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Food: Dalessandro’s Cheesesteak (Philadelphia)

November 28, 2011

I’m in Philadelphia this week, and when it came time for me to try my first cheesesteak, my friend (after experience) and I (after research) agreed the place to go was Dalessandro’s. It is the right choice to make, without question. I cannot imagine a finer cheesesteak.

This sandwich, like all great ones, is all about the sum of its parts. Rather than outshining the unity of the collective, the beef is decimated on the flat-top, becoming a soft, thick layer for toppings to rest on. The provolone is gooier than you can imagine, and it binds the meat together into  smokey, fatty perfection. You won’t find gobs of cheese, but an expertly blended whole.

A feature of Delessandro’s that goes slightly against the traditional cheesesteak is the red sauce. The thin layer on top is just enough of the spicy/sweet stuff. It definitely added another dimension. As for toppings, the grilled onions and peppers were nice, but it was the array of pickled peppers on the counter that stole the show, that elevated this sandwich beyond what it is. The pepper relish (seen here sans-sauce) was hot and tangy, but the black smoked and dried peppers (on the end) were my absolute favorite. The complex, dry, spicy chocolate edge they contributed to the bright tomato sauce and cheesy beef was truly something to travel for.

As Philadelphia and Pittsburgh tend to take their bread seriously, this bun was ideal for the glorious mess it contained. And of course I would be remiss to neglect mentioning the special they offer: a cheesesteak and a Stella for $7.99

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