From the day the DiNic’s Pork & Beef sign went up in Montgomeryville PA the brand recognition has been drawing in curious and hungry customers, noted owner Frank DiClaudio.
“The only way people really know about us from our soft opening in Montgomeryville is seeing the sign or by word of mouth, and some Facebook stuff.”
Many of those fans no doubt know about the Italian-style pork and beef sandwiches through the South Philadelphia operations that have held forth at 10th Street and Oregon Avenue and 10th and Reed streets (both now closed); Kitty Hawk Avenue and Snyder Avenue (DiNic’s Tavern), both still owned and operated by DiClaudio’s father, Frank DiClaudio, who founded the business with his cousin Tommy Nicolosi — thus the intermingled moniker, DiNic’s — 40 years ago.
When the cousins split up the partnership, Nicolosi took the Reading Market location, known as Tommy DiNic’s.
“They sold the Oregon Avenue location and decided it would be easier if each of them had their own stores. But we’re still family. They do their thing and we do ours. Everyone that comes through the door asks, ‘Are you the same DiNic’s?’ And I tell them, yes that’s us,” said DiClaudio, who didn’t diverge one bit from the trusted, painstaking family recipe.
“The main thing that separates us from everybody else is the amount of time we put into it, from the roasting to the cooling down of the meat to the cutting,” he noted, explaining that all the butchering is done on site. “It’s not as easy as throwing it in the oven, pulling it out and you’re done with it. It’s more labor-intensive, and it’s always been done this way to get the product the way we want it.”
There’s no mystique surrounding the method that produces the unmistakable taste of a DiNic’s roasted pork or roasted beef sandwich ($8.20), DiClaudio allowed.
“It’s garlic, oregano, rosemary. It’s not a secret. A lot has to do with how well the butchering is done, besides all the time you put into it. We come from a family of butchers; that’s how we got into it. My father’s a butcher. I have two butchers here.”
Both the pork and beef are properly constructed monster sandwiches by their heritage: thinly shaved mounds on a roll that is irresistibly crispy on the outside, with a soft interior that perfectly soaks up the seasoned gravy created by the slow roasting of the judiciously seasoned meat.
For a small extra charge, sharp provolone and broccoli rabe can transform a plain pork sandwich into DiNic’s most popular menu item.
The rolls are custom-made by Sam’s Italian Market & Bakery in Willow Grove. Although the shop occasionally runs out of them — as on Jan. 14, when DiClaudio posted the bad news to alert customers of a sellout at 6:46 p.m. — the man in charge avoids any thought of substitution.
“The bread is the cornerstone. If you don’t have good bread you don’t have anything. I was lucky to find this bakery that can make the bread to my specs,” said DiClaudio, who can handle all facets of the operation, from butchering to cooking and slicing.