Meet the New Cheesesteak in Town
This summer, back when no one worried about cops pulling guns at snowball fights, I combed the metro area looking for genuine Philly cheesesteaks as part of Y&H's occasional series, Stealing Home. It's too bad JJ's Cheesesteaks wasn't around then.
I don't know if JJ's would have supplanted South Street Steaks or Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory as my favorites, but the newbie at the corner of 14th and U streets (in the former 14U coffee shop) serves up a very decent steak sandwich, even though the owners aren't from Philly.
JJ's peddles a number of other sandwiches, in an attempt to cater to folks who'd prefer not to have angioplasty surgery after lunch, but its specialty is the cheesesteak. The place borrows from the Pat's King of Steaks' model: The cooks here griddle and chop up lean rib-eye, mix the meat with sauteed onions, and scoop that mixture into a fresh Amoroso roll. You can top the sandwich with your choice of American, provolone, or Whiz.
I should warn you, though, that the American is the orange variety, not the more traditional white version.
As usual, I ordered my cheesesteak with Whiz. The ribeye was well-seasoned and not chopped too finely. The onions co-mingled with the meat, as smoothly as an after-hours office mixer, while the roll was so fresh you would have thought the Amoroso bakery was next door, not 120 miles to the north. One of the owners told me that JJ's gets its rolls fresh daily from Amoroso, and I believe him.
The only drawback for me was the application of the Whiz. It was squirted over the top of the meat and onions, like they do with ballpark nachos. I prefer my Whiz applied to the bottom of the roll, so that it oozes and envelopes the meat. JJ's approach left too many bites with no Whiz. No fun.