Young and Hungry

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.

  • Richard

    Yuck! That looks absolutely disgusting! One might as well inject fat directly into one's arteries thereby "bypassing" this mess.

  • Arthur Delaney

    I had a chicken cheesesteak the other day and wondered, Why isn't this called a cheesechicken?

  • The Truth

    I dunno. I think it looks yummy!

  • Kokos Kong

    Tim, I've seen you refer to Amorosos a number of times in your writing. As a former resident of the City of Brotherly Love and an afficiando of it's signature sandwich I have to beg you to quit perpetuating the myth of the Amorosos roll. No self respecting purveyor of the cheesesteak would serve on an Amorosos roll. It's the Wonderbread of sub rolls, found in the supermarkets and second rate pizza joints of Philadelphia. Non of the great cheesesteak spots use it, which is part of what makes them great. Ask around, it's true.

  • Tim Carman

    Kokos Kong,

    Thanks for the e-mail. I hear what you're saying but it's not completely accurate. Pat's uses rolls from the Adversa bakery. Geno's rolls are top secret but they don't use Amoroso. But Jim's Steaks does use Amoroso. There are some in Philly that still swear by Amoroso. It may not be everyone, but the rolls do have their loyalists.


  • dan riley

    Sarcones Bakery used to be a heavy hitter back in the day as well.

  • J

    It does look kinda gross but i saw a long line the other day so they must be doing something right. I wish they would create a cheesesteak for lactose intolerant folks, that would be awesome.

  • Jamie

    I own one of the cheesesteak places that the author really likes, I can tell you that Amoroso does not deliver rolls daily down to the DC area. They are flash frozen at their plant in Jersey and then shipped down to local suppliers. JJ's uses Sysco as do we. I met with the president of Amoroso before we opened to beg him to come down with fresh rolls daily but they wouldn't. The flash frozen rolls are pretty spot on though if they are properly cared for.

  • Tim Carman

    Jamie, that was my understanding too of the Amoroso distribution system. I even mentioned the flash-frozen approach to the owner at JJ's; he INSISTED, however, that his were fresh.

  • Jamie

    I've been meaning to get down to JJ's to check out our competition. I've heard mixed reviews. The one thing I'm interested in seeing is if they actually use real Kraft Cheez Whiz, and not an imitation cheese sauce. We pay so much for our Kraft Whiz and it really makes so much difference. Thanks again for the shout out in the article. I really enjoyed the cheesesteak article a month or so ago. We had it posted in our window for awhile.

  • Anthony

    This is one of the worst excuses for a cheesesteak I have eaten in awhile Philly Cheesesteak was at the very least passable. I ordered a Ben Franklin cheesesteak last night before going to the Chi Cha Lounge. The steak had no flavor at all, the lack of proper season made the sandwich taste as if I ordered from a McDonald's drive thru. The bread was also wrong I think the owners need to take a drive 90 miles north to learn the correct way to make a cheesesteak. Save your money. Also Pats and Geno's are for tourist just like Phillp's crab cakes are made with crab from Thailand and South Carolina.