42. Matt & Marie's
1107 Walnut Street, Jefferson Hospital
A likeable husband-and-wife team of Wharton MBA grads own three downtown shops (other locations are at Rittenhouse Square and 18th and Arch), focusing on breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Give them credit for also focusing on top-notch ingredients – imported Italian provolone from Claudio's, meats from Licini Brothers, bread from Liscio's.
The $9.25 Meatball Parm is large enough for two to share, but tasty enough that you won't want to. It's a seeded roll packed with all-beef meatballs and topped with mild provolone, pecorino romano and homemade marinara sauce highlighted by San Marzano tomatoes. It's a fun, extra-cheesy sandwich.
The meatballs have a great texture – not too soft, not too bouncy. What keeps them a tick short of excellent is that they're all beef, not the more interesting blend of beef, veal and pork.
Why go all beef? Co-owner Nicole Marie Capp says many of their Center City customers have dietary restrictions to prevent them from eating pork. "We wanted them to have a great sandwich, too," she explains. OK, we get it.
Come here also for the "Italian Stallion," which, despite its cliché of a name, has a strong chance to compete the next time I get around to centering my annual food hunt on Italian hoagies.
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