Special to the Chronicle
Growing up 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia, I've had my fair share of cheesesteaks. While Philadelphians are still fighting over whether Pat's or Geno's is better, Hofstra has added another contender to the game. The Charcoal's Grill in the Student Center has recently added their very own "Philly cheese steak" to their menu. While, most Philly natives like their cheesesteaks "wiz wit," meaning with Cheez Whiz and onions, Charcoals offers the options of cheddar cheese, sliced peppers, onions, mozzarella cheese, and an item called the Texas Toast Philly Cheese, an abominable conglomeration of American cheese, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, onions and tomatoes on Texas toast. I decided to stick to the basics and ordered my cheesesteak with cheddar cheese and green peppers.
Philadelphia native Will Smith once said in an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, “It ain’t a Philly cheesesteak if it don’t come in a greasy bag.” While my sandwich didn’t come in a bag, it definitely lacked a certain amount of, well, grease. It had all the basic ingredients—a roll, beef, cheese and whatever extras you like—but it was not a “Philly” cheesesteak. The beef was cut thicker and in larger pieces than a traditional Philly cheesesteak, and frankly was too good. A proper cheesesteak has stringy, fatty meat that is essential for that delicious drip factor Will was talking about. There definitely was not enough cheese, which left the sandwich lacking in flavor. When making a cheesesteak, it’s crucial that you mix the beef and the cheese together so that each bite is filled with cheesy goodness, and that was not the case here. Though Charcoal’s menu said the sandwich came on a “hoagie roll,” it was far from the usual Amoroso’s hoagie roll you would have in Philadelphia.
As a sandwich, it was edible. I kept hoping to really get that Philadelphia flavor, but in the end was disappointed. Maybe it could pass for the real deal with unaware New Yorkers, but not so for those who have experienced a true Philadelphia cheesesteak.