John’s Roast Pork wins best cheesesteak and roast pork sandwich

Taste the winning items at tonight’s Best Foods of South Philly event

By Lindsey Nolen

Owner of John’s Roast Pork John Bucci never thought it was possible for a roast pork sandwich to taste better than the one made by his grandfather who opened their family shop in a wooden shack off Snyder Avenue in 1930. However, today, upgrading to what he jokes is a “cinderblock shack,” the taste of the family’s iconic roast pork sandwich has found a way to become even better and has won the most votes for the best roast pork sandwich in South Philly.

“My grandfather came to America from Italy with his roast pork recipe. It’s a hard meat to work with because it’s bland, but my mother always said simplicity is what makes it great,” Bucci said of the business located at 14 Snyder Ave. “We’ve gotten a $8,000 oven that cooks at constant low pressure and that has definitely added to the recipe.”

He added the way his family makes their roast pork involves a 2.5-day process in which they roast the pork, let it sit overnight in the fridge to cool, strain the gravy so the fat comes off, slice the pork through a meat slicer and ultimately marry the meat with the gravy. Although it’s a lot of work, Bucci says this process has helped the sandwich become even juicier.

Taking it personally

Also receiving the most votes for the best cheesesteak in South Philly, Bucci knows exactly what makes his version of the classic sandwich so unique. Having lived above Larry’s Steaks during his days as a St. Joe’s student, he remembers learning a thing or two from helping around the shop, but when his father found out what he was doing in his spare time he said, “We have our own sandwich shop, why don’t you just start helping out here?”

And that’s just what he did. Taking on the family’s cheesesteak as his personal project, Bucci made it his mission to improve his father’s version of the sandwich. In doing that, he started making sure nothing was fried or cooked in advance, and everything is made fresh to order.

“If we don’t have any customers, our grill remains completely clean,” Bucci said. “We’ll put everything on it for you, and we don’t use cheese wiz, it’s fake cheese. Instead we use five to six slices of American, mild provolone or imported sharp provolone.”

While it took a few years for the quality of the shop’s new and improved cheesesteak to catch on, three years ago Bucci had to extend shop hours 7 a.m-3 p.m. to 9 a.m.-7 p.m. to meet the demand. Although it might take a little longer for John’s to make a fresh cheesesteak than places that mass produce them ahead of time, he says to believe him that his sandwich is worth the wait.