(Mmmm neon cheesesteak @ Geno's)
After a bumpy start and a small mechanical problem we rolled into Philadelphia late on Canada Day. Hungry and wanting to start this exploration of American cuisine on the right foot we decided to explore the streets in search of the popular Philly Cheesesteak. We passed several empty takeout shops advertising cheesesteaks before ending up at 9th and Passyunk Avenue in the glow of the neon signs and fluorescent lights of Geno's Steaks and Pat's King of Steaks - even at 11:00pm there was a line.
(Whiz wit @ Pat's)
A cheesesteak is simply some sliced steak, usually ribeye or top round, that is cooked on a griddle and then scrambled into smaller pieces with a spatula. It's served on a soft roll from the local Amoroso bakery with your choice of provolone, american cheese or cheese whiz. It's simple, it's messy and it's delicious. Since they were so close together and we knew about the rivalry between the two cheesesteak restaurants the boyfriend and I tried a steak from both Geno's and Pat's. The sandwiches were almost identical, the only difference being the meat on Pat's was left in large chunks while Geno's was cut smaller. That being said, I enjoyed Pat's steak better. Yes, they are identical and priced the same but I loved how the server at Pat's taunted the line, telling them they shouldn't be afraid to order and acted disgusted when someone didn't know how to order. For the record, it's whiz wit or whiz wit-out (cheese whiz with onions or without onions).
(The Gustaio @ Paesano's)
As good as an $8 cheese and steak sandwich can be it wasn't the food highlight of our stay in Philadelphia. That came the next day while we were searching for lunch and came across Paesano's off of Girard Avenue. The small sandwich shop offers a variety of Philly style hoagie sandwiches with Italian inspiration. For the same price as a philly cheesesteak you can get The Paesano: beef brisket, horseradish mayo, roasted tomatoes, pepperincino, sharp provolone and a fried egg served on a soft hoagie roll. For a sandwich with so many ingredients that is prepared fresh to order and delivers on flavor $8 is a bargain! While Dima ordered the Paesano I ordered the Gustaio which featured lamb sausage, sundried cherry mustarda, gargonzola, fennel and arugula - heaven. Each ingredient worked so well together - the sweetness of the mustarda with the lamb and gargonzola, the pepperiness of the arugula and mild anise flavor of the fennel - delicious.
If you're in Philadelphia have the original cheesesteak, enjoy the novelty. If you want to try something that isn't a tourist attraction or engulfed in neon and flourescent try Paesano's, the flavors will blow your mind.