The Food Chain

Villa di Roma’s Frank DeLuca Will Die for an O Sandwiches Banh Mi or Two

Photo: Kirsten Henri

Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week Mark Onorato, owner of George’s Sandwich Shop in the Italian Market felt the love for the Sauteed Spinach at Villa di Roma, also in the Italian Market. This week Villa di Roma co-owner-chef Frank DeLuca inches the Food Chain out of the Market, but still keeps it on 9th Street.

Who: Frank DeLuca, chef-owner, occasional bartender Villa di Roma, Philadelphia
What: Shredded Chicken Banh Mi
Where: O Sandwiches, Philadelphia
When: Frequently

“The shredded chicken Vietnamese hoagie with extra hot sauce is to die for! The rolls are baked in-house, they have shaved carrots, hearts of palm, spicy sauce, jalapeno, cucumber. It’s delicious! I was eating one a week for a while. My cousin and I would go - we’d get one for me and one for her. I had to stop, though, because I went up to two a week and I was gaining weight! After eating them you don’t feel full though because it’s so fresh and delicious, but before you know if you’ve eaten a loaf of bread.”

Kevin Truong, owner of O Sandwiches, reveals his killer sandwich secret:

“The way we make our bread is different, we specialize in the French baguette. We make it in our shop every day, fresh. For us, the bread is the secret to the sandwich; it’s a little bit crunchy on the outside and light on the inside. As for the chicken, we use the breast only and saute it for 45 minutes with coconut soda. It makes it a little sweet, we add other spices to to balance it out. We cook it down until almost all the juice dries out - the breast shreds itself. We add a little homemade Vietnamese butter - it’s made from eggs and oil - it’s kind of somewhere in the middle between mayonnaise and butter. Banh mi has lots of fresh herbs: jalapeno, cilantro - it brings out a lot of flavor - there’s spiciness, the crispness of the cucumber. It’s an interesting taste if you’ve never had it before. But our bread is the main secret I’d say.”

Check back next week to see which dish is at the top of Kevin Truong’s list.

Villa di Roma’s Frank DeLuca Will Die for an O Sandwiches Banh Mi or Two