The Lincoln Highway, which was dedicated in 1913 and was the first cross-country road for automobiles in the United States, cuts a path through Philadelphia’s western suburbs, including parts of the storied Main Line. In the central Chester County town of Thorndale, and right on the Lincoln Highway, sits Joey’s Pizza. Its food is worthy of the great road on which it is served.
My wife and I exited I-476 onto US-30, which is also the Lincoln Highway for much of its length, in Radnor and headed west. I wasn’t sure how far we’d go before stopping to eat. There were several possibilities on my restaurant list for the day, including a couple classic old diners. One, the Frazer Diner, appeared to be closed when we drove past it.
The Lincoln Highway passes through a series of old suburban towns, including, Devon, Berwyn, Paoli, Malvern, Frazer and Downingtown, as it winds west, away from Philadelphia. There were a few good photo opportunities, although I shot them from the moving car, rather than asking my wife to pull over every time I wanted to photograph something.
I was disappointed not to see any of the classic Lincoln Highway roadside markers and had to settle for taking a photo of a regular street sign.
We weighed stopping at one of the dinners we passed by, but continued on to the last restaurant on my list, which was also the furthest west among the options. Thorndale sits between the better-known towns of Downingtown and Coatesville.
Joey’s Pizza is nothing special to look at, inside or out. But they have plenty of seating and afford interested customers an open view of the kitchen, so I got to watch the entire process of our half-mushroom, half-sausage pizza being made. I did not have a view of the grill where my cheesesteak with Cooper Sharp cheese and fried onions was prepared from where we sat, but I could hear the meat sizzling.
We also happened to be there while a very big block of what I assume was Cooper Sharp cheese was being sliced on Joey’s electric slicer.
My wife started with a house salad and was nice enough to let me have one of the visually-pleasing croutons.
Of course, I wasn’t there to eat salad. The photos of their pizza and cheesesteaks that I had seen, not to mention the many online raves I’d read in the Facebook Cheesesteak Gurus group, had me stoked to dig in.
And there was no let down. Both the pizza and cheesesteak were fabulous. I’d rate each among the best I’ve had in the Philly region, which of course means anywhere in the case of the steak.
Joey’s pizza oven heats up to an extremely high temperature and put out this blistered beauty in just a few minutes. I’ve had enough pizza in the New Haven, Connecticut area to know that charred pizza crust is a good thing when done properly, as it was in this case. And the pizza-maker shredded on a good-sized portion of either Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese before serving it.
The cheesesteak roll was one of the best I’ve had; seeded and a little crusty, but soft inside of that crust. It contained an abundance of very tender and well-seasoned chopped beef that was beautifully mixed with the Cooper Sharp and fried onions. This was a great steak.
I snapped this shot of one of the other places we considered eating at as we headed back east, after leaving Joey’s.
We also discussed stopping at Minella’s, one of the other diners on the Highway, to pick up dessert for later, but kept going.
Eventually, after moving on to other roads, our appetites returned to the point where we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to stop at Freddy’s in Broomall for frozen custard.
My wife went with a scoop of chocolate custard topped with almonds and strawberries. I asked for a peanut-butter shake. And while it was given to me with a straw, it had the consistency of a concrete, so I wound up eating it with a spoon. It was good, regardless of how I ate it.
The Lincoln Highway runs from New York City to San Francisco. There is much to see and eat along its many miles. I’d like to experience much more of it. But there is plenty to enjoy on the old Highway that is closer to home in the meantime.