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Is the Philly Cheesteak Doomed?

Apparently a double whammy of fast food and vegans are jeopardizing the future of the Cheesesteak.


I think it's alarmist hogwash - The Cheesesteak is certainly alive an well out here in Kensington anyway.

Warning: Photos are not for the faint of heart - there are some real atrocities pictured.

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  1. Did Pizza Hut and Domino's kill pizza?

      1. I was schooled in Philly, so I know where the cheesesteak bar is set. This is a plug for Chumlee's in Ellenton FL, that does a darn good one. Cheesesteak popularity is expanding.

        13 Replies
          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            Leaving aside the issue of whether is such a thing as a good cheesesteak, the part of the cheesesteak that always seems to suffer outside of the greater philadelphia area is the bread. I would be interested in knowing whether the bread is as good down there, or what compromise they had to make.

            1. re: cwdonald

              It's gotta be Amoroso's or its not a "steak"

              incidentally the worst Steak I have ever had was served on a plane flying into Philly. Why would you do such a thing?

              1. re: JTPhilly

                There was a cheesesteak place I've been to in Fernandina, Florida that was run by expat Philly guys. They had amoroso rolls flown in...and they weren't quite right. Too soft. I think that they were grocery store models baked for shelf-life more than anything else.

                Anyway this place did great until they expanded and increased their overhead. Gone.

                1. re: sal_acid

                  Amoroso's that sit in the plastic bags with no air circulation loose the crisp outer layer
                  the ones in the bins, or the ones that get delivered to restaurants/deli's/sandwich shops in the cardboard flats don't have that problem, so they retain that nice crisp outer layer
                  (for commercially produced rolls, I actually like that baker from NJ that took over at Acme when Amoroso's drivers wen on strike... my brain is not working today)

                  1. re: sal_acid

                    They might have kept the rolls in the freezer and thawed them in the microwave. That will make them soft and chewy too.

                  2. re: JTPhilly

                    Give me a house made or a sarcone's roll anyday. Amoroso's are sponges.

                    1. re: cwdonald

                      I don't disagree with that, but the further away from this area you get, the closer to hot dog buns the "rolls" become
                      If you're in a good bread desert you'd welcome an Amoroso roll
                      it's all relative

                      I was in my early 20's living in the Hudson Valley area, went to a restaurant that served "steak sandwiches", hadn't been home for a while, so I was nostalgic, had a weak moment and ordered it
                      It was a squishy roll, with a slab of some sort of beef, which was grilled....
                      I'd have given anything for a real steak sandwich at that moment... even a "so-so" steak sandwich

                      1. re: cgarner

                        Really true. Its a fairly small area where the rolls are right.

                    2. re: JTPhilly

                      I attended a business function at a hotel in Philly that served a buffet build-your-own cheesesteak. Steaming tray of steak, slices of cold cheese, steaming tray of onions. Hotel version of a hoagie roll. And in case you wanted lettuce, tomato, and mayo, they had that too.

                      So now the attendees could claim they had an authentic Philly cheesteak experience. They didn't even have to leave the hotel!

                    3. re: cwdonald

                      l know Chumlee's, thus my scoff to buddy Veggo stands.

                    4. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      Just 1078 miles south of the Walt Whitman bridge.

                    5. re: Veggo

                      I vacation in St. Augustine FL, and there are some expat Philistines who have a cheesesteak place called "South-A-Philly". Never been (I hate cheesesteaks), but they claim to fly in par-cooked bread from South Jersey and bake it fresh each day:

                      "We are a staff of friends and family who are proud to bring you the best tasting cheesesteaks and hoagies in Florida. Our bread is shipped down par-cooked from South Jersey, then baked fresh throughout the day, so you can enjoy authentic flavor straight from the oven. Each day we slice our rib-eye by hand to ensure our steak is tender and delicious; we would never dream of serving that pre-sliced stuff! We have original Cheez Whiz to give your cheesesteak that real Philadelphia flavor, the same way we ate them growing up. If that’s not your thing, we also offer American, Provolone, and Swiss cheeses, all from Dietz and Watson, who also provides all of our Italian meats (for an unforgettable Italian hoagie that will make you think you’re right back in Philly!). We have put our hearts into creating sandwiches we are proud to serve, and we hope you enjoy eating them as much as we enjoy making them."


                    6. 1. Some foods should not be "transformed" into low-fat or a healthy version of itself. Just let it be.

                      2. Perhaps some people find Geno's attitude "charming" as part of a shtick or culture. I find it racist and ignorant.

                      3. Pat's is better anyway.

                      1. So Glad I Hate Genos... now if Pat's did this, I'd be picketing

                        Unless it's real shaved meat, (I prefer ribeye) on a good roll, it shouldn't be called a cheesesteak and I hate that Subway and other places outside this area call their fake versions of it a "Philly"
                        it's a slap in the face to the city
                        p.s. I belong to a recipe exchange website and my list of food "favorites" Is such

                        My list of "don't like's" is much shorter: I can't eat lima beans... I had a traumatic experience as a kid. I can't eat sea urchin roe...can't get over the texture. I come across lima's more than sea urchin roe though LOL. "Cheesesteak" hot pockets are nothing like a cheese steak and they shouldn't be permitted to call them that. Other than that, I pretty much will try anything at least once.


                        9 Replies
                        1. re: cgarner

                          How are you on cheesesteak eggrolls?

                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                            I have yet to try one... theoretically, I'm against them

                            I was also against the $100 cheesesteak and all the other 'high end' variables that were going around a few years back
                            They may have been delicious, but I think that its' just another bastardization.
                            There's something very satisfying (to me) about a really good, juicy/greasy/slightly chewy cheesesteak with onions and whiz, on a good roll, eaten outside with the hot peppers on the side, and a cherry coke that I was forced to order in a separate line
                            I'm not saying that you can't have a cheeseteak any other way, or any other place, I'm just saying that maybe the whole 'concept' is being taken too far to be called "steak sandwich" or "cheesteak" with any legitimacy

                            1. re: cgarner

                              I have a similar problem with throwing whatever on a bun and calling it "a burger." Like kung pao shrimp. I think it's stupid, but clearly someone wants to buy this or else they wouldn't be selling it. Some people are going to want to eat their "cheesesteak" with kobe beef and some imported cheese and chipotle aoili and whatever because it's the most expensive and, therefore, best available. So long as the real deal is available somewhere, I couldn't care less.

                              Also the cheesesteak eggrolls really hit the spot when you don't want to burn through a whole damn sandwich.


                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                Not cheesesteaks, but they are tasty. Local place serves them with a spicy ketchup. A nice app.

                                1. re: sal_acid

                                  I'm in DC, so no Amaroso/Sarcones bread, and you're lucky if you can find ribeye. Most of the Korean run Chinese carryouts sell cheesesteak rolls and cheesteak hoagies with ribeye, but on H&S rolls from Baltimore. You gotta tell them to hold the L/T/M.

                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                    Actually Amaroso ships nation wide to restaurants.. you can get it anywhere.. but that is not a good thing.

                                    1. re: cwdonald

                                      A local sandwich shop was bragging about how they were getting theirs shipped fresh twice a week. They did not taste so good. Then they tried copying the recipe to make something similar. It wasn't that much better. I'm sticking with the stuff from Baltimore.

                                      Similar situation with Leidenheimer rolls and po boys. They distribute locally, but the stuff goes stale within hours.

                                  2. re: sal_acid

                                    I guess they are tasty I just like egg rolls that taste like egg rolls - not a fan of the pizza roll either

                              2. Because I have not been successful in finding, on that rare occasion that I crave a cheesesteak, one that I consider "good". I have taken the easy way out and just don't order them in favor of a good hoagie. Personal taste on this has a broad range. I happen to like my steak with aged provolone, marinara, friend peppers on a great roll. Certainly many would find this un-Philly. I dislike that fast food joints and many local sandwich shops product a "Philly" steak that is sub-par to any reasonable standard. The propagation of the cheesesteak in these places is a testament to its popularity albeit a poor example. But a "slap in the face of the city" a find a bit over the top even for a Philly Steak aficionado.

                                1. Gosh, hasn't the writer of that article every heard of the Cheesesteak Factory?

                                  1. here's the problem
                                    places like this, that claim they are "America's Premier Cheesesteak"
                                    any place that carries a Sweet Chili Cheesesteak needs to be closed down
                                    (p.s. that place isn't even that far from here!


                                    Google Image search the word Cheesesteak and look at what comes up,
                                    ihop philly cheesteak stacker
                                    subway cheesesteak
                                    none of these are cheesteaks, they're not even close
                                    why is it that they can regulate calling certain foods by a certain name but they can't regulate the word "cheesesteak? or "steak sandwich"?
                                    (i'm only half kidding about that second part)
                                    the cheesesteak will always be alive and well in this area, but venture out too far and the half assed, poor quality imitators are pervasive

                                    23 Replies
                                    1. re: cgarner

                                      Situation with decent pizza is similar. If you stray from the Pizza Belt (Boston to Wilmington DE) you can get some pretty crappy pie.

                                      And crappy pizza chains are all half of the country has.

                                      1. re: sal_acid

                                        So true. I grew up on the great New Haven pizzas, and the pizza here in Florida is unremarkable. One refreshing exception is Il Panificio in Sarasota.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          MMM New Haven Pizza is the best.

                                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                              Their format is mostly by-the-slice and re-heated, but some of the topping combos are pretty good. Decent beer selection, covered sidewalk tables. It's not Pepe's, but it's better than Demetrios and the chains. Two slices and a beer and you're out for 10 bucks.

                                            2. re: sal_acid

                                              There is some great pizza on the west coast, especially in the San Francisco area. But the midwest is a wasteland.

                                              1. re: cwdonald

                                                Chicago is the only pizza worth daydreaming about!

                                                  1. re: StrandedYankee

                                                    Yeah, but as far as pizza casseroles go, it can be pretty good. Unlike, say, clam chowder made with tomatoes. There's really no excuse for that.

                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                      monkey-Are there not two popular clam chowders, New England and Manhattan? Manhattan with tomatoes and/or a tomato base.

                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                            I do know there is a distinct type of clam chowder made in Rhode Island that uses a clear broth rather than a tomato base or a cream base. I am not sure whether that was what SP1 was referring to...

                                                            1. re: cwdonald

                                                              RI Red is a type of chowder.

                                                              Though, I'll stick with the clear!

                                                      1. re: StrandedYankee

                                                        And NY-style pizza isn't really pizza either. Just ask anyone from Naples.

                                                        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                          Pffft. Naples? Ask anyone from Sicily, they'll tell you. Neapolitians don't know WTF they're doing.

                                                    2. re: cwdonald

                                                      Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix and Supino in Detroit are exceptions to that, but generally agree.

                                                  2. re: cgarner

                                                    UGH - but I guess its hard to export something as stripped down as a real Philly steak joint as a valid business model. - few options, a drooping awning, and a small chance of catching a stray all hallmarks of authenticity.

                                                    "Sweet Chili" is not acceptable oddly Philadelphia seems to tolerate happily "buffalo chicken" anything

                                                    1. re: JTPhilly

                                                      ... what I'm tryin' to say is that you can have a buffalo chicken whatever on a long roll with whatever toppings you want to put on it, just don't call it a 'buffalo chicken cheesesteak'
                                                      (I wonder if the people in Buffalo feel the same way about how the "buffalo chicken wing" has become so far away from the actual food item??

                                                      excuse me while I write a letter to my congressman

                                                      1. re: cgarner

                                                        But what do you call it then? A "buffalo chicken steak & cheese?" A "Buffalohgie?" The "Jumped the Shart?"

                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                          "Buffalogies" has a ring to it - a new food court concept?

                                                          this from my goto steak place .... a horror to the fine cuisine of two venerable cities at once

                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                            Jumped the Shart sounds most appropriate!

                                                    2. This makes me wonder if the vegan thing in Philadelphia is a fad or something that is a harbinger of a more general trend away from meat and toward veggies. The end of the cheesesteak could be the beginning of something else.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: dndicicco

                                                        We are talking about Philly. I don't see vegans staging a coup any time soon.

                                                      2. http://www.philly.com/philly/columnis...

                                                        noooooooo! It's just WRONG!

                                                        (sorry if I've offended any vegans)

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. I like a well made cheesesteak. Only one ingredient should be replaced...the squeeze cheese. Anyone with a true Italian palate should demand provolone.