Grinders are what I call 'em, due to many formative years living in New England, but elsewhere in the country monster meat/cheese/veg sandwiches go by other names, most easy to understand: submarine, torpedo, and zeppelin for the blimp-shaped roll; hero for the formidable size. Some, though, were more of a stretch, like po' boy (likely an abbreviation of the Creole pourboire, "for drinks"; in old New Orleans, certain charitable organizations handed out hefty sandwiches instead of spare change to the poor). Perhaps the most esoteric name of all is hoagie, which remains the preferred term in South Jersey despite the 1994 demise of New Brunswick's legendary Greasy Tony's, where the most unforgettable ingredient option was "extra grease."
But despite the convoluted explanation of the nickname (it was probably derived from a misspelling and mispronunciation of the meal-size "hoggie" sandwiches consumed by Italian immigrant workers at Philly's Hog Island Shipyard during World War I), "hoagies" was definitely catchy enough combined with "Pogies" on the sign to make this little indie pizza place seem more appealing than the many competing Italian fast-food chains as I cruised Brickell one recent evening.
Pogies' Own Hoagie turned out to be not bad, but not even close to Greasy Tony's. In fact extra grease in the dressing, and a decrease in vinegar, would've worked better considering the very insubstantial sub roll used; the airy bread waterlogged within minutes. I also personally favor New England's "Greek style" greater proportion of veggies to meat, as well as greater variety of veggies than just a little lettuce, tomato, and onion -- particularly fresh green peppers. These were absent in Pogies' hoagie, as were advertised pepperoncini. But the sandwich was very large for the price ($4.75 for a whole), and contained generous amounts of cheese (domestic provolone) and meat (Polish ham and Genoa-like salami). Tip: This hoagie is tastier toasted, with the veggies and a little Hellman's mayo added after heating.
Pogies' pizza was definitely a big step up from the fare at the chain pizzerias down the block, medium-thick-crusted New York-style pies like Steve's rather than super-thin Italian pizzas like Spris, but handmade with chewy fresh dough. Crisp crusts with burn bubbles are possible since pies are baked in a brick oven, but you have to ask for them well done. As for toppings, my small All the Way came so packed with sausage, ham, and pepperoni that a more accurate name would have been the MegaMeat. There was ample cheese but not enough tomato sauce, and, sadly, no garlic. Fresh garlic was available as a $2 extra, but $12.95 for a twelve-inch pizza already seemed stiff, even if my supposedly one-person pie fed three.
"Famous" calzones of the same housemade-daily dough were excellent, especially one stuffed with sautéed spinach ($4.25 individual, $6.75 for a two-diner "small") and an unusual model featuring a veal cutlet -- real, not molded minced meat ($8.75 small). Aside from their featured ingredients, the calzones came filled with ricotta, topped with melted mozzarella, and accompanied by a bowl of pungently spiced tomato sauce. The spinach calzone was supposed to have garlic, but didn't.
While Pogies claims to have fare suitable for Atkins dieters, very good rolls dripping with intense garlic butter (six for $1.50) make it seem simpler to balance those starches with some cholesterol. Finish up with Pogies' one homemade dessert, a chewy, fudgy brownie far better than its unappealing, cellophane-wrapped appearance would suggest.
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