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KatieLoeb

Hoagies, Cheesesteaks, Pork Italiano

402 posts in this topic

steakgeorges.jpg

There are now three vendors of cheesesteaks at the Reading Terminal Market, so I thought it was time to begin a taste test. First up: Pizza By George.

As you can see from the photo, lots of meat. The meat was nicely beefy tasting, though I don't know what cut it's from. You've got lots of choices for cheese. I opted for their house-made cheese sauce, an obvious take on Whiz, and onions. Given the huge portion of meat, there wasn't enough sauce, which was added to the meat on the grill just before constructing the sandwich. (Other cheese options included American and either mild or sharp provolone.) The steak roll was bready, though not too much so; the sesame seeds on the long roll were a nice touch. The basic cheese steak is $7.50, though either provolne will cost you 75-cents extra. They also offer pizza, mushroom rabe, spinach-garlic, blt, and wild mushroom and Italian (peppers, rabe, sharp provolone) variations for $8,50-$8.95. They've also got chicken steaks.

As part of their expansion to handle cheesesteaks, George's added deep fryers, so you can get fries, rings, fried ravioli (an import from St. Louis?) and chicken strips. The french fries looked good, and made from fresh cut potatoes, skin on. Thought they looked appetizing, I was disappointed. The size of the fries was perfect, almost Belgian style, but the frying was where they went off-track: single fried, and the final product was limp.

The cooking style for the steak uses thin slices which are they chopped on the griddle. Although the fries were sub-par, the sandwich itself is a winner. Maybe not the best in town, but up there.

Next on the taste test will be either Carmen's or Spataro's.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Bob,

Since you are doing a cheesesteak taste test at Reading Terminal, I nominate you to be the one to try the bacon fries (thick-cut fries served with cheese, bacon pieces and sour cream) at Barb and Suzy's Kitchen while you are at it!

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Bob,

Since you are doing a cheesesteak taste test at Reading Terminal, I nominate you to be the one to try the bacon fries (thick-cut fries served with cheese, bacon pieces and sour cream) at Barb and Suzy's Kitchen while you are at it!

I have. You can find my observations here. In a nutshell, though the toppings were fine, the fries were limp.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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For the past few weeks, Dinic’s has added roasted long hot peppers to their offerings, in addition to the sweet roasted bell peppers. Joe Nicolosi says as long as the hot peppers are inexpensive, they’ll have them. But, given the pepper’s seasonal nature, don’t expect them when the wholesale case price escalates this winter.

When Dinic’s roasts their peppers every morning, they add oil, garlic, salt and some hot pepper flakes. They omit the flakes for the mildly-firery long hots.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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carmensteak.jpg

On to round two of the Reading Terminal Market cheesesteak survey.

Today it's Carmen's, who until he added cheesesteaks to his menu earlier this year was best known for hoagies.

Carmen puts a half-pound of meat on his rolls, though with shrinkage it seemed a bit less weighty than the overflowing steak I had last week at Pizza by George. The flavor, though, was solid. You've got your standard assortment of cheeses (whiz, American, provolone). What did throw me off, however, was that Carmen's charges extra (iirc, 35 cents) for adding hot sauce: it's listed as a Buffalo Steak on the menu board. Carmen is fond of saying you can "upgrade" your steak (as in, adding hot sauce), but what (to my taste, at least) could use upgrading is the stek/hoagie roll. It's your standard Amoroso, which I find just a bit too white-bready.

Still, it's a decent sandwich that satisfies anyone's cravings for a Philly cheesesteak. At $7.55 (iirc) fair value if you don't expect a belly-buster.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Knowing Carmen, I seriously doubt that his rolls would come from Amoroso's. He used a little known bakery in South Jersey when he ran Rocco's Hoagies in the Bellevue Food Court. He is a serious hoagie roll fanatic.


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Knowing Carmen, I seriously doubt that his rolls would come from Amoroso's. He used a little known bakery in South Jersey when he ran Rocco's Hoagies in the Bellevue Food Court. He is a serious hoagie roll fanatic.

Well, there were big boxes marked Amoroso's, so if he was using a different bread, they were using somebody else's boxes. Regardless of the baker, my evaluation of the bread stands: it was a bit too white-bready for me. But otherwise a very nice sandwich.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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091002tommy.jpg

Messy of the Messy & Picky blog thinks the Italian pulled pork at DiNic's is the best sandwich around. I'm hard-pressed to place a single sandwich alone on a pedestal, even the No. 5 combo from Goodman's Deli of my youth, but DiNic's is certainly worthy of praise.

It's difficult to go for anything other than the roast pork with greens and aged provolone, though cases can certainly be made for other sandwiches at DiNic's. My buddy Ralphie the Winemaker raves about Tommy's cold roast beef with horseradish, roasted sweet peppers and provolone, and the Italian-style brisket is no less a masterpiece than the Jewish-style brisket (ask for it with extra fat) at Hershel's across center court.

Messy likes his pulled pork with horseradish and provolone. When I asked Joe Nicolosi what he'd recommend, he offered long hots and provlone. It was an excellent combination, even if the surplus of seeds in the pepper added a texture I could do without (the extra heat from the seeds was just fine). The only crunch I want on that sandwich is from the burned bits of meat, which the sandwich-makers make sure are mixed in with the tender, succulent, pulled-to-order meat. Just don't expect a barbeque style pulled pork. This pig sandwich is thoroughly Italian; those who abhore garlic should stay away.

So, next time you're at DiNic's, break out of the ordinary. Try your pork pulled.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Joe had to twist my arm a few times - but he finally convinced me to try their brisket sandwich. Better than the pork sandwich? Probably not. But DiNic's brisket plus aged provolone is awfully good.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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091002tommy.jpg

Messy of the Messy & Picky blog thinks the Italian pulled pork at DiNic's is the best sandwich around.

Correction: It was Picky, not Messy, who waxed enthusiastically about the Italian pulled pork.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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091015spatarosteak.jpg

When I first started visiting the Reading Terminal Market more than a quarter century ago, Spataro's was known as the place where you could stop for lunch and pay about as little for a sandwich as humanly possible. Inflation and menu upgrades have changed that, though Spataro's (which has since moved from one part of Center Court to another) still represents good value.

The addition of cheese steaks to Spataro's bill of fare earlier this year is partly responsible for the hike in average menu cost ($7 for a plain steak, iirc). Their version of the cheese steak represents the third and final entry in my RTM survey of this Philadelphia classic.

The best thing about Spataro's is the meat. Although it would take side-by-side comparisons to confirm this (I've spaced my tastings over the past five or six weeks), I thought their meat was the beefiest I've tried so far, when compared to By George and Carmen's. There was also a satisfactory taste of onions in my sandwich though I could have used a bit more. The bread was okay, the typical soft steak roll -- I'd like just a hint of crunch to the crust.

The main failing was the cheese: I couldn't taste it, let alone detect the cheesy, gooey mouth feel I want my cheese steak to convey. As best as I could determine, they used two thin slices of American, though provolone is also offered. Another failing is the unavailability of hot sauce.

Still, it's a fine representation of a cheese steak and you won't be disappointed when you crave this icon of our fair city's culinary heritage.

More About DiNic's Pulled Pork

One morning last week Joe Nicolosi offered me a taste of some of his pulled pork fresh out of the oven. Gotta say, while this sandwich is excellent eating any time of the day, it's better if you can get it fresh before the fat has a chance to re-congeal. It absolutely melted in the mouth, with textural contrast offered by the crunchy bits. As previously noted, don't confuse this version with what you're likely to find in North Carolina: the seasonings are Italian (with tons of garlic), not barbecue.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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091119supperporkbelly.jpg

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I decided to lunch at Supper. She had the hot dog (see the hot dog topic for comments on that), I went for the pork belly reuben.

The sandwich, served open-faced on good Jewish rye (no, it didn't make it kosher) lathered with Thousand Islands dressing, nice slice of gelatinous, fatty belly (though not crispy as advertised on the menu), sauerkraut, gruyere and apple. When brought to the table, I thought all the "reubenesque" additives would overwhelm the pork, but they didn't. While the pork flavor didn't dominate, it was there and worked well, particularly with the kraut and apple, which are traditional pork accompaniments. The homemade "pastrami" flavored potato chips, thin, crispy and greasless, added a nice crunch to the plate.

In ordering, I was torn between the hot dog, the reuben and the lamb pastrami sandwich. What clinched my choice was the presence on the beer list of Fallen Apple, a cream ale brewed with fresh-pressed apple cider from Furthermore Beer of Spring Green, Wisconsin. (It's actually produced for Furthermore by a contract brewer, Sand Creek, up north in Black River Falls.) As I noted about the sandwich, apples and pork product are a natural combination (apples are picked and pork slaughtered at the same time of the year). Apple-flavored beer might not be for everyone, but it's worth trying when you've got the right food to go with it. While I wouldn't order it as a session beer, it was an excellent pairing for this lunch.

091119supperbeer.jpg


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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That Furthermore beer sounds intriguing -- I've always been underwhelmed by Sand Creek's house beer (my in-laws have a place near Black River Falls), but hopefully their contract stuff is better. And the sandwich looks to die for.


BROG, a beer blog

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Sorry I don't have a picture of it, but I had a pretty incredible sandwich the other day at an unlikely location. I had it at the bar called Alfa, at 1709 Walnut. It doesn't seem like the kind of place that would have good food, but it in fact has a surprisingly adventurous menu. They do have some typical bar food, like wings and burgers and sliders, etc, but also more sophisticated dinners, including several nightly specials (all of which they serve until 1am, seven days a week!)

I recently couldn't resist their version of a Uraguayan Chivito, which is not on the regular menu right now, but I'm told it's a frequent special. It's kind of like a Chesesteak crossed with a Cubano visited by a muffuletta - or more accurately, all those things piled together. This one featured thin, tender slices of filet mignon, ham, bacon, Oaxacan cheese, a fried egg, olive salad and roasted peppers, all piled on a crusty long roll. It was a real challenge to get in my mouth, but with a little squeezing and squashing and stretching, I managed somehow. And wow, that is a delicious sandwich! It's a really nice collision of flavors, and despite the fact that it probably weighed about as much as the average SEPTA bus, I couldn't stop eating it until it was gone. Pretty good fries too, not that I could manage to eat many of those.

So, I took two lessons from this:

1 - we should eat at Alfa more often.

2 - we need more Chivitos in this town.


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Two guys open a cheese steak joint in DC. After they get the first and then the second store up and running smoothly, they decide to add roast pork to their menu, but they work to get the recipe just right. One of the partners, Chris Patten, uses John's, DiNic's and Tony Luke's as his guide. After finally perfecting the dish to his satisfaction, he adds to the menu. But, according to this Washington Post article,

Still, Patten can't, or won't, say his hoagie beats John's or DiNic's -- yet. "Those guys have been doing this for decades upon decades," he said. "Let's see how I feel in 10 years."

'Nuff said.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Here's the best quote from the Washington Post article:

...Most Americans think of the cheesesteak as Philly's signature sandwich. But there has been a slow realization around the country that the City of Brotherly Love also deserves praise for a sandwich that would never include Cheez Whiz. The roast pork hoagie taps into Philadelphia's Italian American roots. From Italy comes the thinly sliced meat, the shards of aged provolone and the broccoli rabe. From America comes the super-sized portion and the everything-is-better-on-a-bun portability. The result transcends either place: It's a balance of meaty richness, sharp cheese and spicy, bitter greens that is greater than the sum of its parts...

How long have we all been saying this? :rolleyes: Nice to know someone finally heard us!!


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Joe had to twist my arm a few times - but he finally convinced me to try their brisket sandwich. Better than the pork sandwich? Probably not. But DiNic's brisket plus aged provolone is awfully good.

Didn't take a photo, but was at Cajun Kate's on Friday, and their Brisket Po Boy can stand its ground vs. the Philly Cheesesteak or Roast Pork... the combination of the brisket's juices with the "fully dressed" liquids creates a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts...


I belch, therefore, I ate...

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Agreed. What I particularly like about Cajun Kate's version is that I will have dripped enough on and about me that I can savor the aromas all the way home in my car.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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A disappointing note in the tune for Nick's Charcoal Pit. Although Nick's Special Sandwich was everything Holly promised, watching the cook spit, twice, into the garbage can by the cooktop spoiled the experience.

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I'd never noticed that there was a Capriotti's in Exton, not sure how long it's been there (in the Fairfield Place shopping center, with the Giant supermarket and the Staples.) It just so happens that a Thanksgiving dinner leftovers hoagie sounded like exactly the right thing.

The Bobby:

TheBobby.jpg

Hand-carved roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mayo. Delicious. I didn't even mind the big piece of bone i found in there, I just figured it proved that the meat was carved from a real bird.

http://www.capriottis.com/


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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The Day After sandwich at Havana in New Hope was my favorite for many years.

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Philadelphia Magazine prints 18 Best Sandwiches in the new Cheap Eats issue, just hitting the newsstands. Warning: the slide show will cause a Pavlovian reaction.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Philadelphia Magazine prints 18 Best Sandwiches in the new Cheap Eats issue, just hitting the newsstands. Warning: the slide show will cause a Pavlovian reaction.

All I can say is, thank god (or is it, alas!) I don't live in Philly anymore.

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OK Philly folk: a couple of us over at The WikiGullet Project started up an article about the Cheesesteak (of course). Step one was to read what Wikipedia had, which led me to the comments there, where I found this:

Anyone else think that there should be a section on how to order a steak in Philly? From personal experience, if you go up to the front of the line at Pat's or Gino's and if you don't know what you want, you get sent back to the end of said line. A simple section of the basics (wiz wit, wiz witout) would be cool, especially for the Philly locals that are tired of tourists taking 3 minutes to order a simple wiz wit, ya know?

probably not. The specific procedure for ordering a specific cheesesteak at a specific restaurant likely falls outside of the realm of what Wikipedia is designed for. See WP:NOT. Even though Gino's and Pat's are the most famous cheesesteak places, the quirks of each restaurant doesn't really belong in a general article on cheesesteaks.

I'm from Philadelphia, lived here my whole life, and I'd go with not mentioning it. Philly locals don't order like that, and I hate the image the tourism market paints of the whole thing.

...so, of course, my question is: is there really a local Philly cheesesteak ordering taxonomy, or is the whole "whiz wit" thing tourist BS? I must admit that last time I was at Pat's I did in fact order a "whiz wit" and they gave me what I was expecting. But I don't know how the locals in line were ordering theirs.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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