Those of you who have read at least a few of my cheesesteak posts probably realize by now that I prefer sturdy to soft rolls. In this context, ‘sturdy’ relates primarily to the crust and can mean that it either is at least slightly crispy or has a chewy quality to it that is usually not present with softer rolls.
5. Goomba’s Pizzaria (Colmar, PA)
What I wrote (from my second visit to Goomba’s): “I’m not sure where they get their seeded rolls, which come standard, but they are extremely good. The crust is just slightly crunchy and has a fantastic chewy quality. It was also bigger than most rolls, even those of the same length. That enables Goomba’s grill chefs to shovel 14 ounces of chopped ribeye on there without it seeming as if the roll is overstuffed.”
4. Silvio’s Deli (Hatboro, PA):
I haven’t posted on Silvio’s yet. My plan was to do so after trying one of their cheesesteak strombolis. I’ve already been there this year for a regular cheesesteak and a hoagie. I just haven’t gotten around to the stromboli yet, but the two sandwiches came on the best seedless roll I’ve had during my cheesesteak outings over the past year. They have a wonderful crust and such a pure chew.
3. Sarcone’s Bakery seeded (Delco’s Original/Wolf’s Superior Sandwiches)
What I wrote (from my post on Delco’s Original Steaks): “The seeded roll turned out to be from Sarcone’s, which is based in South Philadelphia and has been one of the most highly regarded bakers of Italian bread and rolls in the Philly region for years. And what a phenomenal roll it was; certainly up there with the best I’ve had. Its flavor was so incredibly pure; like you’d imagine the perfect Italian roll would taste. The texture was also tremendous. I was well into my second half and still hearing the crunch as I bit into parts of the roll.”
2. Mama’s Meatballs (Pennsauken Twp., NJ)
What I wrote: “… the seeded roll was the highlight of this sandwich. It was tremendous; among the best I’ve had anywhere. Not that the meat, which was chopped a little bigger than average, or the nicely flavored Cooper Sharp cheese, and fried onions were disappointing by any stretch. But they didn’t stand out to the extent the roll did.”
1. Angelo’s Pizzeria (South Philadelphia)
What I wrote: “I have to start by stating that the seeded roll, which they bake in-house at Angelo’s, is the best I’ve ever had as part of a cheesesteak – maybe as part of any kind of sandwich. It had a sturdy and slightly crunchy crust that was just the way I’d draw it up. The inner dough was lighter – with more air pockets – than is typically the case, while the toasted sesame seeds were extremely flavorful. And it was a flavor that added nicely to the steak’s overall package.”
*The rolls at Angelo’s Pizzeria, Mama’s Meatballs, and Silvio’s Deli are all baked on the premises.
A few other outstanding rolls that fell just short of making the list are: The seeded ones at Guido’s Steaks of Bensalem, PA; the seeded rolls from Leonardo’s Italian Bakery, which are used for the steaks next door at Da Vinci’s Brick Oven Pizzeria in Feasterville, PA; the seedless rolls at Steve’s Prince of Steaks in Northeast Philly; and the seeded rolls from Carangi Baking Co. of South Philadelphia, which are used at John’s Roast Pork, Delco Steaks, and Jaxx Steaks, among other local shops and restaurants.
As I explained in a couple posts, the seeded rolls from Liscio’s Baking Co. vary by shop. They must give their customers options for varying degrees of softness or crustiness and let them choose what they want. Some of them are considerably softer than I prefer, but the Liscio’s seeded rolls at Avenue Steaks of South Philadelphia, Joey’s Pizza of Thorndale, PA, and Carmen’s Steaks & Hoagies in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market are all outstanding.
While I prefer sturdier rolls to soft ones, there were a few standouts that fell on the softer side of the spectrum. They all had an ultra-fresh texture and an enjoyable chew. The three that come to mind are the rolls I had at Brynn Bradley, Stoli’s Steaks, and Chubby’s Steaks.
It’s extremely common in the Philadelphia region for restaurants and takeout shops to serve both cheesesteaks and pizza, giving me the opportunity to sample a handful of very good pizza pies while I was out eating steaks. Tomorrow’s list will feature the five best from among that group.
The back story of how I got started on this process – along with a list of links for all of the steaks I wrote about – can be found here.