If you read my blog, I'm sure you realize I like most combinations of meat and bread. That runs the gambit from Oscar Meyer to Porchetta, as long as I have protein surrounded by carbs (cue the jokes), I'm a fairly happy guy. Now, I've heard good things about Tony Luke's. Not that there's much that can go wrong by stuffing beef and cheese inside a hoagie roll, but the consensus is that their sandwiches are truly something special. When Tony Luke's does it, it's culinary art, not like the random dude selling frozen cheesesteaks on the corner of 34th and Walnut. I guess the saying "too legit to quit" is completely appropriate in this case.
I actually first learned about Tony Luke's watching Bobby Flay get his ass spanked on 'Throwdown.' If I recall correctly, he made a bootleg fancy schmancy version of a cheesesteak (probably with some form of chipotle mayo, since that's the only trick he has up his sleeve), and was promptly disposed of when Tony Luke busted out a broccoli rabe and provolone sandwich. Naturally, I ordered the Roast Beef Italian since it has all those elements. Basically, they stuff as much freakin' roast beef as they can without tearing the spine (I'm not sure that's what it's called) of a foot long hoagie roll layered with a creamy mix of broccoli rabe and provolone cheese.
This thing is truly epically large. The sandwich is fantastically well thought out... the beef is proper and juicy, tender enough that it pulls apart easily, but with tendon interspersed so there's distinct textural contrast. The flavors are carefully planned, with the strong beef scent accented by the sharp cheese, which in turn gets offset by the slight bitterness of the broccoli rabe. Honest opinion? It puts DiNic's to shame... and that's not a knock on DiNic's, but a testament to Tony Luke's.
Of course, going there meant getting a cheesesteak. Since the Roast Beef Italian already had provolone, it made sense to change things up and to go with cheese wiz. Things that come from cans = always better, for instance... whipped cream, cheeseburgers, cheese... I rest my case. Anyway, this sandwich didn't feel too far off from the roast beef one. Maybe my palate isn't very refined when it comes to differentiating different cuts of meat, but it feels the same, with the exception that this was cooked on a flat top griddle instead of roasted in its juices. Appropriately tender and adequately fat, the beef flavor melds just as swimmingly with the cheese wiz as the roast variant did with the provolone. Both are great, just with different flavor profiles.
I think each of these runs about $7-8, so they're not quite as cheap as the cheesesteaks I could pick up from random carts on campus, but that's not really a fair comparison either. Tony Luke's shit runs circles against those guys. Do I mind paying an extra couple of dollars for that kind of quality? Nah, it's okay to splurge sometimes.