A cheesesteak (also known as a Philadelphia cheesesteak, Philly cheesesteak, cheesesteak sandwich, cheese steak, or steak and cheese) is a sandwich
made from thinly sliced pieces of beefsteak
and melted cheese in a long hoagie roll
. A popular regional fast food
, it has its roots in the U.S. city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century "by combining frizzled
beef, onions, and cheese in a small loaf of bread", according to a 1987 exhibition catalog published by the Library Company of Philadelphia
and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania
and Harry Olivieri
are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930s.
The exact story behind its creation is debated, but in some accounts, Pat and Harry Olivieri originally owned a hot dog
stand, and on one occasion, decided to make a new sandwich using chopped beef and grilled onions. While Pat was eating the sandwich, a cab driver stopped by and was interested in it, so he requested one for himself. After eating it, the cab driver suggested that Olivieri quit making hot dogs and instead focus on the new sandwich.
They began selling this variation of steak sandwich
es at their hot dog stand near South Philadelphia
's Italian Market
. They became so popular that Pat opened up his own restaurant which still operates today as Pat's King of Steaks
The sandwich was originally prepared without cheese; Olivieri said provolone
cheese was first added by Joe "Cocky Joe" Lorenza, a manager at the Ridge Avenue location.
Cheesesteaks have become popular at restaurants and food carts throughout the city with many locations being independently owned, family-run businesses.
Variations of cheesesteaks are now common in several fast food
Versions of the sandwich can also be found at high-end restaurants.
Many establishments outside of Philadelphia refer to the sandwich as a "Philly cheesesteak".
The meat traditionally used is thinly sliced rib-eye
or top round
, although other cuts of beef are also used.
On a lightly oiled griddle
at medium temperature, the steak slices are quickly browned and then scrambled into smaller pieces with a flat spatula
. Slices of cheese are then placed over the meat, letting it melt, and then the roll is placed on top of the cheese. The mixture is then scooped up with a spatula and pressed into the roll, which is then cut in half.
Common additions include sautéed onions
, hot sauce
, and black pepper
In Philadelphia, cheesesteaks are invariably served on hoagie rolls. Among several brands, perhaps the most famous are Amoroso
rolls; these rolls are long, soft, and slightly salted. One source writes that "a proper cheesesteak consists of provolone
or Cheez Whiz
slathered on an Amoroso roll and stuffed with thinly shaved grilled meat," while a reader's letter to an Indianapolis
magazine, lamenting the unavailability of good cheesesteaks, wrote that "the mention of the Amoroso roll brought tears to my eyes." After commenting on the debates over types of cheese and "chopped steak or sliced", ''Risk and Insurance'' magazine declared "The only thing nearly everybody can agree on is that it all has to be piled onto a fresh, locally baked Amoroso roll."
, Cheez Whiz
, and provolone
are the most commonly used cheeses or cheese products put on to the Philly cheesesteak.
White American cheese, along with provolone cheese, are the favorites due to their mild flavor and medium consistency. Some establishments melt the American cheese to achieve the creamy consistency, while others place slices over the meat, letting them melt slightly under the heat. ''Philadelphia Inquirer'' restaurant critic Craig LaBan says "Provolone is for aficionados, extra-sharp for the most discriminating among them." Geno's
owner, Joey Vento
, said, "We always recommend the provolone. That's the real cheese."
Cheez Whiz, first marketed in 1952, was not yet available for the original 1930 version, but has spread in popularity. A 1986 ''New York Times
'' article called Cheez Whiz "the ''sine qua non
'' of cheesesteak connoisseurs." In a 1985 interview, Pat Olivieri's nephew Frank Olivieri said that he uses "the processed cheese spread familiar to millions of parents who prize speed and ease in fixing the children's lunch for the same reason, because it is fast." Cheez Whiz is "overwhelmingly the favorite" at Pat's, outselling runner-up American by a ratio of eight or ten to one, while Geno's claims to go through eight to ten cases of Cheez Whiz a day.
In 2003, while running for President of the United States, John Kerry
made what was considered a major faux pas when campaigning in Philadelphia and went to ''Pat's King of Steaks'' and ordered a cheesesteak with Swiss
* A chicken cheesesteak is made with chicken instead of beef
* A mushroom cheesesteak is a cheesesteak topped with mushrooms
* A pepper cheesesteak is a cheesesteak topped with green bell peppers
, hot cherry peppers, long hot peppers, or sweet peppers
* A pizza steak is a cheesesteak topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and may be toasted in a broiler
* A cheesesteak hoagie contains lettuce and tomato in addition to the ingredients found in the traditional steak sandwich, and may contain other elements often served in a hoagie
* A vegan cheesesteak is a sandwich that replaces steak and cheese with vegan ingredients, such as seitan
or mushrooms for the steak, and soy-based cheese.
* A steak milano is a cheesesteak containing grilled or fried tomatoes and oregano
*The Heater is served at Phillies
baseball games at Citizens Bank Park
, so named for being a spicy variation as it is topped with jalapenos, Buffalo sauce, and jalapeno cheddar.
* Barros Luco
* Italian beef
* List of American sandwiches
* List of regional dishes of the United States
* List of sandwiches
* List of steak dishes
* Roast beef sandwich
* Steak sandwich
External links An Illustrated History of the Philadelphia Cheesesteak
Category:Cuisine of Philadelphia
Category:Cuisine of the Mid-Atlantic states
Category:Italian-American culture in Philadelphia