I’ve spent a good chunk of time in Philly during my four years of college. Over this time, I ate my fair share of cheesesteak. No surprise there. So, when it comes to cheesesteaks, I have really high standards. I’ve eaten most of the big names in Philly and I know what makes a good cheesesteak great.
Now, I get it. Cheesesteaks are not going to be as cheap in New York as they are in Philly. And that’s a shame since it is street food and is supposed to be cheap. It’s a blue collar sandwich for the common man, but I’ve come to terms with it. However, there are still a few aspects of a cheesesteak that are musts and only a few of the cheesesteak shops in NYC have met my requirements. On the many visits I’ve taken to the mobile Phil’s Steaks trucks, they have passed my tests with flying colors.
The first test is the bread. In Philly, nearly all cheesesteak joints get their rolls delivered from the famed bakery, Amoroso’s. I love that Phil’s actually imports real Amoroso rolls from Philly. They lose a little bit of their signature crackly exterior in transit and I’m sure one of the many talented bakeries in NYC could properly replicate the texture they have in Philly, but I’m still really fond of the not-quite-perfect Amoroso Roll.
There are a number of other elements I think Phil’s gets right too. I think their cheesesteak filling ratio is done properly. There’s enough moist meat and cheese to balance the large, thick roll and also use enough salt and pepper, something most NYC cheesesteaks lack.
Also, I know this is a divisive topic, but I really appreciate that they offer cheese whiz. There’s not many foods as obviously artificial as cheese whiz that I enjoy eating, but I have a soft spot for that thick, oozy, glowing, neon orange substance and really love that I can get my fix at Phil’s.
In conclusion, though these cheesesteaks are priced quite a bit higher than they would be in Philly, Phil’s Steaks does a better job replicating this classic Philly sandwich that most in NYC. All of the right flavors and textures are there and it’s close enough to the real thing to bring me right back to my college glory days.
Know of another legit cheesesteak in NYC? Let me know in the comments below.