Fairless Hills’ Johnny Longhots Serves Up Spice With Philadelphia Flair
Finally, we have a place to eat spicy sandwiches, view pictures of St. Katherine Drexel and Frank Rizzo, or watch one of six “Rocky” movies on a big screen TV.
Stumble upon Johnny Longhots Steaks on Levittown Parkway in Fairless Hills, and one of the workers will likely offer you a free “shot” of Fireball, Jack Daniels, Johnnie Walker, or DeWar’s White Label Blended Scotch Whisky.
This selection of free liquor labeled “Johnny’s Stash” sits under several crucifixes, a statue of Mary, and a large poster of the Lord’s Prayer.
In the kitchen, Salvatore LoDuca, a first-generation Sicilian American, whips up what he calls the “Italian hot dog.” It’s three all-beef hot dogs topped with sliced potatoes, peppers, onions, ketchup and spicy mustard on a roll.
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Johnny Longhot’s dining room features a large mural depicting Gritty, Franklin, the Phillie Phanatic, Swoop, Will Smith and a young Sylvester Stallone wearing boxing gloves holding a meatball sandwich.
The menu is even more colorful, with huge sandwiches, most of which are named after Philadelphia icons or characters from the beloved “Rocky” movie collection.
Fried eggplant, chicken or veal cutlets are called “The Rocky”, “The Mickey”, “The Paulie” or “The Frank Rizzo”.
The “Balboa” is pepperoni, roasted peppers, provolone and marinara. The “Fishtown” is peppered ham, prosciutto, salami, roasted peppers and strong provolone.
The “Broad Street Burger” is topped with bacon, barbecue sauce, pepper jack cheese and fried onion rings. The “Gritty Special” is a cheesesteak topped with white cheddar cheese and seasoned Old Bay fries.
The “Dat Pickle-back Jawn” is a cheesesteak with cooper sharp cheddar, fried pickles and Texas pedal sauce.
Order the “Franklin” and you’ll get a cheesesteak topped with bacon, onion rings, barbecue sauce, cheese, and long hot peppers.
What’s the healthiest thing on the menu?
Owner Joseph LoDuca said customers could order “a cup of water.”
Johnny Longhots Steaks opened on Black Friday 2019. Among the 15 employees are Joseph LoDuca, his wife Laura, his brother Fabio, his daughter Katelyn and his sons Giuseppe, Lorenzo and Salvatore Jr.
Grandfather Salvatore LoDuca, 78, is technically not an employee but still comes into the kitchen most afternoons, he said. “I do it because I like it.”
The LoDuca family previously ran a chain of Lavita pizzerias in Mount Holly and Willingboro, New Jersey, before deciding to change course with a new brand and hopefully more future locations to open soon.
The love of long peppers dates back to the childhood of Joseph LoDuca in Brooklyn and an uncle with a passion for peppers and whiskey.
“Johnny always had a crush on the table,” he said. “He had chosen the long hots with bread and he would sit there and sip Johnny Walker. It’s a slow heat. It’s not like a jalapeño. It’s a nice heat that sticks to your skin. .”
Joseph LoDuca also said “there’s no better way to celebrate Philly” than by constantly streaming footage of “Rocky” (1976), “Rocky II” (1979), “Rocky III” (1982 ), “Rocky IV” (1985), “Rocky V” (1990) and “Rocky Balboa” (2006).
The family favorite is “Rocky III,” in which Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky loses a title fight with Mr. T, suffers the death of his beloved trainer Mickey, and later returns to boxing with the help of former rival Apollo Creed.
Creed, played by Carl Weathers, tells Rocky he needs to find “the eye of the tiger”. Created for the film, the hit song “Eye of the Tiger” was released by American rock band Survivor a day before the release of “Rocky III” and topped the Billboard charts for six weeks.
“I hope one day Sylvester Stallone will find me here at the restaurant,” said Joseph LoDuca. “If he comes, he can have any type of sandwich.”