Day 29: Phil’s Steaks, NY’s First Authentic Philly Cheesesteak Truck Jawn.
I’d missed these guys earlier in Union Square, and with less than two days to go, I couldn’t risk not squeezing them into my challenge. Started by husband and wife duo Kevin and Mia, along with JJ and Philly-native Jim, Phil’s Steaks claims the throne as New York’s first authentic Philly Cheesesteak truck “Jawn“. What’s a Jawn you might ask? It’s simply a Philly word that means “thing”, so it’s quite versatile, much like how dinges might be used in the same fashion. The authenticity with which their cheesesteaks are made comes not only from Philly-native Jim, but from their Amoroso hearth-baked rolls straight from Philly. What makes a hearth-baked roll so good? It starts with the absence of bread pans, which allows each roll to blossom into their own unique shape and size. It also gives the bread a hearty crunchy shell and fluffy soft interior. The texture here was wonderful, so I see why most of Philly’s hoagies and cheesesteaks use Amoroso rolls.
I asked Kevin at the window for my usual (you decide!) and was graced with two half sammies (which were humongous), original wit Whiz, and a Provolone with mushrooms and onions. I sampled the wit Whiz first. I’m an unfan of Whiz, but I actually liked it here. The cheese was melted atop the meat, and slathered over the bread like butter, and it actually protected the bread from the fatty meat, making it less susceptible to getting soggy. The slices of steak were thin, and had my favorite pieces of crispy browned edges that contain a concentration of all that delicious flavor. The onions were sweet, but clearly played a mere supporting role, which allowed the natural flavors of the beef to shine. The Whiz also tasted more like real cheese (not sure why since Whiz is Whiz everywhere!).
The provolone and mushrooms were delicious and I managed a hefty bite before asking Kevin to lace it with peppers. I’m a sucker for spicy, so I wanted to see what it would do here. The heat was definitely nice, and it enhanced the sweetness of the onions and earthiness of the mushrooms. The provolone was super gooey and as crazy as it sounds, I found the pieces of beef here more tender and moist than wit Whiz. But as yummy as this was, I actually preferred the wit Whiz from Phil’s. It was super cheesy, meaty, and so messy to eat that I asked for a fork. No, yours truly wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty, on the contrary, but with every few bites, pieces of gooey steak kept falling out of my sandwich, so a fork ensured that only my mouth caught all of the deliciousness. Besides two awesome sammies, Kevin and Mia were down to earth and super friendly (as were their crew), which I still say is key to a better overall lunch experience. Thanks Phil’s Steaks for bringing authentic Philly cheesesteaks to the streets of NYC!