1 4 S O U T H P H I L LY R E V I E W I M A R C H 1 4 , 2 0 1 8 I S O U T H P H I L LY R E V I E W. C O M
2 0 1 8 R E A D E R S’ C H O I C E AWA R DS Feeling like No. 1
“That’s awesome,” Primo Hoagies’ South Philly store manager Bill Jess said when he learned his store earned the best Italian hoagie honor in the Review’s Readers Choice Awards. “We’ve been waiting to hear back from you guys because every year this is the most important award we can win. It’s our customers, and our actual neighborhood means more than any other award we could possibly win. It’s the only one that matters.” Primo, like a lot of hoagie spots, uses Thumann’s meats and cheeses. But what really sets it apart is the bread, which, unlike a lot of hoagie spots, the company bakes itself. One other thing that makes it unique: you’re not going to break the bank for a sandwich. “We’re the lowest price around here,” said Jess. Rich and Colleen Neigre, who opened the store at 1528 W. Ritner St. more than 25 years ago, still own the place. “They all started making sandwiches, and his main thing was he used the best bread and meat he could possibly get,” Jess said. “He started selling to his buddies and then decided to open a store.” Jess said that every now and then Primo’s will mix up the formula, “but sticking to the actual original basics is what keeps us No. 1 year after year.” In addition to the quality of the hoagies and their ingredients, the other thing that really sets Primo’s apart, Jess feels, is the customer service you’ll find at the store. “We have a great relationship with the local neighborhood,” he said. “We appreciate every new customer. It takes years to gain one, and it takes a second to lose one. Every new customer is treated like one who’s been coming for ages. There’s no difference.” Ricci’s Hoagies, 1165 S. 11th St., and Pastaficio, 1528 Packer Ave., sandwiched their way into the second and third place spots, respectively.
and we appreciate their input - we’re here for them, after all.” Chick’s, 1807 Washington Ave., raised a glass to second place, while Mattei Family Pizza, 1260 Point Breeze Ave., took a slice of praise in third.
One more slice
Taste of something new
There is no doubt the South Philly restaurant scene is hot, so hot that new places are opening on a regular basis. The new restaurant category ended up being one of the tighter Readers’ Choice races, but in the end, Barcelona Wine Bar, 1709 E. Passyunk Ave., claimed the prize. The tasty Spanish tapas, and of course wine, registered high marks with customers. “It’s an honor to be acknowledged for this award. It’s truly a testament to our team, their hard work, and our commitment to this community,” general manager John Scott said. Barcelona took over the space previously occupied by A Man’s Image, which Abe Mandel owned for 60 years. The restaurant concept existed in other parts of the country. Including the New England area and Washington, D.C., before moving into the East Passyunk Crossing neighborhood. The newcomer on the avenue participated in
BARCELONA WINE BAR the recently wrapped up East Passyunk Restaurant Week. Scott and his team are excited about being part of the vibrant avenue scene. Customers come in throughout the day to enjoy tapas items or a glass of wine at the bar. Some are people they have gotten to know from neighboring businesses. “We have developed relationships with the local businesses that we really value, such as the hair salons, the cleaners, and the other shops the people working right around us have become some of our regulars and often recommend us to their customers,” Scott said. Pulpo, hanger steak, patatas bravas along with the jamón and manchego croquettes are some of the most popular items. With spring almost here, chef Will Shaw and his team plan on adding ramps
and some soft shell crab, but the exact date has yet to be confirmed. “One of the things I love most about what we do is how we’re always changing the menu based on what’s fresh and exciting while staying true to our concept - and our classic Spanish dishes are, of course, a constant on the menu.” Scott said. Shaw is one of the newer additions to the Barcelona team, replacing executive chef Paras Shah, who ran the kitchen when the restaurant opened last year. “Chef Will has a great approach to managing the kitchen and creating new dishes. He’s also willing to listen and take into account guest feedback, which has been very impactful,” Scott said. “Our guests like to get involved in South Philly,
For the second year in a row, City Pizza has been crowned winner of the Review’s Readers’ Choice Award for pizza. “I’m very happy with it,” the store’s manager Bruce Nagel said. “Customers seem to like it.” And there’s a lot to like. Nagle said some of the most popular items on the menu include the shop’s pulled pork pizza and the pizzazz. And of course there’s always good old plain and pepperoni. Even better, there are locations at Front Street and Snyder Avenue and 16th Street and Oregon Avenue. For those looking for a slight twist on the typical plain pie, there’s the “old style” pie, which features crushed tomato gravy, sliced mozzarella, and fresh garlic and parsley in a thin-crust square pizza. If you order it on a Thursday, it’s $1 off. Other selections from the menu include the buffalo chicken pizza, the meat lover’s pizza and the smothered fry pizza, which is a fresh, hand-tossed pizza smothered with french fries, three cheeses, bacon and ranch dressing. The business has had the same owner, Bob Petril, it’s had since it opened in 1993. That’s why, according to Nagel, the food is just as good now as it was then. “It’s the best way to have a business – don’t change the people and the food doesn’t change,” he said. “Same recipes and you don’t change anything. Consistency keeps the people happy.” Most of all, Nagel is very proud of taking the Continued on page 16>>
And the votes are in; Check out profiles on the best local staples of South Philly as chosen by our readers