The Oldest Hoagie Shop In Philly Came Before Cheesesteaks

When you think of the city of Philadelphia, what comes to mind? Perhaps the Liberty Bell, the red, stacked LOVE sculpture, or maybe the famous scene in "Rocky" in which he runs up the 72 steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art? For us — and, we're willing to bet, for most food lovers — it's gotta be a Philly cheesesteak.

Like any well-loved, iconic food, a Philly cheesesteak can take many forms depending on who's making it and where it's being served. But generally, this famous sandwich consists of a chewy, elongated roll stuffed with chopped or sliced beef, browned onions, and melty Provolone cheese, or, often, canned Cheez Whiz (via Serious Eats). Served all over the city as well as in neighboring towns (via Eater), cheesesteaks are basically synonymous with Philly and, of course, its many sandwich shops. But, did you know that one of Philadelphia's oldest and most well-loved hoagie joints actually predates the City of Brotherly Love's most famous food?

Ricci's opened its doors in 1920, a decade before cheesesteaks arrived

Whether you know it as a sub, a grinder, a hero, or a hoagie, these varied sandwich terms all refer to the same thing: a long sandwich roll that's typically stuffed with cold cuts including sliced meats and cheeses, plus lettuce, tomatoes, and a dressing such as mayo, mustard, or oil and vinegar (via Bon Appétit). That last term, hoagie, is a specifically Philadelphian word and the sandwiches have been eaten across the city for a long time — at least since 1920.

In that year, beloved Italian sandwich shop Ricci's Hoagies opened up, and operates to this day in South Philadelphia. Like any good Italian sub sandwich joint, Ricci's 'wiches feature ingredients such as pepperoni, prosciutto, and provolone, all piled onto a long Italian roll. Since the Philly cheesesteak was invented by neighboring sandwich shop Pat's King of Steak's in 1930, according to Philadelphia Magazine, Ricci's predates its city's most famous sandwich by a decade.

Ricci's does not serve cheesesteaks, leaving that icon to fellow sandwich shops such as Dalessandro's and John's Roast Pork (via Serious Eats). But, its hoagie offerings are more than enough for its hometown, with Philadelphia's tourism board stating that the shop has been "perfecting the art of the hoagie" for more than a century.