After Posting one of my all-time raves about the cheesesteak I had from Angelo’s Pizzeria in South Philadelphia last summer – then again after ranking them number one on my top ten list – I received mostly positive feedback from people who agreed with my lofty view of them. But there were also a few dissenters who described lackluster steaks that sounded a far cry from what I had eaten. So I wondered if they have a consistency issue and returned there Friday to see if they could match the peerless steak I had in August of 2022.
My excitement over getting such a good parking spot Tuesday when I drove into South Philly to check out the steak at Delores’ turned to frustration when I got caught in traffic while making my way to Angelo’s after exiting I-95. I wound up parking a few blocks away and arriving to place my order about 20 minutes later than planned. The cost of my tardiness was probably an extra half hour of wait time. Unlike last year’s visit, when I was one of the first to arrive and received my food quickly, there was already a pretty good-sized crowd of people who had ordered and were waiting for their food outside.
On the bright side, there was no line to speak of to place my order of a cheesesteak with Cooper Sharp cheese and fried onions and a turkey and Cooper Sharp hoagie to take home to my wife.
I knew it would be a while until I had my food in hand, so I strolled south down 9th Street and photographed Sarcone’s Bakery and the main drag of the Italian Market. I’ve written a lot about Sarcone’s lately. They are on the same block as Angelo’s and next to Ralph’s, which is the oldest Italian restaurant in the United States that has been owned by the same family since opening.
It took roughly 45 minutes for my name to be called out. Once my order was paid for, I hurried back to my car to drive to a South Philly parking lot I’ve used a few times for steak-eating purposes. But before pulling out of my spot, I unwrapped the steak to let the air hit the roll. It had already been wrapped for 10-15 minutes.
There has been an ongoing debate lately within one of the Facebook cheesesteak groups about whether leaving a steak wrapped for at least 10 minutes before eating it is a good thing. Some people say it helps the flavors of the various ingredients to blend better. While that may be the case, I view the steaming effect that wrapping has on the roll as being an overriding factor. So I wasn’t thrilled that I had to wait as long as I did to unwrap my steak. The house-baked roll was clearly softer than the one I had last year after the more extended steaming it took.
Nonetheless, when I arrived at my destination – one of the parking lots across from John’s Roast Pork – it was impossible not to be impressed with how both the roll and the entire sandwich looked.
And it tasted better than it looked.
While the roll had lost some of the crustiness I recall from last year due to being wrapped, it still had a great chew and was simply the best-tasting steak roll I’ve ever eaten. The flavor reminded me of some of the bread I’ve had at top-flight fine dining establishments over the years. And in spite of the steaming it went through, it was more than sturdy enough to stand up to the extremely moist meat and a lot of gooey Cooper Sharp.
With some steaks, that much cheese may have been a bit more than I prefer. But Angelo’s chopped ribeye is so good in terms of flavor, juiciness and texture that the amount of cheese felt just right. It didn’t come close to overwhelming the meat, but it complimented it beautifully and was perfectly blended throughout.
The nearly caramelized onions also added nicely to the steak’s overall flavor. I had seen some online photos of Angelo’s steaks in recent months in which they were thrown on top of the meat and cheese instead of blended in. Thankfully that wasn’t the case with my steak. They were beautifully fried and mixed in with the meat and cheese all the way through the sandwich.
Even with the roll issue, this was without a doubt one of the two best cheesesteaks I’ve ever eaten, with the other being the first one I had from Angelo’s.
It’s going to take an otherworldly effort to knock them off their perch when I put out another best-of list later this year.
On the issue of consistency, I would think it’s impossible for a place that churns out as many steaks as Angelo’s does to get it right every time. If I were to make several more visits, there is a pretty good chance I’d get a sub-par steak somewhere along the line. But I have to judge based on what I eat and they have achieved greatness both times I ate one of their steaks.
I also managed to snap a few photos of my wife’s turkey and Cooper Sharp hoagie before she dug into it. In addition to being famous for both cheesesteaks and pizza, Angelo’s hoagies are known to be among the best in Philly – I’m sure in part because they come on those same great rolls.
My wife was extremely impressed – both by the roll and what was in it. She said the seasonings and oil mixed very well with the other ingredients.
I went to Angelo’s Friday in part because I wanted to go “out” on a high note. I will likely have to skip what will hopefully only be a couple posts while on a light diet for the routine medical procedure that didn’t take place as planned the last time I took time off from posting.
If I can come up with something to write about that doesn’t require me to eat a heavy meal first, I may be back with a post Wednesday. Otherwise, I’ll likely return next week.
2 thoughts on “Can Number One Remain on Its Lofty Perch”
“I will likely have to skip what will hopefully only be a couple posts while on a light diet”
Or you could review a few sprouts-and-tofu joints… ;^)
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