Leave your dietary hang-ups at the door and forget what modern nutritional science has taught us about processed foods, because you’re at Gaglione Brothers (10450 Friars Road in Grantville; 3944 W. Point Loma Blvd. in Loma Portal), where the most sinfully scrumptious sandwich to order is the Cheez Whiz Steak ($7.59).
I’m not a Philly cheesesteak expert and don’t aspire to become one. Trying to figure out who’s got the best in San Diego makes little sense; it’s not our region’s food, and I’ve not tried the “real deal” in the City of Brotherly Love to have any baseline judgment. Gag’s sandwich was love at first bite, and I’ve remained faithful. If it gets any better, I don’t need to know about it.
I do, however, have one hard fact about the cheesesteak: It came before the Whiz. After some heavy-duty research on Philadelphia-foodie message boards, I discovered it’s quite a divisive subject—that is, the “authentic” way to cheese-it, with provolone, American or the fluorescent-orange stuff that comes from a can, tastes fucking incredible and, arguably, adds sheen to your coat.
Take it from a gal who’s not afraid to pig out—the 8-inch size is plenty, rich and satisfying. A heap of paper-thin sliced beef is cooked to order on the flat-top and takes just a couple of minutes; different ingredients are mixed in, grilled onions being the most common. Since my usual—without—is a recipe for agida, I hold out for the pickled-pepper-bar finish instead.
Amoroso’s Hearth Baked Bread, from the 100-plus-year-old Philly bakery, is the perfect holster for a cheesesteak. It’s mostly soft with a slight crusty quality, and tender, juicy meat that glistens with Whiz makes it an easy-to-eat sandwich—even for those without teeth, I’d imagine.
There are 10 varieties of pickled goodies to choose from—cherry peppers to dill-pickle chips and my absolute favorite, the red-pepper relish. The bright red stuff puts the slimy green kind to shame with its vinegary blast of heat that I spoon on with each bite, rather than dressing the whole sandwich. It provides a much-needed break from the richness, and, hey, sweating burns calories.