Sandwich Pride Of Norristown: The Zep

By: Ben Kessler, posted Dec 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm

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Norristown Zep

What is a zep? The sandwich has been a regional favorite since the 1940′s, but a large amount of Philadelphia-area residents surprisingly have never heard of it before. Though the sandwiches true origins are up to speculation, all signs point to the name coming directly from the Hindenburg zeppelin. Made with only one meat, provolone cheese, tomatoes, and raw onion, on crusty Italian bread, the zep has stayed tried and true through all these years.

Local hero: Norristown’s zep sandwich [Philadelphia Inquirer]

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  • bradkarr

    I'm disappointed. I grew up in Conshoocken and we ate tlhe best Zep's at Linfante's Restaurant on East Main St. in Norristown. That was in the 50's. We had Zep's at other restaurants, especially in Conshy since we lived there. The best Zep's were always at Linfante's though. The Philly steaks were pretty good most places. I have lived in California since 1960 and would only enjoy Zep's or Philly Steaks when I visited, which wasn't often.

    No one out here has captured the true essence of either one of these sandwiches. When on occasion I make my own I get pretty close. Even the so called “original” recipes don't do Linfante's justice. Sure would like to get some authentic Italian bread to make my own more often.

    Bill Carpenter Sr.

    Auburn, CA

  • Chach

    I was born in Norristown and my husband went to Norristown High, we moved to Fla. in 79 and in 1995 we opened a Small deli in Spring Hill, Fla. called, Chach's Lunch Box Deli and we sold the business in 2007.
    We featured the ZEP as well as Philly Steaks and subs. The ZEP was a real hit with new comer's and some that knew what it was. There are a few secrets in making the ZEP as Linfante's did, one main thing is to have the right bread, the crusty italian bread is a must, another secret is that you have to slice the onion fresh as your making the sandwich, also putting oil on both sides of the bread, oregano is must. I wish I had the recipe for the itialian bread. One secret there is to keep the bread in a paper bag until it cool, this is what makes it crusty, than put it in plastic bags to keep it fresh.
    Chach Ziegler
    Crystal River, Fl.

  • Ryans5514

    swell up

  • Ryans5514


  • Deshondemccray

    take a swell a dell and and katch up syrup

  • Eric1152

    Yes you have to have that good bread from the Chonsy bakery to make this sandwich. No other bread compares! I have had my zeps on a nice kaiser roll, very good this way too!
    Eric Kissinger
    Pottstown, PA

  • PhoenixvilleZeps

    My mom makes good zeps

  • PhoenixvilleZeps


  • Lkantner

    For those of you who are searching for a “ZEP” sandwich, it’s true, it was developed in the Norristown, Pa.u00a0area. Back in the 50″s, you could get the best tasting zep at Linfante’s restaurant, East Main Street Norristown. People came from ar far as 18 miles away for a Linfante’s Zep. The best Italian Bread was from Morabito’s Bakery at 757 Kohn Street, who by the way had people from other states, break and enter, to get the secret recipes. There’s lots of good bakers and bread, but Morabito’s Italianu00a0Bread is one of the best.u00a0nThe zep is easy: slice open a big Italianu00a0loaf of Morabito’s bread. Start with a layer of good Salami, than a layer of Provolone cheese, than another layer of Salami and Provolone.nNow a layer of sliced sweet onion, followed by a layer of fresh sliced garden ripe tomato.u00a0nShake on some Oregano, sprinkle on some Olive Oil, Top with some crushed Cherry Peppers and enjoy! There is no Mayo on a zep. No letture or other fillers on a zep.

  • Michie

    Used to get Zeps in Conshy, back in the 60s-70s. Yummy. There was a tiny Greek owned sanwich shop- can’t remember the name, butu00a0there was anu00a0old lady named Sofia behind the counter. Best sandwich ever. Every hoagie I’ve eaten since then pales in comparision. Wish I had one right now.

  • Michie

    And thanks for the good description, Lkantner. Not the same as a hoagie as there is NO lettuce and NO mayo! I fogot about the cherry peppers, I was little, I didn’t eat em but my big bro did. I was suitably impressed.

  • Remo

    what planet are you from?

  • Remo

    niceu00a0 but not a true ZEP

  • Remo

    The ZEP was truly a classic in Norristown and has appeal everywhere , just needs exposure and will be getting it SOON!!!

  • Rob

    Hey Chach, my pop grew up in and went to Norristown High. and talks about the Zep, his favorite sandwich.u00a0 Can you please tell me how to make a Zep?u00a0

  • JBum

    My family grew up in Norristown and I was born there. I moved back for about 5 years and my brother-in-law used to take me to Eve’s. Not sure where it was, but OMG soooo frickin’ good. I am trying to make them for my family for dinner. We just saw Adam Richmond on Man vs. Food eating in South Philly and I decided it was Zeps for dinner. YUM!!!

  • LarryK

    Interesting comments. Everyone has their own take on things and I’m sure there are other bakerys that are favorites.I’ve read the comments about Eve’s of Norristown. Sounds like a good place. However, back in the good old days, people would come from as far as Philadelphia to Linfante’s in Norristown to get a “ZEP”. The best bakery in the area was Morabito’s Bakery on Kohn Street in Norristown. Their special half block long brick oven enabled them to make their famous Italian bread, light textured inside with the perfect crisp hard butter crust on the outside, that made the perfect zep. The original zep, wasn’t complicated, didn’t have a bunch of fillers, lettuce, mayo, olives, pickle, what ever. It was simply a great tasting sandwich of salami, provolone cheese, sliced sweet onion and sliced garden ripe tomato, vinegar oil dressing on both halves of the Italian bread and a dash of oregano. For a little zip on the ZEP, most people would have some crushed mild cherry peppers, sprinkled on top.That folks is your Norristown “ZEP”
    If you want to use Tuna, Chicken, TurkeyBeef,what ever, you may have a grinder, hogie, sub or something else, but it’s not a Norristown “ZEP” So have an orginal made Zep and enjoy the experience.. I understand there are some major supermarekets that are working with Morabito’s Bakery and keep your fingers crossed. The Norristown “ZEP” maybe coming to your town, everywhere in the USA.. Hey! The Philadelphia Cheese Steak sandwich, which used Cheese Wiz, on the orginal, is know all over the United States. Now it’s time for the Norristown “ZEP” to step up to the plate.

  • lous/eves

    Lous & Eves best zeps around

  • LWM

    I grew up when you did. We used to get a big old bag of Zeps at Linfantes and take them home and watch the Eagles get beat. I have always thought they got their bread from Borzillo’s Bakery across the street and down a few blocks.
    We got our Cheese steaks at D’elasandros’ in Roxborough.

  • Sharon

    Cooked Salami, Provolone Cheese, thick tomato & onion slices, oil & oregano on the bread …. the right kind of Italian roll

  • best zep

    Linfantes luncheonette on second st in Bridgeport made the best zep around. The little shop was called oggies by the locals because it was owned by and run by Oggie, Raymond, and Olga Linfante. Take a crusty Italian roll, which you can only find in the Philly area for some reason, coat both insides with oil and a little vinegar, start with sliced provolone cheese, cooked salami, another layer of same cheese, another layer of same salami, sliced tomatoes, then sliced onions, sprinkle with oregano, then sprinkle with a little more oil, add crushed peppers if you want a spicy and tangy taste.

  • James Minnich

    And don’t forget the hot peppers – crushed or sliced cherry peppers

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