I finally visited the original location to find out if I missed Matt & Marie's glory days before the challenges of expansion hit home. The sandwich shop is set up similar to a Subway where you order at one end and the hoagie is passed along the queue. It's quick and efficient, but leaves you wondering if the pre-sliced meat is fresh and high quality.
No need to worry. After the first bite of their Italian Stallion, you know Matt & Marie's brings it with the meat. Their combination of Molinari fennel salami, Genoa salami and sweet coppa hits your tastebuds like a cured-meat Starburst. Unlike bland provolone used by so many other shops, Matt & Marie's uses Claudio's, which is actually sharp. Clearly, the foundation of the Italian Stallion has all the makings of a great hoagie. Unfortunately, a house needs more than a foundation and that's trouble with this place.
The bread lacked freshness and had a Wawa-like quality. Not, bad, but certainly not good enough match Hoagie Quest's best. My two biggest issues, though, were with the hoagie's construction and the pepperoncini aioli.
|Good flavor but poorly spread|
While the pepperoncici aioli tasted quite good, to a traditionalist like myself it's a sneaky trick to get around the no-mayo-on-an-Italian rule. The flavor also overpowers the quality meat and cheese. I would prefer to have a pepperoncini oil instead.
In the end, Matt & Marie's makes a good hoagie and I'd definitely go back to try others, but I'm leery of the expansion since the execution was already lacking at the original location. Also, be mindful of the "modern Italian" tagline and as you will want to hunt somewhere else for a traditional hoagie.
Italian Stallion from @mattandmaries. Both a great sandwich and disappointing from major execution issues. Meat and cheese are high quality but cheese not evenly spread along with the peppers. Pepperoncini aioli is good but hides flavors of sandwich and too close to the no mayo on an Italian golden rule. #phillygram #sandwichquest #22ndandphilly #phillyfoodie #hoagie #hoagiequest