Editor’s Note: Lavigna & Son’s closed in July 2018. The building and neighboring greenhouse were sold and are being torn down to make room for a new hardware store.
There is no shortage of lunch spots in Berks County. From the city to the smallest towns, you don’t have to look far to find the local sandwich shop.
But there are some places that are a cut above the rest, places that offer the perfect combination of great food, fast service and convenient location like Lavigna & Sons.
Lavigna & Sons is one of two restaurants that were added to the Spayd’s at Green Valley Nursery complex outside Sinking Spring. Along with Crave Cafe, they have helped revitalize the shops by turning them into the go-to lunch spot.
The two restaurants compliment each other well. Crave opens every day for breakfast and has the vibe of a trendy coffee shop. Lavigna & Sons doesn’t open until 10 a.m. and feels like what it is: a South Philly-style hoagie shop.
There are maybe 10 tables in the place, all of them basking in the sunlight from the large picture windows (though none offer much of a view. Most face the parking lot; two overlook Route 422).
Brightening the room isn’t the only benefit of so much sunlight. Pots along the window sills are lined with herbs, including a row of six basil plants.
There are exactly 30 items on the menu at Lavigna & Sons — 24 hoagies, three salads and three hot sandwiches.
When you think of Philadelphia style sandwiches, you probably think of hoagies or Philly cheesesteaks. There are no cheesesteaks on the menu, but there is the other classic Philadelphia sandwich: roast pork.
Very few places in Berks County do a Philly-style roast pork sandwich. The best I have found is at the San Marco Italian Food Festival. At least that was the best until I found Lavigna & Sons.
I ordered a whole hoagie (approximately a foot-long roll) with broccoli rabe, sautéed spinach, Italian long hot peppers and slices of provolone. It was an incredible sandwich.
The pork was chopped so fine it practically looked like crumbs compared to the pile of broccoli rabe that concealed it. The meat was so flavorful and juicy, I would have eaten it on its own. But that slight bitterness of the broccoli rabe and the spicy sweet from the peppers made it perfect.
But those Italian long hots are evil. I thought I could handle spicy. It turns out that I can’t. I had one bite that was just peppers, cheese and bread, and that was enough to have my chugging on my orange cream Kutztown soda.
The roll — a delicious hard roll with sesame seeds (optional) — did nothing to temper the heat. Neither did the bag of Deep River potato chips. Every bite just made it worse until I had to start skimming the pork and rapini off the top (the long hots were lining the bottom of the roll).
Julie had no such problems with her sandwich, the South Philly Italian. Number 1 on the menu, the South Philly Italian featured capacolla, genoa salami and prosciutto with provolone cheese.
All hoagies are served with lettuce, tomato, onions, spices (what spices, I’m not sure) and olive oil. Like mine, the ingredients were falling out of the roll onto the plate with the first bite.
What really made the sandwich was the prosciutto. The flavorful cut made this stand out among other Italian sandwiches.
The great thing about hoagies is that they are quick to make. It only took about five minutes from the time we ordered until they were delivered to our table. The other great thing about them is that they are relatively inexpensive. We paid $20 for our two hoagies (one half, one whole), two Kutztown sodas and a bag of chips.
Lavigna & Sons promises Philadelphia hoagies, and they are delivering on that promise with some of the best sandwiches in the county.
It’s a can’t-miss for your lunch break.