The Great Cheese Steak Debate 2011

A friend of mine recently engaged his Facebook friends in a classic debate for our area; Who makes the best Philly Cheese Steak? Growing up near Philly, it’s in our blood to have an opinion on the matter and even more importantly, trained at a young age to dig your heals in and be unwilling to change your mind.

Chris and Sean decided that they should take one for the team and officially taste test the popular locations to choose, once and for all who’s got the best cheese steak.

I am going to be posting their results weekly, so check back and chime in!

*The following text is not Kita from Pass the Sushi, but rather Chris – a friend who is hosting The Great Cheese Steak Debate*

THE GREAT CHEESE STEAK DEBATE AKA OPERATION OCCUPY CHEESE STEAK

A few weeks ago Sean and I went to Philadelphia for a cheese steak. While the cheese steak we had was wonderful, we both though out loud to each other that although this was a very good cheese steak, we believe that we could get just as good if not a better cheese steak in Delaware. The great cheese steak debate was born that afternoon on the ride home. A few days later we sat down (and with some help from our Facebook friends) were able to build a cheese steak bracket similar to what is used for the NCAA March Madness. The bracket was broken down into 2 divisions, Philly and Delaware. From there we broke the Division into 2 brackets, Powerhouse and Independent. Most of the franchise or well known restaurants went into the powerhouse bracket. The lesser known and more independent shops went into the independent bracket.

Now a challenge wouldn’t be a challenge without a set of rules. Sean and I came up with a few and they are as follow;

  • When giving a choose at ordering we will stick with either “Wiz wit”or “American Wit” (no other condiments)
  • We will only consume water during the eating process
  • We must visit the head to head competing shops during the same visit.
  • When at all possible we will eat at the original shop of a franchise restaurant
  • NO TAKE OUT- we must eat at the shop
  • We can not be drunk while participating in the challenge

CASAPULLA’S ELSMERE: 514 Junction St. Wilmington, DE 19805

The original Casapulla’s in Elsmere was hyped up by a few of my friends on Facebook. Needless to say this being our first stop on the road to cheese steak greatness, my enthusiasm and energy level was very high. Now this is the first time that I have been to the original Casapulla’s location. When we walked into the store we noticed that it also doubled as a small convenience store. We milled around the front desk for a little bit behind a person that we assumed was in a line to order. We were wrong. As it turns out they have a number system with a red dispenser hidden to the right of the cash register. We took a number and waited for our turn. When it was our turn I ordered a 12” cheese steak with onions, I did not preference what type of cheese. We waited about ten minutes for our sandwich which was made to order. No chopping of steak here, the steak cooks flat on the griddle then it gets its covering of cheese and onions. After we paid we headed outside to the picnic benches to enjoy our bounty. Upon unwrapping the cheese steak I was struck with how nice the roll was.

I opened the sandwich up to look at the inside and noticed that most of the cheese, steak and onions were all on one side of the sandwich. Something I’m definitely not use to.

When I bit into the sandwich I got a blast of provolone cheese (not my personal favorite for a cheese steak), caramelized onions and a dry flat tasting steak. I was NOT impressed; in fact I was kind of disappointed. The steak was not very flavorful and lacked any dynamic which makes for a wonderful cheese steak. After we finished the cheese steak Sean and I looked at each other and almost in unison said “if all of the cheese steaks taste like this, we’re in for a long journey”. For our luck they didn’t……

CAPRIOTTI’S UNION STREET: 510 N. Union St. Wilmington, DE 19805

The name Capriotti’s is synonymous with Delaware. If you ask 10 Delawareans were to get a good sub or cheese steak, 9 of them are going to tell you Capriotti’s. Are those 9 people right, can Capriotti’s be that good? Sean and I went to the original Capriotti’s on Union St right after we left Casapulla’s in Elsmere. When you walk in you are greeted by a huge counter directly to your left and an opening (waiting room) on the right. We were asked almost immediately what we would like. We ordered a 12” cheese steak with onions. Again about a ten minute wait due to the fact that our sandwich was made to order. Here they do the traditional cheese steak chop and then incorporate the onions and American cheese with the steak as it cooks on the griddle. The onions get mixed in with the steak and the cheese melts all over even into the smallest crevasses of the steak.

We get our steak and head outside to eat (actually on the trunk of a car). Upon unwrapping the sandwich I noticed that the roll was not as “pretty” as the roll at Cassapulla’s. But looks are only skin…I mean bread deep, correct?

When I open up the sandwich to get a closer look at the insides I notice the cheese, steak and onions were all melted together in one beautiful (hold on while I wipe away some tears) masterpiece of a sandwich.

When I take a bit I notice that the roll is soft but chewy and the steak, cheese, and onions are a melting pot of flavors to my taste buds. I loved it and was excited that our second stop of the day, our second shop in the bracket challenge was a huge success. This cheese steak train is back on its tracks, Choo Choo!!

~Chris and Sean

The verdict? Capriotti’s wins this round.



Comments

  1. Andy says

    This is a great debate! BTW, I’ve never seen a Casapulla’s steak not chopped! I’m partial to Casapulla’s but Cap’s is good as well. I doubt a DE steak will beat a PA steak. Can’t wait for Geno’s vs. Pat’s!

  2. says

    Oh man, I am SO excited for this series. I went to college right outside of Philly and distinguished myself as being a Jim’s girl (rather than either Pat’s or Geno’s). I can’t wait to see the verdicts on the cheesesteaks ahead!!

  3. says

    Ok I might make some people angry with this but Jim’s is the best cheese steak in philly! I lived 30 min from Philly until college, then moved to Philly to attend college at Drexel and I have to say that Pat’s & Geno’s are terribly chewy and fatty, it’s just the nostalgia that draws people in and their cheese fries lol. And since you’ve added Delaware in this, New Jersey’s cheesesteaks are just as good as the ones you get in Philly if not better. It’s an area wide competition. :) This debate could go on forever!

  4. stefan talabisco says

    I actually met my wife at casapullas.I meet her by ordering a hot dog there go figure a hot dog at a steak and sub shop.She made the steaks the best and used to leave little notes inside for me.I’m upset you had a bad cheese steak from there.i grew up about a block or two from the original store and still travel to elsmere to get a cheese steak.I always asked for it chopped and have never had a bad meal there.Maybe you should go with a regular.I recently had a brisket sandwich from Tommy Dinics. You should put them in some type of bracket.And the chicks in reading term were smoking.

  5. Chris Sama says

    Thanks everyone for checking out this challenge, I am also very excited to see who will come out on top at the end. On another note, I did have a DiNic’s Roast pork about two weeks ago and I’ll have to admit that if we EVER did a roast pork challenge DiNic’s would be very hard to beat. In my opinion it’s they way they cut the Sharp provolone in chunks instead of shredding or slicing it that sets it apart!!

  6. says

    this is awesome. We always go to Geno’s when visiting our friend because that is her family choice. I need to try Pat’s one day when we are visiting to really compare

  7. says

    Would you believe, I’ve never tasted a PCS but I saw what looked like a really lovely version on FoodNetwork UK. Some English bloke with a burger van made a version that was chopped, then steamed with the cheese on top, then the bun was added and steamed for about 30 seconds, heating it through. Looked incredible – closer to the Capriotti’s version. Looking forward to the next round of this debate.

  8. says

    That’s awesome! Being from WA state, I can’t say I have ever had a “true” Philly, but there is a place up the road called Ricky J’s that I am told makes a really good one…

    Now I’m hungry.

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