I’m fortunate to live close enough to a pair of places that are purveyors of top-flight cheesesteaks to always be able to get a good one on short notice when the craving strikes. While neither quite made my Top 10 list, they both put out a consistently stellar product. One is Johnny Paisano’s of Springfield, PA, which I’ve written about several times. The other is Cocco’s Pizza in Primos.
Cocco’s probably doesn’t qualify as a neighborhood pizzeria because it’s part of a small chain. There are a half-dozen locations, all in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The original, which opened in 1978, still sits in Norwood. But their Primos spot is now the company’s headquarters. In addition to having a dining room and doing a thriving takeout and delivery business, the “complex” includes a catering facility, ice cream parlor and laundry.
Cocco’s is probably best known for their above average pizza, which is offered in several styles. But their steaks received a high rating from Philadelphia Cheesesteak Adventure and I praised them as part of a multi-review post back in September of last year (I obviously blew it when I wrote the headline for that one). That was one of my first posts on the sandwich that would become a year-long obsession for me. After having another in a series of great steaks from them Wednesday for lunch, I decided they deserve a stand-alone write-up.
The restaurant sits on a less-than-scenic commercial stretch next to a few other businesses and across from a shopping center. I’ve always loved their neon “Get in here!!” sign above the front door.
Customers enter into a small area where they can place or pick up an order or continue through to the dining room for table service.
I had called in my takeout order of a cheesesteak with American cheese and fried onions, but arrived early and snapped photos while waiting for it.
In addition to living within a fairly short ride from Cocco’s, their steaks stand up unusually well to being wrapped in foil primarily because of their unique rolls, which I’ll discuss shortly. So I was able to violate my rule of eating cheesesteaks on location whenever possible with a clear conscience and took it home to eat.
Cocco’s cheesesteaks are available in three sizes, including a mini version and one that is enough for two people. I went with the standard size, which includes 10 ounces of meat. That’s in my ideal range of 10-12 ounces.
About the only bad thing I can say about this steak is that it won’t win any beauty contests.
Cocco’s – at least at the Primos spot – is one of relatively few places that seems to consistently season their beef just about perfectly. I don’t know if they use anything other than salt and pepper, but I always love the flavor. It’s also extremely juicy and tender.
It’s tough to see the American cheese in the photos, but trust me; I felt it mixed in with the chopped beef in every bite. It complimented the meat without overshadowing it. This was a very well proportioned sandwich. Having said that, if you love a ton of cheese on your steaks, they give the option of ordering extra.
The onions were also nicely fried and mixed in with the meat and cheese.
Cocco’s bakes their own rolls, and they are not very similar to any other that I’ve had since I started writing about cheesesteaks. The crust – in fact the entire roll – is unusually pliable while also having a chewy quality that I find extremely appealing. The soft dough is pushed down against the crust into an increasingly thin layer with each bite so that there is really no need to request that the roll be hollowed out – or gutted – although they provide that option.
There is also a circular pattern on the bottom of each roll that is fun to look at.
The overall flavor and texture of this steak were sensational. I feel fortunate to have easy and fast access to one whenever the mood strikes.
While the original Norwood and Primos spots are likely still owned by the original family, some or all of the other Cocco’s locations may be franchises. I’m not sure of their business setup. But I did have a steak from one of the other locations within the past year and while the roll was the same, there were other aspects of the sandwich that were different. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the ones I’ve had from Primos.
I am due to have another steak at Johnny Paisano’s, which is also a short ride away. They made the Final Four of this year’s Cheesesteak Adventure March Madness tournament. I’ve always liked their steaks, but perhaps not quite that much. We’ll see if that changes. Given that I can’t think of anything negative to point out about Wednesday’s sandwich, I may need to take a fresh look at Cocco’s of Primos when I eventually revisit my Top 10 Cheesesteaks list. It seemed at least worthy of an honorable mention.
4 thoughts on “Another Great Under the Radar Cheesesteak”
Another great write-up.
Are you working on a 2023 Top 10 list?
Thank you. I doubt I’ll do a list that is comprised solely of steaks I eat in 2023. It’s more likely that I’ll update the list some time in the summer or fall if I have any changes to make from the original.