By strict Roadfood standards, which decree a restaurant and its food should reflect their location, Sonny’s Famous Steak Hogies is wrong. But with sandwiches this good, who wants to be strict?
As the name suggests*, the cuisine is Philadelphia more than Florida. Philly is where “Sonny” Sam Nigro came from back in the late 1950s, and the menu is pretty much what you’d find in a Delaware Valley sandwich shop. The “steaks” are thin flaps of ribeye worried on a griddle, served wit’ or witout onions. Cheese and sauce are optional. In addition to steaks, the short-order repertoire includes sandwiches containing meatballs, chicken cutlets, hot ham, and hamburgers as well as cold hoagies, pizza, and a few pasta dishes.
Baked-here loaves sport crisp crust and tender crumb that is sturdy enough to withstand pile-ups of multiple ingredients. Nevertheless, sandwiches are so generously apportioned that picking one up is problematical. That’s why steaks come with a plastic fork.
In addition to its Philadelphia-themed menu, Sonny’s sports the brash ambience of a city sandwich shop. It’s a small place, always crowded and noisy, with customers jockeying for seats and a staff of git-er-done waitresses who are friendly and efficient. It might seem confusing at first, but in fact it runs like a Swiss watch.
* Hogie, not hoagie? Although the latter has become standard, Sonny’s spelling actually reflects historians’ speculation that the term originally referred to multi-meat sandwiches preferred by workers at the old Hog Island Navy Yard.