Who wants to donate to Pat’s for a recount? After leading for a day or two, the place known as the inventor of the thing was overtaken by Tony Luke’s in Round 2 of our Ultimate Cheesesteak Bracket. Fans of Tony pulled out 61 percent of the final vote, leaving the field entirely free of “Cheesesteak Vegas” representation.
All the contests in this round attracted attention — the Sweet 16 pulled in double the votes of the previous round — and now we’re left with a hard-won Elite Eight.
John’s Roast Pork crushed its South Philly compatriot Cosmi’s, 80 to 20 percent, but not quite as hard as Dalessandro’s smacked down on Abner’s — the college fave only pulled in 12 percent of the vote. Steve’s also won big over Del Rossi’s (76 to 24), and Joe’s pulled out a win over Max’s, 59 to 41.
There were a couple of other upsets in addition to Pat’s loss. Family-owned Old City staple Campo’s Deli was picked by 59 percent of voters, topping South Street’s Ishkabibble’s. (Maybe if this competition was about chicken cheesesteaks it would’ve done better. But this is all beef, all the time, baby.) And we’re not gonna know who’d win the Roxborough across-the-street battle, because Chubby’s didn’t make it through — it fell to sleeper favorite Barry’s, 56 to 44 percent.
Now we only have four contests left, and the matchups are smoking hot. In South Philly, tailgate and post-game favorite Tony Luke’s has to contend with John’s Roast Pork this go-round, no easy feat. The latter uses seeded rolls that have more heft and chew than usual, but grill workers at the standalone shack on Snyder Avenue pay unprecedented attention to detail (there’s also no Whiz available there).
In the Northeast, two longtime classics go head-to-head, and their products couldn’t be more different. Steve’s does the slab thing, laying thick slices of beef on the grill and flipping them exactly once before they’re placed on an extremely soft roll and topped with cheese sauce — either Whiz or the house special liquid American cheese. Whereas Joe’s is more traditional: Griddle chopped rib-eye, your choice of cheese, Liscio’s roll.
Jim’s Steaks has shown itself hard to top in any race. Although sandwiches can be wildly inconsistent at the South Street shop, anything you get when it’s 2:30 a.m. and you’re seriously drunk hungry will be your friend forever. Can midday cheesesteaks from Campo’s on Market Street compete with those happy memories? We’ll see.
And in the Northwest, it would be a total shock to see anyone top Dalessandro’s, which consistently has been the top vote-getter for its gooey creation, where the meat and cheese are so chopped up together they almost become a new substance entirely. But if anyone can do it, maybe it’s Barry’s — we didn’t expect the 27-year-old gem to make it this far in the first place.
No go forth and vote!