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Nick Maiale Jr., (left) and the hometown love that overpours from his sandwich shop Lil Nick’s Deli is as South Philly as it gets. | Image: Reuben Harley

 

What’s good, Philly weekly readers!

This week, I hit up South Philly institution, Lil Nick’s Deli. It’s a place where the neighborhood definitely shows love, day in and day out.

And I’m about to tell you why.

This little hoagie shop, run by Nick Maiale Jr., operates on the 1300 block of West Moyamensing Ave. Keeping family ties close, Lil Nick’s is directly next door to his pop’s (Big Nick’s) original grocery store where Nick Jr. started his journey. I met Lil Nick in 1999 when he was at his original locale on the 1400 block of Jackson Street, just a stone's throw from his current location that he opened two years prior.

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Reuben Harley | @ChefBigRube

I’ll never forget eating my first South Philly hoagie, and it was from Lil Nick’s establishment, but I’ll get back to my first experience a little later. Nick Jr. opened that first location as a Best of Philly award-winner. The attention to detail that he gives these sandwiches, I’m telling y’all, it’s a true work of art. As the years piled up, so did his experience.

A fire in the shop forced Nick Jr. to vacate his Jackson St. location in 2008, but it didn’t slow down the production or the quality of his sandwiches. Lil Nick’s picked up right where it left off, making chicken cutlets, homemade roast beef and pork sandwiches fresh every day, even while having no freezers for a while. However, that was the allure for scores of customers like me, who traveled far to get one of these sammiches.

The people who know Nick Jr’s story are why this shop has built relationships that’ll last a lifetime. People come in and Nick and his crew already know their order before they open their mouths. You can go in there for anything, whether it’s premium slices of Deitz and Watson or imported Italian specialty meats. Whatever it is, they got you.

OK, so I told you I was going to get back to my first South Philly hoagie. So I walk in with my cousin and I order a turkey and cheese with roast beef on top. Without me even having to ask, Nick knew the perfect bread (a hearty Italian roll from South Philly’s Carangi Bakery) for such a sammich.

Let me tell y’all. This jawn was on point like a sniper.

Let me also tell y’all that after that, I knew that it was all about the bread first. The thinly sliced meats were perfect to get my grub on. I’ve never had a South Philly hoagie from somewhere else ever since. Also, getting back to that personal touch? If I walk in to get a sammich, Nick Jr. always wipes down the slicer because he knows I don’t touch pork.

Nick’s been doing this for 20 plus years now. Seeing him do what he loves to do is a testimonial to having a vision and seeing it through.

Another reason to love this place?

He’ll never complain about parking tickets while making catering tray deliveries to Center City for loyal customers, like your boy.

You just don’t find people like that. If you’ve yet to try Lil Nick’s out, next time you’re in South, hit my boy up and tell him I sent you.

Catch y’all soon, grubbers.

TWITTER: @CHEFBIGRUBE

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