The Best Roast Pork Sandwiches In Philadelphia guide image

PHLGuide

The Best Roast Pork Sandwiches In Philadelphia

Slow roasted pork, broccoli rabe, and melted provolone. Who’s hungry?

In this sandwich-obsessed town, there’s a relentless argument about which reigns supreme: the cheesesteak or the roast pork sandwich. But like Godfather I and Godfather II, we can’t choose a winner–they’re both iconic in their own right, and there’s a time and a place for each.

We’re eternally grateful to whoever first decided to put juicy, slow-roasted pork, garlicky sauteed broccoli rabe (or spinach), and provolone on an Italian roll. It’s a marvel we put in the same category as the invention of the airplane, or Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. These are our 12 favorite spots dishing up this classic combination, giving us the warm and fuzzies with each bite.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

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Tommy DiNic's

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51 N 12th St, Philadelphia
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Tommy DiNic’s should be synonymous with magnificence—or, at the very least, how roast pork sandwiches should be. One of the main attractions of heading to Reading Terminal Market is standing in its line, usually longer than the one around the Louvre, and waiting for this sandwich (which is as precious as anything in that museum). They offer both sliced roast pork and Italian-style pulled pork versions here. Though we prefer the latter, both are a beautiful, delicious mess, and are topped with broccoli rabe, provolone, and long hots. On a busy day there’s rarely seating left inside the terminal, so it’s good to know that the sandwich won’t fall apart when you take it to go and eat on the sidewalk—right next to that random guy always singing R&B. 


Paesano’s technically opened in late 2022, but they also opened in 2008, 2010, and 2011 (still with us?). All of this is to say that they’ve been making sandwiches for a while and that time is a meaningless, flat circle. Those years of experience have helped this Italian Market shop perfect the art of sandwich making. And while we like every one, we’re having a love affair with the Arista. From the incredibly juicy pork and thick-cut provolone to tender broccoli rabe and pillowy bread, it’s the perfect balance of softness and crunch. Although the scent of pasta and risotto balls fills the air, this sandwich is so massive that the only extra request you’ll have is to crank up the volume on the Frank Sinatra playing in the background.


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John’s is arguably the best roast pork sandwich shop in town, and it’s no wonder–they’ve been making them in the same counter-service shop in South Philly since 1930. The thinly sliced, slightly spicy meat is dripping in garlicky juice from the pan, while the roll is crispy enough on the outside to stand up to the incredibly juicy inside. It’s simply a miracle. 


Dattilo’s is a small deli with excellent sandwiches that are perfect for a quick lunch or a picnic at nearby Pennypack Park. It’s also a great choice if you’re in the Northeast and have a craving for meat, bread, and cheese on a roll (we realize this could be daily). All of the sandwiches here are huge–we’re talking the length of Joel Embiid’s forearm–but it’s the roast pork sandwich that always gets our attention. The pork is thick cut, while the crunchy broccoli rabe and slices of sharp provolone provide a sweet and earthy balance to the salty meat. It’s a true demonstration of the power of quality ingredients, and if we don’t eat at least one a week, even our cats will notice how crabby we’ve become. 


Just because we’re in a city with some insanely good, high-end restaurants doesn’t mean we stop getting roast pork cravings every time we see a broccoli rabe-colored sticker on a light pole. At Jaxx Steaks in Dickinson Narrows, every sandwich is solid (especially those on their soft Italian rolls). But it’s the roast pork that we could consume in 20 seconds or less if you timed us. Here’s the deal: tender cuts of pork, bits of sharp provolone sprinkled all over, and a cup of oniony broth to drench the entire sandwich. It’s a gluttonous, gorgeous mess. And if you, like us, are in the category of people who refuse to choose between roast porks and cheesesteaks, you can’t go wrong with this place.


photo credit: GAB BONGHI

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Woodrow's Sandwich Shop

Most people come to South Street’s Woodrow’s only for the cheesesteak. We used to make that mistake, too. But after trying a couple roast pork sandwiches, it's difficult to stick to chopped steak and cheese on a roll. The roast pork here is completely different than anywhere else in the city: the pork is pulled, the broccoli rabe is diced, the provolone is aged and shredded, there are bits of long hots tossed throughout the whole mix, and a long hot aioli is spread on the bread. The slightly spicy sandwich is truly a testament to engineering–you can’t believe how much gets stuffed into the super soft roll.


George’s Sandwich Shop in Bella Vista has been on South 9th Street since 1936. The classic window-service spot is known for its veal tripe sandwiches, but if you ask us, the PBR sandwich—their roast pork—is the one to get here. The long Italian roll is crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and generously portioned (but never overstuffed). With the way the provolone and broccoli rabe cuts through the pork like a savory rainbow breaking through a meaty cloud, you’ll see why this place deserves a spot on the Mount Rushmore of Philly sandwich shops.


When we’ve finally convinced our one wavering friend to try a roast pork for the first time, we take them to Shank’s on the waterfront. And after they give it a try, we usually get a heartfelt apology in the form of a scented candle or new house plant for taking so long to have some sense. Their sandwich is everything we want in a traditional roast pork: a hefty combo of thick-cut meat, tender veggies with a peppery kick, and melted cheese on a sesame seed roll. When we’re finished eating it we look back on it fondly, like the over-complimentary people we meet in the club bathroom or our childhood summer camps. Thankfully, the feeling of sadness doesn’t last long–we can just come back tomorrow.


This South Philly corner spot is the kind of place that will make you fall in love with Philly sandwiches (aka, everything here is great). But it’s the roast pork sandwich we seek out to console us after an Eagles loss or any time we hear a rumbling in our stomachs. It combines slow-roasted, shredded pork loin, slightly crunchy broccoli rabe, and broken bits of provolone that look like puzzle pieces. We suggest you go early because it’s the kind of place that can sell out any day of the week. Everyone knows that this small mountain of meat, cheese, and sauteed veggies is more comforting than sitting by a fire on a 20-degree day. 


Jack’s Place is a family-run corner deli in the Northeast that consistently demonstrates the combined power of bread, meat, and cheese. The first and most important thing you'll notice about their roast pork is how the pile of meat, broccoli rabe, and bright peppers look like it’s too much for the soft toasted bun to hold. But once the sandwich makes the trip to your mouth, you’ll be impressed–not only by the tender pork-to-toppings ratio, but the firmness of the bread that holds the juiciness all together. If you’re anything like us, you’ll inhale this blend of crunchy peppers, garlicky rabe, and tender meat in a few minutes. And since this place closes each day when they run out of rolls, we suggest you get there early.


The roast pork at Dickinson Narrows’ Cosmi’s Deli is a work of art—juicy slabs of pork are layered with your choice of marinated broccoli or spinach, sweet provolone cheese, and packed in a seeded or seedless hoagie roll. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure roast pork experience—go with rabe and a seeded roll for slight bitterness and a nutty crunch, and spinach and a regular roll for more buttery flavor. Whichever road you take, the destination is delicious.


Whether you’re team spinach or team broccoli rabe (debate amongst yourselves), or your out-of-town friend can’t compute that although it’s on a hoagie roll, it’s not a hoagie, the roast pork at Fishtown's Johnny Hots is so good that any sandwich argument will disappear. For just $10, you can get a generous amount of perfectly salty meat beautifully balanced out by the slightly sweet, soft roll. To create a classic roast pork, you’ll have to pay for add-ons ($1 each for sharp provolone, broccoli rabe, or spinach), and they have more topping options than Katy Perry has hits. But with their pork as the base, classic is the way to go. 

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