A Wynnewood resident writes: In your opinion, who has the best steak sandwiches in the western suburbs? My vote is for Mama’s Pizzeria on Belmont Avenue in Bala Cynwyd.
Dear Wynnewood resident,
That’s what I like: a question followed by a recommendation. And I can’t argue with Mama’s; she knows what’s best for you. For the sake of discussion, I hereby refer to steak sandwiches as cheesesteaks (preferably with American or provolone cheese).
If Philly created the cheesesteak, then Delaware County perfected it, with its hundreds of pizza and hoagie shops. I can’t say enough about the cheesesteak choices in that meaty part of the local world: The Dairy Cottage in Springfield, which serves delicious, Louisville Slugger-sized steaks (dairycottage.com); Joe’s Pizza on Route 320 in Broomall (610-356-9848); Drexel Hill Style Pizza on West Chester Pike in Broomall, which has offered the same lip-smacking sandwich since it opened in 1971 (610-356-7773); and I better not exclude the 55-year-old Thunderbird, also in Broomall just down West Chester Pike, with the Greco family’s ever-tasty sammich (theoriginalthunderbird.com).
Moving north to the Main Line, the clickety-clack of grills gone wild resonates up and down Route 30. A popular fave in Wayne, Pie in the Sky heaps the finest chipped steak on an “only the best” Italian roll from Liscio’s Bakery (pieintheskyofwayne.com). A newer addition that’s up the road in Paoli is Rocco’s Steaks (610-640-1441). It uses 100-percent rib eye—a trend I’m seeing more and more in the burbs (and I’m liking it). Rocco’s is a drive-thru, with a few outside picnic tables.
In Chester County, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Pepper Mill (peppermillwc.com). For those who like their cheesesteaks served lean and chipped, few satisfy as well as this East Goshen oldie-but-goody. And, trust me, ordering a cheesesteak at Appetite’s on Main in Exton is like your very own Man (or Woman) v. Food episode (appetitesonmain.com). If you’re lucky enough to get all that meat and cheesy goodness down, then you’ve indeed won the competition.
But “the best” for me right now is Joey’s Famous Philly Cheesesteaks & More! on Route 23 in Phoenixville (yosteaks.com). Joey’s has “the formula” down pat: juicy slices of fresh rib-eye steak piled high on a Philly-encapsulating Italian roll from Liscio’s Bakery. Joey’s sandwich transcends typical steak fare because it has an extra, intangible “Yo!” And the authentic steaks are complemented by local classics like Herr’s chips, Frank’s soda and Tastykakes. Joey’s is also a shrine to “Yo!”—that is, all things Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers, with signed photos of luminaries and Rocky loops on the corner TV. And if all this isn’t enough for you, Rita’s Water Ice is next door. That’s about as Philly as it gets, this side of Philly.
Tell us your favorite cheesesteak place by posting a comment below.