I mentioned at the end of my Seinfeld post that I had something special planned for this week’s cheesesteak outing, but that it wasn’t guaranteed to pan out. It didn’t – but not for the reason I had feared. As luck would have it, the friend I was supposed to go with had to postpone, and it’s a place for which I need a second. They have a great reputation for both cheesesteaks and pizza, so the plan was to split the steak and also get a pizza.
I’ll get to that place in August. In the meantime, as I’ve addressed previously, there is always a Plan B ready should my first option fail to materialize. My alternative this time was a place I would have gotten to at some point in the next month anyway, as it’s one of the dwindling number of steak shops I need to try before putting out my final list of the best in the Philly region.
West Chester has been the county seat for Chester County, PA, which is west of Philadelphia, since 1786. It’s also one of the larger suburban Philadelphia towns. Whenever the subject of its best cheesesteak arises on Facebook’s Cheesesteak Guru’s board – one of my main sources for determining which steaks to try – Lorenzo’s Steaks & Hoagies is the overwhelming favorite. I finally visited them to see how good their steaks are for myself Saturday.
Lorenzo’s has the look of a classic sandwich shop with the addition of a small, personality-free room that contains a few tables and a TV off to one side.
Their trademark sandwich is the Town Talk Cheesesteak. It’s made with chopped ribeye, Cooper Sharp cheese and fried onions, which just happens to be the way I generally order mine. My decision was easy. The only adjustment I made was requesting the optional seeded roll. As is the case with many of the steak shops I’ve visited, you need to make that request at Lorenzo’s or you’ll get your sandwich on a seedless roll.
My wife had already eaten lunch and came along mainly to keep me company. She asked only for an order of onion rings with an added request that I help her eat them. I like onion rings and didn’t put up any fuss.
They had an above-average soda selection, and I went with Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer after having a Black Cherry Wishniak earlier in the week.
There was also a guy who stopped in to pick up an order and brought his guitar with him. He played an acoustic version of one of the band Heart’s popular songs, which is escaping me at the moment, before grabbing his food and heading out the door with the guitar and any hope of additional live entertainment. You can just barely make him out beyond the far refrigerated case in the below photo.
Then the food arrived.
The onion rings were good, but not among the most memorable I’ve had.
The Town Talk Cheesesteak was better than good and certainly memorable.
I was very happy I requested the seeded roll. It was one of the few genuinely crusty rolls I’ve had during this run and also wasn’t too doughy inside of that crust. I asked the young lady who brought our food where Lorenzo’s gets their rolls. She thought it was Corropolese Bakery, but seemed a little uncertain. If she was correct, then, like Liscio’s, Corropolese must vary the formulas for the seeded rolls they bake for their various customers. I’ve had at least a couple before and they weren’t this crusty or firm. This one actually reminded me a bit of a Sarcone’s seeded roll. I’ve waxed poetic about how great those are in past posts.
There was plenty of meat on there too. I could be very picky and point out that there wasn’t much at one end of the roll, but that’s an extremely minor quibble. It was just the last inch or so. And the meat was well chopped and seasoned.
There was also no shortage of Cooper sharp, and it was nicely blended in with the meat, as were the onions.
This was another outstanding cheesesteak that I only had one real complaint about: It wasn’t cut into two halves.
I considered taking it back up to the counter to ask that it be cut, but I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal and started eating it. While I was swooning over how great the steak was, it began to fall apart in one section after my first few bites. The lack of cutting may be less of an issue with their standard rolls. But the seeded roll’s crust was hard enough to start to crack at one end of the steak’s bottom side after I picked it up a couple times. An engineer could probably explain this better than I can, but due to the one-foot length of what I had in hand – as opposed to six-inches if it had been cut – it was bound to bend and the crust couldn’t stand the additional stress.
Clumps of meat began to fall out of the roll and onto my plate. I managed to put everything back together a couple times and eat my way through the end of the sandwich without significant difficulty after getting past the trouble spot.
Following that episode, it occurred to me that when I was reading Lorenzo’s menu via their online ordering system the previous day, I noticed that they had a box to check if you want your sandwich sliced. After my experience there today, I recommend that they reconsider that policy and make cutting the sandwich the default with a special request needed to get it uncut – at least for steaks on seeded rolls.
After a moment of serious reflection, I concluded that I would not penalize them for this when it comes to deciding whether they’ll make my final rankings and how high they’ll be if they do. It was unquestionably a great steak other than that one factor. If I go back there, I’ll remember to request a cut sandwich. And I recommend that any of you who decide to check out Lorenzo’s Steaks & Hoagies do the same thing.
After I finished the steak, my wife and I took a little stroll around downtown West Chester.
I’ve got at least one and possibly two more cheesesteaks lined up for this week. As I’ve indicated, there aren’t that many left to eat before I put the final list together. I’ll probably also want to return to one or two more places to give them another look. Those will be shops I know are in my Top Ten, but for which I’m a little uncertain about exactly how high they should be.
As always, thanks for following along as I work my way to the end of this long and rewarding project.