I’ve been watching a lot of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern lately (not to be confused with George Zimmerman, Brian). This week I saw one where he traveled to the exotic land of Philadelphia. He tried some old cheeses, scrapple (trust me, it’s not as cute as it sounds), and the coveted cheesesteak. He went to a place called John’s Roast Pork and watching him devour that sandwich, heaping mounds of meat and cheese being stuffed into his fat, disgusting face really made me crave one for myself. I have been lucky enough to have a cheesesteak from Pennsylvania in the past; though it was years ago, I still remember the flavors. Salty meat, rich cheese, soft bread. A warm feeling of happiness blanketing my core with each bite. Or maybe that was the feeling of fat trickling through my ventricles. Regardless, it was extraordinary, good enough to stay with me all these years later. That being said, I was well overdue for a cheesesteak and decided now was the prime time to satisfy that craving.
WEEK TWO: GAGLIONE BROTHERS
I’ve driven by the Gaglione brothers a few times in the past, and it always seemed like a chain to me. Maybe it’s the shopping center where it is located (a little strip mall on Mission Gorge), maybe it’s the font they chose for the sign. Either way, when searching for a good cheesesteak on Yelp it received some pretty rave reviews. Those reviews, and the fact that their mission statement is to ” serve delicious, fulfilling cheesesteaks and subs,” won me over. Anyone who describes food as fulfilling understands who I am on a spiritual level and deserves my business. As it turns out the Gaglione brothers are California natives who have lived in San Diego for years. They have only two sandwich shops: the flagship location in Point Loma and the one on Mission Gorge. I went to the latter as it’s closer to home. Inside, it had a slightly industrial vibe–think brushed steel and brick–but with a homey touch of framed photos of the brothers on the wall.
They had a few variations, but I decided to go with a 12-inch traditional cheesesteak with onions and a side of garlic fries.
Okay, now by this point you should be able to tell that something is wrong. You see that? There, on both ends of the sandwich?
That’s bread. You should not be able to see that bread. Bread should only be visible on the outside of the sandwich. It should play the same roll as a sausage casing–to hold in the meat. I would have liked to believe this a fluke, but sadly my brother got the same sandwich and had the same disappointment–they were both completely under-filled.
“Um, Gina? It’s probably healthier this way. Do you really need that much more meat?”, you might be thinking. And to you I say YES, YES I DO. I have abnormally low levels of B-12, but THANKS for judging me. Also, one does not order a philly cheesesteak with health in mind. I understand I am about to do something really terrible to my body when I decide to eat it–I consent to cutting a few months off of my life with the first bite. But enough about me–let’s get back to the sandwich.
Now I admit that I am prone to hyperbole, but I am being 100% honest when I say the cheesesteak I had in Pennsylvania had at least three times the amount of meat. To be fair, the meat at Gaglione was well seasoned. The bread was crusty yet soft. It tasted pretty good, there was just not nearly enough of it. I also had a problem with the onions–they were overcooked and almost melted into the rest of the sandwich. I was expected a heap of stringy, caramelized goodness and got more of a sprinkling of blandness.
One cool thing about Gaglione’s is their pepper bar. They have eight or so different kinds of peppers for you to top your sandwich with, from jalapenos to banana peppers to–my personal favorite–peperoncinis. I loaded these onto my sandwich but they somehow kept getting lost in the flavor. In the end, I piled on about half a cup and only then did they really announce their presence.
As for the fries, they were pretty good. I love garlic and I love fries, but sometimes the mixing of them together can be overwhelming. These had a good balance of garlic to fry, and the garlic was cooked up a little before, making it lose that acidic bite raw garlic leaves behind. They were a nice, heart-clogging side to this sandwich.
RECAP FOR THE IMPATIENT:
Price: $10.29 for a 12 inch
Menu: A handful of different cheesesteaks and some classic deli subs too.
Ambiance: The childhood pictures added a personal touch to an otherwise standard decor.
Sides: Garlic fries were pretty remarkable.
Second Trip Worthy? Perhaps to try a different sandwich. I would like to see if the original Point Loma location had the same meager serving size.
Overall rating: 6 out of 10 sandwiches