Just when you think there are just enough subs / heros / grinders / hoagies in town, somebody throws a new twist into the mix. This time that twist comes from the Philadelphia-based sandwich ... oops, Hoagie ... shop ensconced in the last little strip center on the right at the end of Rehoboth Avenue, just before you merge onto Coastal Highway.
The owner has another of these little joints in Exton, PA, and is hoping to open another soon. Several young and energetic members of the family have moved to the Rehoboth Beach area just to run the shop.
UPDATE, spring 2013: This update has replaced an earlier update from fall 2012 where evidence pointed to the fact that PrimoHoagies had recovered from their notorious slump in service. And indeed, it seemed that they had. However, we recently called to place a large order on a Friday at 6:30 (we called earlier that day and were told they were open 'til 7) for what would probably have totaled about $70 worth of subs. As soon as the clerk answered he warned me that they were closing soon and that they were out of bread. Out of bread? A sub shop? When I asked about that, he told me that they simply had no interest in "...baking bread that they might have to throw away." Then he cheerfully said "Sorry 'bout that," and hung up. Of course we were all disappointed. Casapulla's South closes at 7:30. We arrived there at 7:10 and they happily made our 7 subs with nary a complaint or even a hint of attitude -- on nice fresh rolls. We paid about $80, including chips. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.
I'm not going to adjust the ratings just yet, in hopes that this is a one-time event. But apparently the adult management that had been promised by the owner is a thing of the past.
Now back to the program already in progress:
Though the theme is obviously Italian hoagies (they have 18 Italian varieties from which to choose), they'll happily whip you up a roast pork, turkey, roast beef, corned beef, ham, tuna, bologna or buffalo chicken hoagie with your choice of a long list of toppings. My favorite area of the menu is The Diablos. If you like spicy, go there. On our first visit I had the Italian Diablo [pictured, left]. Bracing sopresatta (a cayenne-laced soft Italian salami) is paired with sharp provolone cheese, Capicola ham (a dry-aged, spicy Italian ham) and the standard choices of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc. Their signature spices will definitely get your attention.
On another visit I ordered the Turkey Schwartzie. This is similar to the regular Schwartzie, but sub turkey for the corned beef. Add swiss, slaw and Russian dressing and you have a reuben-on-a-roll. The Schwartzie features Thumann's brand corned beef. It's lean and moist, with a tiny hint of cinnamon and clove. It's cut razor thin. The Schwartzie is also available with roast beef.
Another variation on the theme is the Abruzzi [pictured, right]. Broccoli rabe takes you by surprise as you bite into the roast pork and sharp provolone. It's a favorite of one of my Favorite Foodies. Roast pork and sharp provolone are squeezed into the crunchy seeded roll with broccoli rabe. Rabe lovers will love this one.
One of my favorite Foodies-at-Arms always tests a place by ordering the meatball sub [pictured, above right]. Now I can't get him to order anything else. He says the meatballs stand up to any restaurant around here, and are made even better by the shredded parm/romano mixture and the particularly nice rolls.
Speaking of rolls, PrimoHoagies' bread is what sets them apart from the other sandwich places here in town. They are not the basic soft sub roll you normally encounter (not that there is nothing wrong with that!). These rolls are a bit firmer, with a lightly crisp crust (coated in sesame seeds) but a light, yeasty interior. Not only do they provide a stable foundation for all the fillings, sauces and stuff, but they taste great. I made the young guy behind the counter promise that the rolls would ALWAYS be fresh. We'll see if he keeps that promise. If he does, then we have a big winner in the bread department here in Rehoboth Beach.
Other choices include the "Cutlet Combos," where chicken cutlets are paired with everything from bleu cheese to buffalo sauce, to ham, to provolone...you name it. I'm sure these are OK, but I'll stick with my Italians, thank you.
There's a little cold case off to the side where they sell their sauces, slaw, salamis, etc. Some of the goodies would make for nice party appetizers. Have you tried any of these? Post your comments below and share your thoughts with us all.
RehobothFoodie.com's eternal veggie-head and official seeker of the perfect Grilled Cheese will love the "Meatless Delights" section. I'll leave it to her to pass judgment on that. Primohoagies also does party trays, sampler trays and catering. A big value-added is that they deliver across the highway and also all the way down to the beach (note the $20 minimum order for delivery).
In the off-season, call them to see if they're open (302) 727-5476. Click here for a look at their basic menu. (L., D) Price range: Inexpensive.