A truly great cheesesteak harnesses the powers of bread, meat, and cheese, and, like Captain Planet, becomes an ass-kicking sandwich hero far greater than the sum of its parts. It is a magnificent trifecta of juicy, thin-cut beef; crisp, chewy roll; and tangy, salty, gooey cheese. Here's our guide to the best of the best.
'pennsylvania' on Serious Eats
In the Lehigh Valley, which forms a right angle north of Philly and west of New York City by about 60 miles, the question isn't Pat's or Geno's, or even "wiz wit?" (as in, Cheese Whiz with onions). It's about a sauce you won't find anywhere else and its confounding origins. I'm not talking about a sauce comprised of that processed cheese-related product. I'm talking about the default inclusion of a tangy red, tomato-based sauce in cheesesteaks everywhere you go.
Man, did we eat some good things while driving from New York to San Francisco. Here are the delicious highlights from a 10 day trip from that took us through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.
Xi'an Sizzling Woks, a recent addition to Philly's Chinatown, was so good that I went twice over Thanksgiving weekend to eat their liang pi and biang biang.
It feels a little trite to report about another Momofuku-ish noodle joint, but the food at Philly's CHeU Noodle Bar is worth talking about.
Two offerings from Jake's Sandwich Board in Philadelphia go head-to-head for the right to be called the ultimate Thanksgiving sandwich.
Di Bruno Brothers, a Philly fixture since FDR was in office, celebrated the grand opening of its newest location late last week by showing off what they did best—hawking rare Euro cheeses, stretching and braiding mozzarella by hand and, in a fit of D.O.P.-approved pyromania, filling wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano with flaming brandy for on-the-spot cheese sauce. Such showmanship is of a piece with the brand's dedication to customer service, which its owners will tell you is the key to it all. Click through the slideshow to take a tour of the market!
For me, Jake's is as much a standout as any of the newer "better burger" joints. Think of it as a less greasy Five Guys with fresher toppings.
Chefs enjoy when their food's the primary topic of discussion, but at Pizzeria Vetri, it's the oven that captures the conversation. Six feet across and four-plus tons on the scale, the Renato Riccio-made beast is definitely a looker, but it's the peculiar schematics—dual facing mouths, with counter on one end and kitchen on the other—that allows peel wielders to shout orders into the oven and have them float out the other side. Calling up a Caesar or checking in on a calzone? For best results, yell directly into the fire.
Fresh, interesting toppings make for an enjoyable pizza experience at Bufad; the summery Pomodori is a highlight of the season.
New to a largely industrial strip of Washington Avenue jammed with warehouses and construction wholesalers, Kermit's was opened by Adam Ritter, a Philly publican who runs the craft beer bars Sidecar and Kraftwork. Named after New Orleans jazz fixture Kermit Ruffins, the beautifully muraled space has an edgy-but-accessible commissary feel, with its buzzing-about-in-aprons staff, high-output equipment, and towering ceilings. We paid a visit to pizza chef Brian Lofink to chat about his pies.
Hi-ho, Kenji here, reporting from my temporary digs in the West Coast where, thanks to my wife and her penchant for getting offered internships in exotic seaside locations, I'll be reporting from until October. With a large country to traverse and two dogs to do it with, it only made sense to give my best friend a call, rent a car, and do things the old fashioned American way with a road trip. Take a look at everything we ate along the way.
Journalists Michael and Larissa Milne are serious about their pizza. When they told us they'd paid a recent visit to Old Forge, PA as part of a worldwide pizza tour, we wanted to know more. Here's what they had to say about the town that calls itself "Pizza Capital of the World."
The 5th annual Pizza Olympics in Philly was an amazing, overwhelming, gut-busting time. With strong showings by J&J Pizza, Cacia's Pizza Pizzaz, Chickie's and Pete's plain slice, and Paulie's sloppy joe pie, over 10 pizzerias offered up slices to satiate a wide variety of palates.
I envision myself on a day where everything goes wrong: where I have PMS and I lose my wallet and I slip and fall and get mud all over my jeans and have a huge fight with my bestie. On this day, 13th Street Gourmet Pizza's dessert pie is exactly what I would want.
A one-man pizza station is one thing; a pizzeria run by a solitary man is another. And ever since Joe Beddia opened the latter, he's had to address the unforeseen on his own. We take an early look at his eponymous pizzeria in Philadelphia's Fishtown.
The other weekend I made it to Hobbs, a coffee shop right outside of Philadelphia, for their one-night only Hot Dog Jamboree. Chef William Randall puts out some really impressive food from a tiny coffeehouse kitchen and recently became hot dog obsessed, whipping up eight different hot dog specials for the event, and even road-tripped into Jersey to source some of the country's best frankfurters.
Some of my favorite things come out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, including but not limited to: Pretzels, shoo-fly pie, quilts, and freshly roasted specialty coffee. (Wait, what?) It's true: Small-but-snappy roaster Square One Coffee is indeed bringing some delicious coffee to the eighth-largest town in the Keystone State—and hopefully beyond.
Jioio's Pizza, just east of Pittsburgh in Greensburg, PA, has one of the most unusual crusts you'll encounter: sweet like a pie crust, and pan-baked thin and crispy.