Cheesesteaks are native to Philadelphia, but you can find cheesesteaks almost anywhere that will claim to be “Philly cheesesteaks”. While it’s always best to get your cheesesteak from a local favorite such as Geno’s Steaks, being able to spot an inauthentic Philly cheesesteak from a mile away will definitely help you and your friends avoid subpar sandwiches that can truly ruin your day. In this article, Geno’s Steaks goes over some of the key ways to differentiate an authentic cheesesteak from an inauthentic “cheesesteak mistake”.
The Choice of Meat
A good way to distinguish an authentic Philly cheesesteak from an imposter is the choice of meat used. While cheesesteak enthusiasts may regularly debate on their favorite spots, we are all in agreement that the ribeye steak is the one true king and a sign of an authentic cheesesteak. Sliced ribeye steak has the perfect amount of fat, which equates to flavor when cooking and makes for the truly delicious sandwich that Geno’s Steaks is known for. Ribeye is known to be incredibly tender, and that alone can make it very easy to tell when a sandwich is made using a different type of cut.
Those of us with good memories still remember when John Kerry was teased for requesting “a cheesesteak with swiss” while campaigning in Philly for the 2004 election. This gaffe highlights how the cheese is one of the make or break factors of an authentic Philly cheesesteak. Geno’s Steaks uses whiz, provolone, and American for its cheesesteaks, and a good way to tell an imposter sandwich is the addition of a cheese beyond those three choices. Some culinary experimentalists will argue that different cheeses can offer a worthwhile experience for the flavor that they impart or their meltability, but true Philadelphians will call it like it is- a steak sandwich.
Geno’s Steaks and other authentic Philly cheesesteak spots offer fried onions for their cheesesteaks, noting the sweet flavor that they impart on the sandwich. Fried onions are seen the only acceptable topping, and an easy way to tell an imposter sandwich is the addition of unapproved fixings. For example, a quick internet search can reveal recipes that include toppings such as mushrooms, peppers and, in dire situations, even pickles. These fixings can be great on a long list of sandwiches, but authentic Philly cheesesteaks are rooted in tradition and these additions are much more in line with steak sandwiches than cheesesteaks. While the authentic Philly cheesesteak is a staple for us at Geno’s, we also have options to try to cater to all and carry mushrooms and peppers upon request.
An often-overlooked component of any good sandwich, the bread is one of the most important parts. Geno’s acknowledges that any authentic cheesesteak will be housed by an Italian roll that is soft on the inside and has a soft crust on top. Geno’s Steaks has their own bake that is a certain color, size, and crispiness but it is likely that another sandwich spot will not have the same exact specifications for their product. Regardless, the quality of the bread is extremely important for the authentic cheesesteak experience, and if a place does not have bread that is up to standard it is likely the cheesesteak will be a letdown as well.