Need a plumber? How about an electrician? Stand in line at the new Pier 40 location of Shank's, and you can easily find a repairman to fix your sink. Or your lights. Or probably anything that's broken.
The South Philly location of Shanks Original (original location near the Italian Market closed and reopened on 15th St. in Center City last summer, and they added a second location at Pier 40 along Columbus Blvd. at the end of 2009) appears to be a great location for working men and their trucks to easily pull in for a traditional Philly hoagie lunch break.Not quite as mod and glam as the architect's rendering, this small box on the side of the road has little indoor space for placing orders, but smartly has a window that opens up to take orders from the long lunch lines that form outside. When warm weather arrives, perhaps the patio area will be filled with tables and seats, as the architect envisioned.There are two veggie hoagies on the Shank's menu (not counting the breakfast hoagies, which I'll have to return for — egg, cheese, potato, and spinach sounds like a good combo to me), and I tackled them both.
The Eggplant sandwich can be ordered Shank's Style (pan-fried, lightly breaded eggplant with greens and homemade gravy) or Parmagiana Style (pan-fried, lightly breaded eggplant with homemade gravy and Provolone).
I went Shank's Style with spinach instead of broccoli rabe. Every thing — eggplant, spinach, and a mound of tomato gravy — goes on the grill to get heated before being tucked into the long Italian roll. What I liked about this sandwich were the ultra thin slices of eggplant with crispy fried edges. No thick-cut spongy eggplant here.
The Veggie with pan-fried, lightly breaded eggplant, broccoli rabe, roasted peppers and Sharp Provolone was not different enough from the Eggplant to really warrant another listing in the sandwich column, in my opinion; it's all just a fried eggplant hoagie. Slap some gravy on The Veggie and you've essentially got the Eggplant.
Always a fan of sauce, though, I preferred the Eggplant. And bitter broccoli rabe is not a favorite of mine, but I braved it just in case they laid their hands on a mild bunch. They didn't.
While these are great hoagies (the thin-sliced eggplant is a revelation) from an iconic Philly hoagie maker, this non-native Philadelphian will never be head over heals for the Philly-style veggie hoagie with fried eggplant, broccoli rabe, and Sharp Provolone that can be found at Chickie's and other Philly hoagie institutions. It's just not in my blood.
Shank's Original at Pier 40
901 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19147