Having munched on several Philly cheesesteaks in the past few years, we have been curious what a real cheesesteak should taste like, short of driving to Philadelphia, which isn't really that far away (~7-1/2 hour drive). It is far enough away that I wouldn't attempt it on an empty stomach. Perhaps one day...
The leaves were just turning and snowflakes were nowhere in the forecast when we googled "authentic cheesesteak Cleveland" and discovered Original Steaks and Hoagies in Twinsburg, only ~35 minutes away, advertising on their website as the "only authentic steak and hoagie shop in Northeast Ohio."
A few weeks ago, with temperatures in the 20s, we decided to check out their authentic Philly cheesesteak. The dining area was brightly lit and clean. There was a family seated with two boys around 7-9 years of age quietly wolfing down their meal, too busy to horse around (another good sign).
We already knew what we were ordering when we walked up to the register, but we took a few minutes to review the menu in the event there was something else. Who were we kidding?
Bug ordered the cheesesteak [sandwich] with provolone ($7.75), while I ordered on the cheesesteak salad (what?) with provolone($7.00). Sweet potato tots ($3.00) sounded intriguing so we added that to our order.
Several minutes passed, when a young woman perkily delivered our basket of tots, and inquired on a dressing to add to my salad. I asked if it would be all right if I ate a little first to find out if I needed any dressing. She cheerfully replied that it would be fine.
The bite-sized sweet potatoes were crisp and slightly sweet. They weren't as sweet as I expected. My second tot was with a touch of honey. The amber kiss spiked the sweetness beautifully.
I avoid salt as much as possible; yet I am quite fond of beef jerky and arare - Japanese rice crackers that are baked with shoyu (soy sauce) and sometimes with nori (seaweed/laver). Something compelled me to sprinkle a few granules of salt on the side. The addition of a wee bit of salt added more depth and elevated them to addictive status (not a pod person!). The sizzling sound of meat and rhythmic clanking of spatulas scooping and chopping over a griddle played in the background.
With just a few tots to go, our cheesesteak order arrived.
My jaw dropped. I had never seen such a generous cheesesteak serving. Bug was delighted. Much like the boys seated at the next table, Bug silently munched his sandwich.
With such a liberal portion of steak, it is difficult to see how fresh the vegetables were. The cool salad made of fresh, crisp lettuce, firm tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers, contrasted well with the hot, thin, shredded meat.
A realization emerged of just how complacent I have grown with the quality of salad greens served at work - often freeze damaged and limp.
A few minutes later, the young girl stopped by to see how everything was and asked if I would like some dressing. My salad was great, no dressing needed. Bug and I rarely eat red meat, so I've grown to appreciate its flavor without the need for heavy seasoning.
I stole the second to last bite of Bug's sandwich and became envious. While I enjoyed the salad, the cheesesteak nestled in that wonderful roll gave me goosebumps. The bread was crusty on the outside, yet moist and soft on the inside, with a subtle sweetness.
Jeff came from the back to inquire how our meal tasted. I felt embarrassed to give my unqualified opinion, as I have never been to Philadelphia to provide a meaningful comment.
I remarked how impressed I was with the salad, but confessed feeling some regret having ordered it, as the sandwich, in comparison, was incredible. He flashed a smile and pointed to a black picture frame that hung on the wall. Within its border, in large bold letters, a logo read, "Amoroso." He explained that their bread is delivered from Amoroso Bakery in Philadelphia (wow). He further elaborated that they use ribeye, expressing its superiority over another commonly used cut, top round.
Jeff recommended the cheesesteak with Whiz as, no contest, the best way to eat a cheesesteak, explaining that the flavor and texture of Cheez Whiz makes it infinitely better.
On the way out, I asked why they decided to open a restaurant in Cleveland, he mentioned that his uncle (the owner) lived in the area and their family ran restaurants in Philly so it was a natural decision to open one in the area.
Bug and I thanked Jeff, then set out into the freezing wind warmed by the wonderful conversation and great food. My mind wandered, hoping we won't wait another season to return for their cheesesteak - wit Whiz.
Original Steaks and Hoagies
10735 Ravenna Rd
Twinsburg, OH 44087
Tel: (330) 998-6586