The Hoagie Room is basically Philly-style omakase.

By Regan Stephens
August 21, 2019
David Fields

In early 2018, Joe Beddia closed his eponymous, wildly successful Philadelphia pizza shop. After five years of making just forty pies each night with one colleague, John Walker, the chef was burned out, and the city (and pizza lovers around the country, actually) were left bereft. Then in March, Pizzeria Beddia opened its doors again—this time in a partnership with Defined Hospitality restaurant group—in a new space with seating for 90 and (praise be!) online reservations. The pies are the same, lovingly made with fresh and carefully-chosen ingredients, but now eating one doesn’t seem like an impossible dream. If it feels like the newfound accessibility takes away some of the elusive magic of the first Pizzeria Beddia, though, don’t worry. In July, Beddia unveiled the Hoagie Room.

Beddia came up with the Hoagie Room—a tiny den in the back of the restaurant with enough room for six diners and the host, sandwich savant John Walker—in part, while sussing out a way to continue to work with his friend and colleague. The pair met when Beddia was looking for help operating his first place.

David Fields

“Without John, it never would have gelled the way it did,” says Beddia. “The whole business.” That’s saying a lot for a business that started with one man making pizza in a small space and ended with a frenzy of hours-long lines and national recognition. It wasn’t immediately clear how best to incorporate Walker into the new restaurant—he didn’t necessarily want to be a manager or make pizzas—but Beddia persisted.

“I had this idea that he could make hoagies, because that was something we were doing for a while, when we had leftover dough, for friends,” he says. “When my friend Eric [Wareheim] would come in from L.A., we’d make him pizza and hoagies. It was a treat.” This, it seemed, was Walker’s passion. “John is a really smart, analytical guy,” Beddia says. “He can really geek out about the construction of a hoagie.”

Pizzeria Beddia

Now, the rest of the city can also get in on that hoagie action. From Thursday to Sunday, there are two seatings each night. For $450 (which breaks down to $75 per person before drinks and gratuity) you can rent the Hoagie Room, with Walker crafting your sandwiches in real time and Beddia often popping in to fill glasses from a selection of natural wine magnums. (Including Wareheim’s Glou Glou, for which Beddia drew the label art.)

The meal is like a chef’s tasting menu, Philly-style, starting with welcome cocktails and snacks from the menu (including Spanish Cantabrian anchovies, plump judion beans in olive oil, and a genius bibb lettuce salad with apples, almonds, and fish sauce vinaigrette) before kicking off the hoagie parade. First up is roasted vegetables with provolone and basil lemon aioli, then Italian tuna and smoked sardines with a tapenade of kalamata olives, Sicilian anchovies, and whole capers, finished with boursin cheese, shaved red onions, and fresh lemon. The final course in the hoagie trinity is the Italian, with mortadella, capicola ham, and mild provolone.

David Fields

The sandwiches are served alongside long hots, housemade spicy pepper relish, and giardiniera. After the hoagies comes the pizza course. Pick from the menu of classics (one with mozzarella and a farmstead Gouda, a spicy arrabiata) or seasonal hoagies, including one featuring this summer’s New Jersey peaches, roast garlic and thyme cream, and Royer Mountain cheese. Dessert is soft-serve ice cream—either sweet cream or espresso—which can be upgraded with a pour of amaro. By any measure, it’s a feast. But the price of admission comes with access to something more inexplicable. Plus plenty of Instagram content.

David Fields

The intimate, dimly-lit room has a Japanese aesthetic, with dark walls and a warm wood bar. Beddia, who spent time in Japan working at a brewery, was inspired by the Golden Gai area of Shinjuku, Tokyo, where drinkers pack into miniscule drinking dens that line narrow alleyways.

“It’s fifty really tiny bars, [decorated in] whatever the owners' interests are—so it could be a jazz place, or records everywhere, or baseball cards.” Beddia’s interests include art (the restaurant has a cleanly-designed, gallery-esque feel, showcasing works by Alex Da Corte and Friends with You, an L.A.-based art collective,) so the otherwise sparse space brims with personality from an original Warhol screenprint of art collector Kimiko Powers hanging on one wall.

The chef credits his business partners—Greg Root, Nick Kennedy, and Al Lucas—with letting him take the creative reins and transform what was destined to be part of an employee bathroom into a magical private dining room highlighting one of Philly’s favorite foods.

David Fields

Beddia agrees his new restaurant isn’t the same as the last, but it was never supposed to be.

“The first thing was so personal,” he says. “The Hoagie Room is that thing, in a way. With John hosting it, it’s a small, intimate experience. It’s fun. It’s exactly what we wanted.”

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