Wednesday, November 3, 2010

DiNic's Roast Pork at Reading Terminal Market

Long lines on the weekend
TWSF bussed it up to Philadelphia, my hometown, to catch a regular season Phillies game (may they rest in peace). We did not have anything on the agenda the afternoon before the game, so we decided to seek out a unique Philly lunch. On a previous visit, I had taken the other blogger on the mandatory cliché tourist lunch to Pat’s and Geno’s and got cheeses steaks. Those weak excuses for a cheese steak are only good if you are from out of town or drunk after an Eagles game (they only received 2 and 2.5 'clogged arteries' by Philly Mag). I was brainstorming for a quality lunch destination when my old friend Eric suggested we head over to DiNic's in Reading Terminal Market for a hot roast pork sandwich. Eric lives and works in the area and assured us that this place was legit. Following his advice, we took a quick walk to the historic indoor market and boy was he right, DiNic’s is pretty amazing.

A Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Stand
Opened in 1892, Reading Terminal Market features more than 80 merchants selling everything under the culinary sun in a large indoor space the size of a city block. There are Amish exhibiting shoefly pies, Chinese offering peking duck, Italians displaying cured meats, farmers selling their produce direct to the public, and of course wiseguys slinging cheesteaks. Shortly after entering the market, Megan’s head began to spin, she could not decide where to focus her attention in the culinary bounty and was quickly overwhelmed by the enormity of the scene. It didn’t help that it was a Saturday and place was swarmed by suburbanites on the weekend migration downtown. I had seen the look that was stretched across Megan’s face once before, it was the same overwhelmed look of joy my brother had the first time we went to FAO Schwartz.

Roast pork with provolone and roasted peppers

We wandered around the expansive market for a while before finally spotting the DiNic’s sign looming over the crowds. There was a long line wrapping around their stand, which is always a good sign. We had ample time in line to contemplate our order and solicit input from people sitting at the counter. We decided to split one of the huge roast pork sandwiches (people were leaving with half of their sandwich wrapped) and add sharp provolone and roasted sweet peppers as toppings.

When we were half way through the line, we lucked out and scored two seats at the counter and quickly put our order in.The only thing worse than being hungry is standing in line hungry and watching people eat what you are waiting in line for.

The sandwich was phenomenal. The hand carved meat was an amaizing combination of flavor, tenderness, warmth, and juiciness. The roll had the optimal ratio of outer crunch and inner softness which is pretty typical of Philadelphia rolls (I wish I could say the same for DC rolls). The provolone complemented the pork very well and the peppers added another dimension to the taste and texture. It was refreshing to eat a sandwich in Philadelphia that was devoid of grease and cheese wiz. The pork sandwich tasted fresh and had the deep rich flavor and subtile nuances to set it apart from any sandwich that I have had in recent memory.

I love cheesesteaks as much as anyone in the Philadelphia area, but judged purely on sandwich quality I'd take a DiNic's every time. But next time I visit, I will not be splitting my sandwich.

Tommy DiNic's Roast Pork and Beef on Urbanspoon

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