Take a bite out of Philly

By Jen Smith
January 31, 2002

Justine DiFilippo

Cheesesteaks, Tastycakes, soft pretzels, hoagies. These foods are all landmark qualities of one place and one place only, Philadelphia. Philadelphian’s know their foods, and what better selections than some of our Philadelphia favorites? Although you may have partaken of some of these Philly traditions for as long as you can remember, you may not know where and when they originated.

There are few issues that cause a greater heated debate than Philadelphia cheese-steaks and where we like to get them. When polled, a random sampling of nine out of ten Cabrini students gave a roaring arm-raised cheer for Pat’s steaks, and the other one was ready to fight them all, claiming “Geno’s is way better.” The tenth person wished to remain nameless. But what do the crews at each cheese-steak hot spot feel about their competition?

“Oh we don’t have competition,” said Roberta, a proud Geno’s employee, loudly and with exuding confidence. “We’re the best.”

“Yeah!” echoed a chorus of other Geno’s employees behind her. Clapping ensued. They are proud of their business, and with good cause. For the past 35 years, Geno’s steaks have been feeding native Philadelphians and celebrities alike. “We’ve had Michael Jordan, President Clinton,” said Roberta, rattling off some of the many famous Geno’s fans. They never seem to be short on the celebrity element.

And then there’s Pat’s. According to Pat’s employees Eugene Lewis and Rob Cristinziani Pat’s is different than any of their competition. “Rob makes a great steak,” said Lewis. “Our bread is different from everybody else’s, and we use rib-eye meat.” When it comes to the cheese-steak popularity contest, the crew at Pat’s feels there is none. “Our popularity makes Pat’s better than Geno’s.”

After cheese-steaks, other favorites you might recognize are soft pretzels, Tastycakes, hoagies, and some Yuengling beer to wash it all down. Some feel that when it comes to hoagies, Amoroso’s rolls are the secret to their quality. Others could squabble all day over which is the best type of Tastycake.

Philadelphia has some of the oldest and most popular food traditions in the country. You won’t find bias here though. “We have the best food in the country,” said Liberati as she waited patiently for her daily Pretzel fix.

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Jen Smith

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