Moyamensing & Moore
Oh Gooey Looie's, why have you ruined other hoagies for me? You may not be the prettiest girl at the dance, but you are the one who gets down and dirty on the first date. Every time we cross paths, a tree dies in the form of a roll of paper towels, but I wouldn’t change a thing about you.
First of all, unless you are in the know, there is NO WAY you have been to or heard of Gooey Looie's. It is in the Pennsport Mall, a sad, weird pseudo-strip mall from the 70’s and you have to access it from Moyamensing (3rd) street. Second of all, unless you are coming off of a recommendation, you would completely disregard this strange little hoagie shop - located smack-dab in the middle of said strip mall. Lastly, you would be making one big (if not THE biggest) mistake of your previously wimpy hoagie eating career should you not venture into said hoagie shop.
When I first started going to Gooey Looie's, it had been a long time coming. I never really found myself in the neighborhood, so I never made it in. That is, until I moved just around the corner. Now, I am not saying I moved there specifically for these hoagies, but let’s just say, it didn’t hurt (neither did Los Jalapenos).
Gooey Looie's is an old shop, deep in South Philly, with a “no nonsense” attitude. People of all walks of life will be sitting in this little place, waiting for their orders. There are two small tables, but they are really just for people who are waiting for their sandwiches – not the type of “eat in” tables you might expect to see.
A sign inside says that they have “award winning chicken salad,” and although I have eaten the chicken salad, and it is quite delicious, it is only a supporting member of the all-star cast. The real Gooey Looie’s show-stoppers are the cheesesteak/cheesesteak hoagie and the Italian hoagie.
Okay, personal revelation time. I eat A LOT. I mean, I am the person who eats my food plus someone else’s un-eaten portions most of the time. Gooey Looie's sandwiches are too big for me to eat by myself. Seriously. These sandwiches are MASSIVE – a solid pound and a half, at least. What really makes me wonder is how they give you so much for $6-7.
This is no gourmet sandwich shop. Far from it. This is a real-deal high-quality South Philly hoagie joint. No fancy meat or rolls, but you WILL NOT be disappointed. This is exactly what a hoagie should be. Now I love me some expensive, imported cured meat and finely aged cheeses, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade, and a traditional hoagie is not made by those ingredients. At Gooey Looie’s, you will find ham and salami on your hoagie, with provolone; and unlike some (albeit most) hoagie places, you will not be left wanting for lack of meat/cheese.
When you open your first Gooey Looie’s sandwich torpedo, you might look around for a hidden camera. It feels like a joke. “How am I supposed to eat this thing, when it is bigger than my thigh?” Well, my friend, you simply grab a handful of paper towels, throw your inhibitions to the wind and dive in head first. Hopefully you ordered your Italian with “the works” a massive combination of mayo, hoagie oil, lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers and a shake of salt, pepper & oregano. It is truly hoagie heaven. Only thing is, you might need an extra roll. To quote the late, great Mitch Hedberg when commenting on the meat portions doled out at New York delis, “will there be anything else? Yea, a loaf of bread and some other people!”
Oh and on to the cheesesteak. Once again, the portions are enormous. A roll that is just stretched to the breaking point with greasy, cheesy goodness. One thing I really appreciate is that they chop their meat finely. This is my preferred method of steak-on-roll delivery. I have had many, many steaks from many places, and I always prefer not pulling out half of the meat in one bite when the meat is not well chopped. Some people might say that this is to hide the quality of the steak, well then go eat your $100 Barclay Prime steak, I am not impressed. When I want steak, I want it CHOPPED! Although I normally order extra cheese, as most places skimp on my creamy American fix, Gooey Looie’s, is no such place. The cheese is ample, and coats the meat and finely chopped caramelized onions, like a wetsuit - snug, and suitable for the circumstances. I often get the fabled cheesesteak hoagie (with the works), which is the best of both worlds adding the hoagie toppings to an already packed cheesesteak. At $7.25, you can honestly split a cheesesteak with someone and be good to go for lunch without pinching the wallet. Just make sure you get plenty of napkins (and possibly a garden hose), and don’t say they didn’t warn you, I mean it’s called Gooey Looie’s for a reason.