When I first came upon Old Towne & Sanna's, a half pizza-sub shop / half Middle Eastern food delivery/takeout place, a store in Massachusetts, called Dave's Soda & Pet Food City, came to mind, which somewhat bemusedly sold both soda (as in Coke & Pepsi) and pet food. (This is explained on their about us section.)
Similarly, the serving of all-American fast-food, such as pizza, wings and subs alongside Middle Eastern food was and still is surprising to me.
And no, I'm not going to make a Jerry Seinfeld Black & White cookie-esque joke about how the Middle East and American people could learn about political harmony from this place. Sheesh, I'm beyond that. Plus, this is Philly, buddy. Obviously, we know that the best way to solve political conflict is through boxing matches and inspirational speeches.
I've tried this place twice now. Once for their Middle Eastern food and once for their sub and this isn't a destination place by any means. But I must say that their Middle Eastern food was eye-opening for me. Yes, I recently ate at Zahav, which was great on the high-end level of restaurants. However, this was the first time, I really *got* Middle Eastern food on the lower end of the range.
Lamb Shawarma Platter - Yes, the wheat pita was dry, which I normally would protest, but here its dryness almost seemed necessary to complement the decent hummus. They provided a small container of garlic sauce, which I loved, because it was essentially lightly flavored, mashed raw garlic with all of its intense, natural spiciness. The tabouli salad was juicy and didn't overdo the olive oil or spices, which can sometimes make this inaccessible for the untrained palate. The lamb wasn't outstanding - it actually reminded me of Americanized Chinese places with their meat. And similarly, the rice reminded me of Uncle Ben's. Nonetheless, the combination of flavors, textures and ingredients just kind of finally clicked, which has not happened for me at Kamal's in RTM or any Middle Eastern food trucks so far.
Grilled Chicken Hoagie w/ Spinach - Not bad. As evident in the photo, a touch on the greasy side, but the chicken tastes like dark chicken meat that someone cooked at home, unlike mystery meat (and mystery grade) chicken that can sometimes be passed off at sub shops. Same goes for tomatoes and spinach, which tasted relatively fresh. The ranch dressing that I asked for on the side almost tasted home-made and was noticeably less heavy and flavored than the normal stuff.
At the end of the day, this is a take-out/delivery shop. I'm certain there are far better pizza/sub shops in the city and I'm hoping (but have yet to be aware of) better cheap Middle Eastern places as well. But having experienced this and Zahav, I feel slightly better prepared to try out some other Middle Eastern restaurants in the city now.
PS. One last thing. Both times, getting my food has been incredibly slow. I'd recommend calling first for take-out.
Old Towne Wings & Sanna's Middle Eastern
2301 Grays Ferry Ave Philadelphia, PA 19146 (Map)