Usually you have to choose. Do you want an original cheesesteak? Or do you want one prepared by a great chef? As delicious as the original rendition is, it doesn’t exactly require a culinary degree to make. And so, when a great chef takes a stab at a cheesesteak, while the result is often delicious in its own right, the experience can differ from the sandwich made famous by former hot dog stand owners in Philadelphia.
Belle chef John Shanesy somehow does both. The cheffy tweaks he makes to one of America’s favorite sandwiches manage to enhance it while also yielding a result faithful to the original. No, he doesn’t use Amoroso rolls. He has access to hoagie rolls baked fresh every day by a world class baker: his brother Scott, with whom he co-owns Belle. As for the cheese sauce, Shanesy makes an upgraded version of “whiz” by combining Tillamook cheddar and American cheese, which he steeps at 180 degrees in Mt Crawford milk and heavy cream with dried chilies and herbs, fresh thyme, black pepper, and salt. For the sandwich, he griddles sliced steak, mushroom duxelles, bell pepper, and white onion, and chops them all together. For assembly, he smears mayo on the top bun and adds iceberg lettuce. On the bottom bun, he adds the steak mixture and cheese sauce. The result is a sandwich that may differ from the original, but still tastes faithful to the style. A classic made even better.
#8: Cheesesteak – Belle
The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches
Others of Note: Steak and Cheese at Taste Shack (GFA), Villy at Ace Biscuit & Barbecue, Beef Cheesesteak at Farmacy, Cheesesteak at Fabio’s, The Whiz at Lucky Blue’s, Philly Steak/Cheese at Tubby’s, Cheesesteak Hoagie at Revolutionary Soup, Philly Cheesesteak at Timberwood Grill. Vegetarian Alternatives: Philly Cheeseshroom at Kitchen(ette), The Godfather with Shrooms at Lucky Blue’s, Vegan Cheesesteak/Vegetarian Cheesesteak at Champion Brewing Company