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New late night eats in Red Bank!

Last week I stumbled (quite literally) into a new Cheesesteak shop that opened up in Red Bank, across the streetish from the Dublin house. The place is called Willy's steaks...and let me tell you, it may be the best cheese steak I've ever had.

They have their own "whiz" like cheese that beats anything I've had in philly, the meat is fatty, juicy ribeye, and they use real bread. Best of all they're open til 3am!

I enjoyed it so much I went back for lunch the next day with my friend, who agreed that it might be the best cheese steak she's ever had.

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  1. Better than Pat's or Jim's? If true, I am running there NOW.......

    1 Reply
    1. re: bgut1

      I haven't been to Jim's in a couple years, but I don't remember being as happy with their steaks. Let us know what you think!

    2. Thanks for that report, joonjoon. Sounds like a spot to put on my "go to" list. Not being familiar with the Dublin House and wanting to know the exact location, I Googled. Lo, and behold! Willy's has a website:

      http://www.willyssteaks.com/

      Btw, they're open until 3 a.m. Thurs.-Sat., 11 p.m., Sun.-Wed. Nice that they're open on Mondays. :-)

      1. Just back from lunch at Willy's. Had a nice lunch and an enjoyable chat with the owners. Here's my take:

        Pros:
        Fresh real italian sub rolls brought in from Philly
        Fresh cut ribeye meat
        Lots of good, high quality topping choices
        Caring, family-owned and run place

        Cons:
        Frozen fries and wings
        Expensive, small bottled drinks only
        Very limited seating

        To start with, this is an authentic "philly" cheesesteak place and there is no local competition at all. I'm sure I will be putting on a few more pounds thanks to Willy's.

        The owner is eager to start using fresh fries and wings, but to do so profitably he needs a decent turnover. I really hope they get it as this is something we have needed in Red Bank for a long time.

        Bottom line - The real deal and well worth a visit, but you may want to take out.

        6 Replies
        1. re: seal

          Thanks seal. Will definitely give it a shot.

            1. re: FoodDude2

              Regular - 5 inch = 3.79
              Large - 10 inch = 6.89
              Giant - 20 inch = 12.99

              I took a take out menu with me ;o)

          1. re: seal

            Thanks for the report. I had dinner in Red Bank tonight and tried to talk my wife into cheesesteaks (but she had her heart set on pizza from Front St. Trattoria). Next time.

            1. re: seal

              Wow! That's a pretty comprehensive report! I haven't bothered trying anything other than their steaks..My only complaint is that their regular is a little bit on the small side - they need an inbetween size :D

              1. re: joonjoon

                joon - just buy the large and save the rest for later. :)

            2. Well I tried Willy's on Friday, and all I can say is OH YEAH!!!!! I loved it. The fries were in fact frozen, but you know what I loved them as well. Nice clean oil, the guy behind the counter (I assume an owner) told me that one fryer is for fries only. I wil definately go back, hopefully this week. I've eaten out quite a bit over the last 2 weeks, I'll post about some of the things on other topics, no real suprises though....

              1. For killer late-night eats go to the Chat & Nibble in Asbury Park. It got a very good review in the Press yesterday.

                1. Great post! My husband now ranks cheesesteaks he's tried (and they fear him) as follows: Market Basket (Franklin Lakes, NJ); Real Philly; Willy's and Pat's.

                  1. nice! do they have chicken? just kidding!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: aacharya

                      Actually Willy's does have a chicken 'cheesesteak'!

                      1. re: Herm

                        Went there on thursday night, it wasn't too late, around 7pm. Great steaks. I had mine with Willy's cheese sauce, mushrooms and hot peppers. The hot peppers confused the heck out of them though. The lady who took my order asked me about 4 times to clarify that yes, I wanted the HOT and spicy peppers and not the regular green peppers. Apparently I must be the first person to order it there. O well. The hot peppers seemed more like a hot pepper spread than "cherry peppers" but it was still good. My only real complaint was that it took FOREVER for our food. I'm talking a good 20-30 mins of sitting and waiting. It wasn't busy either, only 2 people who had already ordered and were sitting down waiting were ahead of us. I have no idea how they can handle a late night bar crowd on the weekends unless there is more than 1 chef normally or the regular grill man wasn't there and what looked like the owner's son was filling in. Either way the steaks were real good and filling.

                        On a side note, I did see a printout of the first post on this thread framed and hung up on the wall.

                        1. re: FoodDude2

                          They do offer 2 types of hot peppers, one called just that 'hot peppers' and the other is jalapenos. Maybe that was the confusion?

                          1. re: Herm

                            Perhaps but she didn't ask me if I wanted jalopenos, She just kept asking me if I wanted the hot peppers or the regular peppers. I didn't even see jalopenos on the list of choices otherwise I would have just said those. Its was more humorous than anything else as I felt like the first person to order hot peppers on my sanmich.

                      2. re: aacharya

                        Acharya: Haha! Dude you crack me up.

                      3. Went to Willy's for lunch. 1pm on a Friday. There was a long line. We waited about 10 minutes to order. The counter-girl told us, correctly, that our sandwiches would take about 20 minutes. We passed the time pleasantly -- looking at art galleries. When our order was ready, we lucked out and snagged the last empty table.

                        We got one large (10") steak sandwich with "Willy's cheese blend", onions, and peppers; 6 buffalo chicken wings, 2 bottled sodas. (Coke, Boylan, and Jones bottles are all the same price.) Total cost about $17.50.

                        First of all... the sandwich is quite tasty. I love the bread. All the ingredients were fresh and high quality. The guy at the slicer shaves the meat super-thin before it's grilled. The slicer works constantly trying to keep up with sandwich orders.

                        Now I'm going to make some picky remarks about the food:

                        We shared the 10" steak sandwich. It was certainly enough food for 2 adults who should be watching their weight -- but you'll need more if you're really hungry.

                        Mr C and I are biased about what a cheese-steak should be. We both felt a bit underwhelmed with the Willy's steak w/cheese sandwich -- it seemed to be less than the sum of its high-quality parts. I think it was how it was assembled. I was unable to taste Willy's cheese blend. They spread the cheese on the bread and then add the meat and other toppings. The cheese blend soaked into the bread. I could see a rim of orange color on the bread. The tasty meat and tasty, nicely-textured bread eclipsed the cheese taste. Mr C wished for Willy's tasty shaved steak on a bland cottony roll with cheese goop dumped ON TOP, so that the cheese could ooze down into the meat. I, on the other hand, am thrilled with Willy's bread. But I want to taste the cheese.

                        The buffalo wings were just fine -- nothing special. We didn't get fries, but I thought the cheese fries looked good. (Fries are from frozen.)

                        Despite my picky comments, I think Willy's is a great addition to Monmouth St. The spare black decor is nice. It's a fun, friendly place. I'd be happy to go to Willy's anytime when it's less crowded. I want to try the hamburger. I saw them making one and it looked good. I'll bet they use a good hamburger bun. The chicken sandwich looks good.

                        http://www.willyssteaks.com/

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: val ann c

                          Thanks for the report, val.

                          When it comes to cheesesteaks, I'm as far from an expert as you can possibly get, having had my first -- and only -- cheesesteak a couple of years ago when Carl's opened on 3rd Av. & 34th St., in Manhattan. He spent years checking out the Philly outlets, then developing his cheesesteak in his own kitchen before opening his shop. I have no clue how close his version is to those in Philly, but it was delicious and had the cheese on top.

                          When we go to Willy's, it will probably be a late lunch mid-week, around 3-3:30 p.m. I'm guessing (hoping) things will be slower then.

                          1. re: RGR

                            RGR, I'm no expert on cheese-steaks either. But I've eaten far more of them than I'd like to admit. To be fair, Willy's menu doesn't offer an actual "cheese-steak sandwich". They call it a "Willy's Original Steak" and offer a long list of toppings to choose from.

                            I think Willy's will do well. I'm looking forward to trying their burger and chicken sandwich. The prices are high, but not out of line considering the high rent location.

                            1. re: val ann c

                              willys is horrible. the rolls they use are rubbery. they over cook the steak and the cheese blend is bland. you can get a better cheesteak at the mall. for anyone to compare willys to pat's or geno's in philly is crazy. they have no idea what they are doing. they even made up a fake history to feed to customers about coming from a small town in pa. what a joke.

                              1. re: cmullin1977

                                Hey, cmullin1977,

                                While I have no problem with you voicing your opinion about the quality of the cheesesteaks, what I do question is your statement about the fake history. What's the source of that accusation?

                                1. re: RGR

                                  lol - beat me to it RGR.

                                  In speaking with the owner I found out that their family has a long history of making cheesesteaks. They may not have been in Red Bank for years and years, but it seems they have been in the business for a long time.

                                  Also, if anything, I am too picky for my own good, food-wise. While theirs was not the "best cheesesteak I have ever eaten", it certainly ranks up there. Besides, where is our local competition?

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    If willy's has a family history of making cheesesteaks then my review is even worse. i wish i could say it was a good steak. the place is terrible from the bland tasteless cheese sauce to the overcooked steak. the roll was old and rubbery. i am giving an honest opinion. i have eaten at geno's, pats, chicks, tony lukes and delasandros. willys is terrible

                                    1. re: cmullin1977

                                      Not having gone to Willy's yet I can't comment on the food. But looking at the website, I better understand the comments by cmullin1977.

                                      According to the website, the Red Bank location is the "newest location". But there is no mention of any other locations and a quick google search reveals no others. And the slogan "so good since 1957" implies that the restaurant has been in business since 1957, which it seems that it has not.

                                      All this seems like good marketing especially in a competitive place like Red Bank. But I understand the anger that a hound may have towards this. It may seem like trickery instead of letting the food stand on its own merits.

                          2. re: val ann c

                            Val,

                            I had the same experience as you the last time I had their steak - it was like - where's the cheese? And how come I'm still hungry after eating a "regular" steak?

                            The 10" is a little big for one person and the regular is too small. And I also love their bread. :D

                            I think next time I'm there I'm going to ask for "a little extra cheese" and see if that takes care of the problem.

                          3. Hi Folks-

                            We have removed some of the discussion that was out of scope, please keep it on the food.

                            Thanks.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                              are we only allowed to talk about the food or about the dining experience as a whole- which would inlcude- food, service, decor....?

                              1. re: cmullin1977

                                Please head to the Site Talk board http://www.chowhound.com/boards/30 to discss the Chowhound site and what kinds of posts are appropriate here. This helps us keep this board focused squarely on the mission of sharing tips on where to find great chow. Thanks!

                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                  ok- i get the idea. well the food is just not very good.

                                  1. re: cmullin1977

                                    Hey, cmullin1977,

                                    If you do a little reading around this and other boards, you'll see that while cuisine is paramount, discussions can -- and do -- include topics such as wine lists, service, and ambiance, which are all part of the total dining experience.

                                    1. re: RGR

                                      i did read some other postings and I thought that it was ok to discuss other aspects of the dining experience but some of my posts were deleted. i can expand on my dining experience at willy's though. the decor is non-existant. they have none. the service was average- i guess if i opened up a new restaurant i would engage my new customers. I would try and build a relationship with them. Most importantly i would get there order correct. i have rambled enough-

                            2. I'm a Philly girl transplanted in Red Bank. I'd LOVE to sample one of these, but unfortunately I cannot have the cheese. Which kind of takes the point out of having a cheesesteak. So I won't be able to give my opinion, but it's cool to hear Willy's is open and a little part of Philly (even if only represented through food) is here in Red Bank.

                              1. Oh and Jim's or Tony Luke's FTW!!!

                                1. Met a friend for lunch today at Willy's. Was a bit surprised to see a big "CLOSED" sign on the window at 11:20 or so when I got there early- ran over to look inside and see that a new handwritten sign says they now open at 12pm (so don't trust the website's hours).

                                  Had a Guinness at the Dublin House while I waited for my friend and we were the first customers through the door and it didn't get too crowded for the 45 minutes or so we were there. I agree with most of the others comments about the cheesesteak - good, but the sandwiches were a weird size- maybe they should call them "Too much" and "Not Enough", instead of "large" and "regular".

                                  Fries were tasty, fully cooked and one order easily satisfied two diners.

                                  I was surprised at the minimalist, upscale look of the place (tho' it's very typically "Red Bank"- I guess I expect retro-diner and/or Philly memorabilia) and that the food was served in aluminum foil- not even paper plates or plastic forks (which would have been helpful to eat the sandwich filling that fell out), no napkins, salt and pepper or catsup on the table or served with the tray of food. (And, when we got them from the counter it was packets of catsup, ala McDonalds).

                                  And if you get lucky and get a table, watch those two by the window. The floor was patched and it's very uneven, so hold onto your soda or it'll slide right off the slanted table.

                                  Extra incentive to not spill the soda- a pretty full line of Boylan's (with cane sugar) flavors in the cooler...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JessKidden

                                    Strolling through Red Bank the other day with my gal and decided to try Willy's steaks. Small steak with cheese and onions, 2 sodas. Over 10 bucks. I can forgive an expensive, bland samgweech, but I cannot forgive poor customer service. Upon asking the fella to whack the sangweech in half, he responded "no, I don't have a knife". When I pointed out that the was a knife in plain sight he responded, "sorry, that one's only for bread". Boooooooooooooooooooooo. Sorry Willy, ya lost me at "no".