Chef Dennis D’Alesandro of Sandwich Bar in Ocean City and Via Giulia in Haddonfield returns to Camden County with a simple mission: to make standout hoagies.
By Matt Skoufalos
Dennis D’Alesandro isn’t fussy about food.
But that doesn’t mean he compromises on taste.
For the past few years, the Cherry Hill native has been building a reputation for his treatment of that classic Jersey shore staple, the hoagie, at Sandwich Bar in Ocean City. He even drew a nod from food critic Craig LaBan for the “Uncle Charlie,” a hot sandwich stuffed with greens, broccoli rabe, onions, peppers, and sharp provolone.
Business is good, with plans in the works for a second Sandwich Bar on Asbury Avenue to complement the original location at 33rd. But “the seasonal thing at the shore is a sprint,” D’Alesandro said, and he is looking to develop a year-round business.
“It was always the plan to come up this way,” D’Alesandro said. “I grew up in Cherry Hill. I went to Bishop Eustace. I knew this area like the back of my hand.”
Enter longtime supporter Joe Gentile, who put the bug in his ear about a return to the South Jersey downtowns of his youth. The owners of Wiljax Hoagies were looking to withdraw from their Station Avenue storefront; Gentile, whose Local Links eatery anchors a corner of the block, offered to partner with D’Alesandro in the venture. Just like that, Haddon Heights replaced one sandwich shop with another.
D’Alesandro’s business is called Sub Shop, and its concept is as straightforward as its name: make the kind of “really good sandwiches” you would go into South Philadelphia to buy.
“I don’t think, on this side of the bridge, there is a real go-to spot for some of these things,” he said. “Our concept is bring in the really good sandwiches over here.”
The menu will be limited at first, but “completely laser-focused on a few items and doing them perfectly,” D’Alesandro said. “We’re not trying to be everything to everyone.”
Even with purveyors yet to be finalized, Sub Shop promises from-scratch ingredients, like hand-ground burgers, house-made roast beef, and smoked pork belly. Italian hoagies will be made with pressed meats; tuna hoagies will be punched up with sharp provolone and baby greens. Vegetarian and gluten-free options will round out the offerings along with hand-cut fries cooked in peanut oil.
Once more seasonal ingredients open up, visitors can expect them to find their way into salads, special sandwiches, and more. But D’Alesandro promises to keep his offerings uncomplicated, no matter what—and with everything on the menu priced below $10 per item, affordable as well.
“We don’t reinvent the wheel,” he said. “I’m all about taking your time and not cutting any corners.”
Sub Shop opens Wednesday at 503 Station Avenue in Haddon Heights. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Catering and delivery available. 856-546-6800.