Hundreds of entries poured in for the first-ever Hoagie Invitational, in which philly.com/Food readers were asked to design the official "With Love" Hoagie, to be served in the 80 or so Primo Hoagies shops for a year.
Contestants had a choice of 60 ingredients.
The field was winnowed down to five entries. And at Liberty Place on Nov. 3, four of the five contestants showed up to tout their sandwiches to judges and a hungry public eager to sample. Primo Hoagies prepared the sandwiches.
Which would it be?
A creation involving Oven-Roasted Turkey, Roasted Prosciutto, Mortadella, Cherry Mozzarella, Provolone, Shredded Parm, Bruschetta, Pesto Sauce, Lettuce, Onion, and Mayo from Michaelangelo Ilagan?
Perhaps the Tuna Italian, Grande Sharp Provolone, Roasted Red Pepper, Broccoli Rabe, Pesto Sauce, and Oil from Perry Golia?
Or the sandwich featuring Chicken Cutlets, Pesto Sauce, Chopped Garlic, Grande Sharp Provolone, Broccoli Rabe, and Roasted Red Pepper from Ruth Beauman, the only female?
There was the one with Hot Ham Capicola, Oven-Roasted Turkey, thinly sliced Pepperoni, Hot Pepper Cheese, Mozzarella, Lettuce, Tomato, light Oil, Salt, Pepper, and Oregano from Michael Minetti.
And one with Sweet Capicola, Tavern Ham, Nellie's Proscuitto, Grand Sharp Provolone, Oven Roasted Turkey, Pickle Chips, and Peppadews from Fred LaCava, who did not appear to defend it.
Three prizes were being offered by Primo Hoagies and sponsor Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation: a judge's choice, a people's choice, and a philly.com/Food readers' choice.
And wouldn't you know it. Minetti won all three.
He walked out with gift packages that include Eagles tickets, Flyers tickets, a two-night Philly Overnight® hotel package with free parking and check-in gift, and "With Love" gift bags.
Minetti, 28, who works at Arcadia University, says he came up with the combination as a college student at Catholic University in Washington, where he frequented a deli that allowed patrons to build their own sandwiches.
Starting Nov. 17, Primo shops will start carrying Minetti's specialty.