excellent French fries would be a reason to go back, even though they did not factor into voting.


Contender #2: Italian Village Pizza, Fox Chapel:
First runner up with 9.5 points, only losing to Veltre’s due to vegetables being slightly less fresh. Others also thought there was too much dressing on this sandwich, but I disagree. Extremely tough call between this and our winner. (Also, no accompaniments to this sandwich, though it was a bigger sandwich in general.)

italian village.png

Contender #3: Veltre’s Pizza, Oakmont (pictured at top):
Overall Winner with 10.5 points, this sandwich scored no lower than a 2 in any one category, with a 3 for authenticity and “generous chips” as the accompaniment. Perfect amount of dressing, fresh veg, and nice crust on the bread. Exactly what I was looking for.

So there you have it. If you ever feel like eating a lot of processed meat to get your fix of an authentic Pittsburgh hoagie, run down to Veltre’s and enjoy!

Note: Now that I’m back in Boston, I will say that perhaps the best Boston sub is from Bob’s. And I do enjoy the pickles.

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