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Dec 23, 2008 01:33 PM

Tablehopper just reported Phat Philly (Cheesesteaks, Italian Beef, etc) in the Mission is open

Anyone been yet? I think they just opened this week. The report is that rolls come from Philly, and giadiniera for Italian Beef comes from Chicago. Also, the beef is Niman ranch. So SF!

Phat Philly
3388 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94199

Phat Philly
3388 24th St, San Francisco, CA

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  1. I will have to go because, I don't think anyone will get the Italian Beef because everyone will try cheesesteaks.

    1. A good Italian beef sandwich would be nice. Still it'll be interesting to hear how the NR beef works out. NR meat on tacos often turn out a bit dry and not so flavorful. Thanks for taking the bullet.

      5 Replies
      1. re: ML8000

        That's interesting. Where have you had NM tacos?

        1. re: Civil Bear

          NM? Neiman Marcus or New Mexico
          NR? Niman Ranch or Not Rated/Recommended.
          This post from rworange suggests possibly here.

          1. re: Civil Bear

            La Calaca Loca in Oakland and Tacubaya in Berkeley both use Niman Ranch meat.

            It depends on the meat and cut. I've found NR pork can have less fat content. More notable in al pastor then carnitas. For beef like carne asada, it's less of an issue since anything over medium/med-rare usually gets tough but that's personal preference.

            1788 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

            La Calaca Loca
            5199 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

            1. re: ML8000

              So does Taco Grill:

              3340 E 12th St Ste 11
              Fruitvale Public Market
              (between 33rd Ave & 34th Ave - just across from BART)
              Oakland, CA 94601
              (510) 534-3752

              1. re: ML8000

                Thanks ML. As luck would have it, I was in the area yesterday and had the chance to try the carne asada tacos at Tacubaya. I sat at the counter and watched the young man chop up what looked like a well grilled skirt steak. It was charred so much on the outside, that the end pieces were rather hard and the guy looked like he had a tough time chopping through some of it.

                The meat that ended up in my tacos was perfectly fine though. Cooked medium-well, still moist, and lots of beefy flavor. However the hand-made tortillas were a bit thick for my liking, at least when double-up for tacos.

                The other thing of note was watching the taco maker grill the tortillas with his bare hands...the same ones he used to high-five every young person that walked passed him...

          2. i dropped by today to pick up some sandwiches to go. the place is entirely white and chrome, brightly lit, and clean. i ordered three classic philly cheesesteaks, opting for the cheddar beer sauce. other cheese options were american white, provolone, and cheese whiz. very friendly service. i was offered a soda on the house while waiting for my food. i also got an order of beer battered onion rings.

            i'm not really a cheesesteak guy, but i really enjoyed my sandwich. the beef was flavorful, with nicely caramelized onions. the cheddar beer sauce held the beef and onions together without being excessive. the sandwich wasn't greasy, and didn't drip gloopy cheese all over my fingers. maybe that's NOT a good thing to other people, but i liked its restraint.

            apparently the rolls are sourced out of philly, and i liked their size and heft. onion rings were pretty good, crispy while still hot. there is a pepper bar to customize your cheesesteak, and bottles of cholula, ketchup, yellow mustard, grey poupon, and maybe another condiment on all the tables.

            the menu is pretty extensive. i left my to go menu at the bar i ate at, but there were all sorts of interesting to frightening sounding variations. pizza cheesteak, chili, buffalo, etc. some veggie options, a couple salads, and some other meaty sandwiches. including the chicago style italian beef.

            made for a very satisfying lunch.

            1. I stopped in for luncn last Friday with my BF to try the Italian beef.

              I grew up in Chicago, and that is one thing I truly miss.

              Phat Philly does a pretty good version. They say that they import the prepared beef from Chicago, and also the giardinera (mixed pickled peppers and vegetables) that is used to garnish the sandwich. The beef is nicely flavored and thinly sliced, very tender.

              The manager came over when we were finished eating and asked how we liked the sandwiches. I told him that they were quite good, but as a minor point the Amorsa rolls (from Philadelphia) are too soft to hold up to the Italian beef jus. In Chicago, a harder crusty bread is traditional. He accepted this as constructive criticism and said they might look at other options. The Amorsa rolls do work well with the cheesesteaks (and are traditional), since the cheessteak is grilled and not simmered in the thin gravy like the Italian beef.

              Overall, a nice quick and hearty lunch.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pamf

                I agree that the bread, while authentic, does not serve the practical purpose of supporting the ingredients within it. Friends and I enjoyed sandwiches here, all various forms of the classic. I loved the cheddar ale sauce, but everyone agreed the sandwiches are a bit too restrained. They should be a little bit meatier, saucier. The beef was flavorful, but the meat to bread ratio was off. There was too much soggy bun.

                I must say that the various pickled peppers in the pepper bar were all wonderful! And the service was friendly. We will probably be back if we have a non-burger beef craving, but it wasn't a revelation.

              2. This is as good a thread as any for my Italian Beef from Phat Philly.

                I've discussed Italian Beef and what I like about them in other threads, so I will link them here:


                And I will quote myself below, in case anyone would like to chime in or disagree- there appears to be some difference in the types of rolls people attribute as normal for Italian Beef.

                "Italian Beef sandwiches start out with a cooked through, seasoned roast, seasonings being of the italian variety, the most prominent flavors being oregano and thyme. The meat is usually sliced as thin as possible, which makes the actual tenderness of the meat less of an issue. The meat is served on a spongy/chewy Italian roll that is never crusty (although this sandwich on a crusty French baguette would be awesome, if heterodox). The key to the sandwich, though, is the natural gravy, which is basically the juices and fat from the roast (degreased) and maybe concentrated. This gravy, which is more like an oilier jus, is almost never as salty as a jus for a French Dip, and always has an Italian herb flavor, plus some beefy notes from the roast, but not usually the strong boulliony taste of the French Dip jus. The sliced meat is usually heated up in the gravy and transferred to the sandwich, meaning you have a juicy sandwich that gets harder to eat as the bread basically dissolves. The bread is not usually toasted, so there is no defense from getting soggy, although in this case, soggy is delicious. Many places will dip the entire assembled sandwich in the gravy before serving, but these you have to eat really fast. Finally, the sandwich is topped with either sauteed sweet peppers or "hot peppers", which come in the form of a hot pepper salad known as giardiniera. (MW and friends on giardiniera here Chicago-style giardiniera can have chopped up "sport peppers" (of Chicago hot dog fame), marinated carrot, celery and cauliflower. This mix can be vinegary, salty and spicy (usually all three). Oh, you usually can get mozzarella cheese melted on (I don't like cheese all that much, so none for me)."

                So Phat Philly's version starts with some beef from Chicago. It is sliced quite thin, and when my wife and I went it wasn't super tender, but again, tenderness is less of an issue when the meat is sliced so thin. The rolls are very soft and I actually like them quite a bit. the difference between these rolls (from Philly) and an Italian Beef-Chicago style is not a huge one in terms of taste, but it is a noticeable one. Another poster in this thread says that I-beef rolls are crustier to stand up the the gravy/jus. This is not my experience- however, the rolls are slightly spongier so while they can get soggy, the don't quite dissolve. I would put the Philly rolls as in between. They likely get a little too soggy for some purists, but the softness is a big plus and is close to the right texture.

                As for the seasonings, this is where Phat Philly's Italian Beef is a little closer to a French Dip taste. The gravy isn't oily at all and doesn't taste so much like a natural Italian Beef gravy, where salt is not dominant but a richness and Italian spices are. Phat Philly's tastes like a good au jus base that is beefy, salty and a little bouillon-y. Since I usually order my Italian Beefs with sausage and the sausage adds salt that I like, I am OK with au jus being less oily and more salty.

                Giardineira is listed on the menu as a standard option and the kind they serve is "hot and mild mix" which seems like a standard, authentic Chicago style oil packed mild giardineira and this is the key for me. The thing I miss most about Italian Beef sandwiches is the giardineira and Phat Philly has the right stuff. They don't list sweet peppers as an option on the menu, but because they offer sweet peppers for cheesesteaks, I'm certain you can request this option.

                I also note that they have a free pepper bar if you want to dress your sandwich more. The keys to this bar are that it has giardineira if you want to load up, or try it on your steak, hot cherry peppers- very East Coast, and banana pepper rings. Maybe also jalapenos.

                The manager stopped by to ask us how we liked our sandwiches. We mentioned that we love Italian Beef, and I told him I thought the au jus was too French Dip-py and it needed stronger oregano and thyme taste, but that I was really happy that they would offer the sandwich and that I thought the giardineira was great. He told us how they serve the beef- they heat it quickly on the griddle and then give it a quick drag through the au jus. The bottom fell out of my sandwich from the au jus, but this could also be how the rolls are sliced, their might not be that much of a hinge anyway. I didn't have huge problems with the roll dissolving after that, in fact I was able to mop up the escaped jus with the sandwich.

                For cheese options they have cheese-whiz (for the cheesesteaks of course), a house-made cheddar beer sauce (made with Newcastle the manager told us), provolone and white american.

                The manager (owner?) was really friendly and seemed to be excited to talk to customers and was happy I think to finally be open. He was really nice and gave us a sample of their "steakhouse" chili. I;m not a big chili fan, but we took it home and my wife had it for dinner. It was a well seasoned steak and bean chili- with tender chunks of whole beef, not ground. The chili was topped with a dollop of the cheddar beer sauce, which my wife said was very interesting. The beer taste really came through she said so a little could go a long way, but it sounds like it is a very robust flavored sauce. The manager said they were thinking about offering containers of the sauce to go, for dipping and topping etc.

                They offer their fries topped with chili and cheese as well, for those that like to go all out.

                For cheesesteak options, they have all the standards I believe- onions, mushrooms, peppers, combo. They also do a pizza steak with cheese and house-made marinara. I mentioned to the manager that they could easily offer sausage versions of all their sandwiches (sausage instead of steak for the Philly-style stuff and in addition to the Italian beef). This is kind of a standard at some East Coast sub places. You can get sausage sub with a pile of sliced italian sausage served with onions or peppers or both plus/minus cheese or even marinara. Of course I was angling for my Italian Beef and sausage combo.

                They didn't have their credit card machine working yet when we were there (the 28th) but the cashier said probably within a week it would be ready.

                I'd go back if a had a hankering, because to me the roll is close enough, and the giardineira is just right. I would appreciate it even more if the jus/gravy were spot on, but that has never been my focus with Italian Beefs, so your mileage may vary, and the service was good and friendly.

                7 Replies
                1. re: P. Punko

                  Another Chicago native chiming in, I actually think the Chicago beef rolls are crustier than the Amoroso rolls at Phat Philly uses, but not hard like the French baguette you mentioned. I agree it's nice just to see Chi-town beefs showing up out here. Now if we can just import some Chicago sausages we'd be in biz !!

                  1. re: P. Punko

                    Finally tried the Chicago beef sandwich and it was good. Too bad about the bread falling apart from the juiciness, but just to have the beef flavor was fantastic. I asked for the roasted peppers rather than the Giardineira to have the classic Chicago experience. I pointed out to the owner that in Chicago green bell peppers are the sole standard topping and that Giardineira is only optional. He mentioned that one of his friends is Italian from Chicago and turned him on to beef sandwiches at his house and they always had Giardineira and he loves the stuff, so he figured that was the standard way. In any event, I was able to get a classic one with roasted bell peppers (just for the record, it is a combo of red and green peppers and they are chopped into small pieces rather than the 1 or 2 inch wide long strips of Chicago fame).

                    I love the Giardineira he has here, but I never put it on beef sandwiches, I just eat it on the side on it's own. It is hot and tangy and the real Chicago deal !

                    1. re: NoeMan

                      I grew up in Chicago and I don't remember the giardinera on beef sandwiches. It was always the green bell peppers, which I don't think were roasted, they were just left to stew in the beef jus.

                      I have had giardinera on the sandwiches in Chicago but I think that's only become popular in the last 10 years or so.

                      As to the bread, the Italian bread they use in Chicago is more crisp and the Philly Amorosa rolls but no where near and crusty and chewy as our sourdough baguettes. It will also get soggy if there is a lot of jus.
                      That's actually my favorite part, I think P. Punko mentioned somewhere upthread that some people request that the entire sandwich be dipped in the jus. That's what I do.

                      Now they need to add another Chicago sandwich to their menu. The Pepper and Egg. Back in the day when many people observed the catholic "no meat on Friday" rule the beef stands would make Pepper & Egg. They would scramble up some eggs mixed with sliced bell pepper right on the flat top grill and then serve that sandwich on the Italian bread.

                      1. re: pamf

                        My mother in law used to work in a Beef place a long time ago- she said they always had giardineira, but it was an add on. I know lots of people that just get the regular "sweet" peppers, which are exactly what you mention. Hot and sweet mix at Phat Philly is just mild giardineira, whereas in Chicago you'd get giardineira and the sweet bell peppers that had been in the gravy/jus.

                        And now I'm hungry.

                        1. re: pamf

                          I've made my wife a fan of pepper and egg, on a piece of Acme sourdough.

                          1. re: Scrapironchef

                            Excellent work there, scrapironchef.

                            A few years ago when visiting in Chicago, and friend and I were out for brunch at a slightly upscale place in the outer burbs and they had a pepper and egg sandwich on the menu.

                            I ordered it and the waiter very solemnly warned me that it was made with peppers "the vegetable" and not with black pepper.

                            I said yes, that is what I expected.

                            But I didn't expect that they would serve it on a (very soggy) croissant. Not a successful version.

                            I am sure your Acme version was MUCH better. :)

                            1. re: pamf

                              Add giardiniere and it really sings....

                              A croissant? really? ewwwww,,,,,,