PITTSBURGH - Nearly 25,000 votes were submitted on WPXI.com and on Aug. 2 we surprised the winners of the Pittsburgh’s Best Hoagies contest.
Finishing in 3rd place was the Triangle Bar & Grill in Swissvale.
At the Triangle, it’s all about tradition, and it all started with the now famous Battleship Hoagies.
“It was created by the previous owners,” said owner Tom Crombie. “Our family has had it for 30 years, the previous owners had it for 34. Joe and John Catanzano and their father created the sandwich 64 years ago. So it’s been that long. They were all in the military, in the Navy, and that’s where the name came from.”
The production of these more than 2-foot long subs runs like a well-oiled machine. Each day, 300 to 400 fresh loaves of bread are brought in from bakeries in East Liberty and Swissvale.
Tom estimates that the Triangle has served up more than a million Battleships over the past decade.
“It’s been a tradition for so long. It’s generational. People just keep coming back,” Tom said.
Angelia’s Pizza in North Fayette, our 2nd place winner, has kept its customer coming back for more than 15 years.
“We use fresh ingredients. And we eat everything that we make obviously, and a lot of the ingredients and lot of the hoagies are actually developed by the crew that works here,” said owner Dave Eaton.
One of the most popular hoagies created by the Angelia’s crew is the Crafton Special.
It’s an Italian hoagie with a little something extra.
“Mushrooms, green peppers and hot peppers, pepperoni and sausage and extra cheese,” Dave said.
All of Angelia’s hoagies start with bread from Cellone’s Bakery in Pittsburgh, just like our 1st place winner, The Bethel Deli in Bethel Park.
For the past 9 years, owner Don Custer ran the deli himself, but since winning 1st place in the taste test portion of the contest business is booming, so he brought his mother and sister in for backup.
“Oh it’s insane. It’s [business] doubled at least,” Don said. “Can’t keep food in here. I have to go shopping twice a week. People line up out the door.”
People are lining up for what Don calls a “Real” Italian hoagie. So what does that mean exactly?
“No junk meat. No cooked ham, no boiled salami, no American cheese. Everything’s fresh, everything’s top grade. Best olive oil, best meat, best cheese, Cellone’s bread every day,” Don said.
Also popular is the Jersey Style sub. It has hot ham, pepperoni, salami and provolone, just like the Italian, but it’s topped with cherry peppers and Italian seasoning.
HOW THE CONTEST BEGAN:
Hundreds of nominations were submitted to WPXI.com and the 10 restaurants with the most nominations were named as our finalists. The finalists were invited to participate in a taste test at the Channel 11 studios.
Each submitted an Italian hoagie and a specialty hoagie of their choice for the blind test.
Finishing in 1st place in the taste test was The Bethel Deli in Bethel Park. In 2nd place was The Real McCoy Sandwich Shop on the South Side. After the judges' vote there was a tie for 3rd place between Triangle Bar & Grille in Swissvale and Angelia's Pizza in North Fayette. Also receiving high scores from the judges was Peppi's Old Tyme Sandwich Shop on the North Side and the Main Street Deli in Munhall.
TOP 10 FINALISTS:
Angelia's Pizza, North Fayette 3rd Place Taste Test (Tie), 2nd Place Public Vote
Bethel Deli, Bethel Park 1st Place Taste Test, 1st Place Public Vote
Real McCoy Sandwich Shop, South Side 2nd Place Taste Test
Triangle Bar & Grille, Swissvale 3rd Place Taste Test (Tie), 3rd Place Public Vote
SPECIAL SECTION: Pittsburgh's Best
1. The Top 10 Hoagies will first be determined by the number of valid nominations received and second, by the willingness of the restaurants to participate.
2. The nomination process will open Friday, June 24, 2011 and close Friday, July 8, 2011 at 1 p.m. Our finalists will be determined at that time.
3. A taste test will take place at the Channel 11 studios during the week of July 18. Each finalist must deliver a sample of their hoagies for the test. If a restaurant does not show up for the taste test they will be disqualified.
4. Voting will open to the public Wednesday, July 20 at 1 p.m. on WPXI.com and close Thursday, July 28 at 1 p.m.
5. The winners will be revealed during the week of Aug. 1. Award plaques will be given to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners as determined by the public vote. Award certificates will be given to the remaining finalists.
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