A cheesesteak sandwich
Alternative names Philadelphia cheesesteak, Philly cheesesteak
Course Main course
Place of origin United States
Region or state Philadelphia
Creator Pat & Harry Olivieri
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients Sliced steak, cheese, bread
Variations Multiple
Food energy
(per serving)
759 kcal (3178 kJ)
Cookbook: Cheesesteak  Media: Cheesesteak

A cheesesteak, also known as a Philadelphia cheesesteak, Philly cheesesteak, cheesesteak sandwich, cheese steak, or steak and cheese, is a sandwich made from thinly sliced pieces of beefsteak and melted cheese in a long hoagie roll.[1][2] A popular regional fast food, it has its roots in Philadelphia,[3] Pennsylvania, United States.


The cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century "by combining frizzled beef, onions, and cheese in a small loaf of bread", according to a 1987 exhibition catalog published by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.[4]

Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930s.[5][6][7] The exact story behind its creation is debated, but in some accounts, Pat and Harry Olivieri originally owned a hot dog stand, and on one occasion, decided to make a new sandwich using chopped beef and grilled onions. While Pat was eating the sandwich, a cab driver stopped by and was interested in it, so he requested one for himself. After eating it, the cab driver suggested that Olivieri quit making hot dogs and instead focus on the new sandwich.[6][8] They began selling this variation of steak sandwiches at their hot dog stand near South Philadelphia's Italian Market. They became so popular that Pat opened up his own restaurant which still operates today as Pat's King of Steaks.[9] The sandwich was originally prepared without cheese; Olivieri said provolone cheese was first added by Joe "Cocky Joe" Lorenza, a manager at the Ridge Avenue location."[10]

Cheesesteaks have become popular at restaurants and food carts throughout the city with many locations being independently owned, family-run businesses.[11][12] Variations of cheesesteaks are now common in several fast food chains.[13] Versions of the sandwich can also be found at high-end restaurants.[14] Many establishments outside of Philadelphia refer to the sandwich as a "Philly cheesesteak."[8]



The meat traditionally used is thinly sliced rib-eye or top round, although other cuts of beef are also used.[15] On a lightly oiled griddle at medium temperature, the steak slices are quickly browned and then scrambled into smaller pieces with a flat spatula. Slices of cheese are then placed over the meat, letting it melt, and then the roll is placed on top of the cheese. The mixture is then scooped up with a spatula and pressed into the roll, which is then cut in half.[16]

Common additions include sautéed onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, mayonnaise, hot sauce, salt, pepper.


In Philadelphia, most cheesesteak places use Amoroso or Vilotti-Pisanelli rolls; these rolls are long, soft, and slightly salted.[17] One source writes that "a proper cheesesteak consists of provolone or Cheez Whiz slathered on an Amoroso roll and stuffed with thinly shaved grilled meat,"[18] while a reader's letter to an Indianapolis magazine, lamenting the unavailability of good cheesesteaks, wrote that "the mention of the Amoroso roll brought tears to my eyes."[19] After commenting on the debates over types of cheese and "chopped steak or sliced," Risk and Insurance magazine declared "The only thing nearly everybody can agree on is that it all has to be piled onto a fresh, locally baked Amoroso roll."[20]


A cheesesteak with lots of cheese sauce

American cheese, Cheez Whiz, and provolone are the most commonly used cheeses or cheese products put on to the Philly cheesesteak.[21]

White American cheese along with provolone cheese are the favorites due to the mild flavor and medium consistency of American cheese. Some establishments melt the American cheese to achieve the creamy consistency, while others place slices over the meat, letting them melt slightly under the heat. Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan says "Provolone is for aficionados, extra-sharp for the most discriminating among them." Geno's owner, Joey Vento, said, "We always recommend the provolone. That's the real cheese."[21]

Cheez Whiz, first marketed in 1952, was not yet available for the original 1930 version, but has spread in popularity.[22] A 1986 New York Times article called Cheez Whiz "the sine qua non of cheesesteak connoisseurs."[23] In a 1985 interview, Pat Olivieri's nephew Frank Olivieri said that he uses "the processed cheese spread familiar to millions of parents who prize speed and ease in fixing the children's lunch for the same reason, because it is fast."[24] Cheez Whiz is "overwhelmingly the favorite" at Pat's, outselling runner-up American by a ratio of eight or ten to one, while Geno's claims to go through eight to ten cases of Cheez Whiz a day.[21]


See also


  1. Pham, K.; Shen, P.; Phillips, T. (2014). Food Truck Road Trip--A Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes Collected from the Best Street Food Vendors Coast to Coast. Page Street Publishing. ISBN 978-1-62414-087-7.
  2. Fodor's Travel Publications, I.; Jabado, S.C. (2010). Fodor's 2010 Philadelphia & the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Fodor's Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Fodor's Travel Pub. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-4000-0877-3.
  3. Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (21 November 2008). "Philadelphia – African American Visitor's Guide and its suburbs" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-10.
  4. Hines, Mary Anne; Marshall, Gordon; Weaver, William Woys (1987). The Larder Invaded. The Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. ISBN 0-914076-70-1.
  5. Stuhldreher, Katie. "Rick's Steaks takes Reading Terminal Market dispute to court". Philly Online, LLC. Archived from the original on 24 January 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  6. 1 2 Andrew F. Smith, ed. (2007). The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. p. 451. ISBN 0195307968.
  7. Stuhldreher, Katie (30 July 2007). "Rick's Steaks takes Reading Terminal Market dispute to court". Archived from the original on 24 January 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2007.
  8. 1 2 Ivory, Karen (2011). Philadelphia Icons: 50 Classic Views of the City of Brotherly Love. Globe Pequot. p. 18. ISBN 0762767650.
  9. Epting, Chris (2009). The Birthplace Book: A Guide to Birth Sites of Famous People, Places, & Things. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0811740188.
  10. Fiorillo, Victor (15 December 2008). "The Cheesesteak Cometh". Philadelphia Magazine. Archived from the original on 2010-07-18. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  11. Brookes, Karin; et al. (2005). Zoë Ross, ed. Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings (Second (Updated) ed.). APA Publications. ISBN 1-58573-026-2.
  12. Price, Betsy (10 July 2009). "Tour de cheesesteak". The News Journal. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  13. Hein, Kenneth (22 January 2009). "Domino's, Subway Battle Heats Up". Brandweek. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  14. Horowitz, Rachel (11 April 2004). "Cheesesteak raises eyebrows and drains wallets". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  15. Fischer, John. "How To Make a Philly Cheese Steak". Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  16. How to Make a Philly Cheesesteak. Event occurs at 2:10. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  17. Hodgman, John (May 2002). "Philly Mignon". Men's Journal. Amoroso Baking Company. Archived from the original on 2008-03-25. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
  18. Fekete, Jeffery (2009). Making the Big Game. Mill City Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-935097-32-7.
  19. Powell, Warren (December 2000). "Beef Eaters". Indianapolis Magazine. p. 17. ISSN 0899-0328.
  20. Kerr, Michelle (April 2005). "Hungry for a taste of Philly?". Risk and Insurance. 16 (4). p. 20.
  21. 1 2 3 Mucha, Peter. (23 May 2008). "Whiz on a cheesesteak: Hit or myth?". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  22. Hevesi, Dennis (9 June 2007). "Edwin Traisman, 91, Dies; Helped Create Iconic Foods". New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2008.
  23. "Cheese Steak: An Original". The New York Times. 21 May 1986. p. C6. Retrieved 1 July 2009. (subscription required (help)).
  24. Stevens, William K. (16 November 1985). "About Philadelphia: Where Cheesesteaks are King, One Family Has Assumed the Crown". The New York Times. p. 10. Retrieved 1 July 2009. (subscription required (help)).
  25. "Phillys Famous Cheesesteaks - Clearwater, FL". Phillys Famous Cheesesteaks.
  26. "The Perfect Philly Cheesesteak".
  27. "Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks". Visit Philly.
  28. "Dinner on Deadline: Vegan version of the Philly Cheesesteak". Archived from the original on April 13, 2015.
  29. "2016 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly contest".
  30. "Five Philadelphia restaurants serving great vegan cheesesteaks".
  31. "A guide to vegan cheesesteaks and scrambles in philadelphia".
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