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A cheesesteak sandwich with Cheez Whiz
Alternative namesPhiladelphia cheesesteak, Philly cheesesteak
CourseMain course
Place of originUnited States
Region or statePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Created byPat & Harry Olivieri
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsSliced steak, cheese, bread

A cheesesteak (also known as a Philadelphia cheesesteak, Philly cheesesteak, cheesesteak sandwich, cheese steak, or steak and cheese) is a sandwich made from thinly sliced pieces of beefsteak and melted cheese in a long hoagie roll.[1][2] A popular regional fast food, it has its roots in the U.S. city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[3]


The cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century "by combining frizzled beef, onions, and cheese in a small loaf of bread", according to a 1987 exhibition catalog published by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.[4]

Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930s.[5][6] The exact story behind its creation is debated, but in some accounts, Pat and Harry Olivieri originally owned a hot dog stand, and on one occasion, decided to make a new sandwich using chopped beef and grilled onions. While Pat was eating the sandwich, a cab driver stopped by and was interested in it, so he requested one for himself. After eating it, the cab driver suggested that Olivieri quit making hot dogs and instead focus on the new sandwich.[5][7] They began selling this variation of steak sandwiches at their hot dog stand near South Philadelphia's Italian Market. They became so popular that Pat opened up his own restaurant which still operates today as Pat's King of Steaks.[8] The sandwich was originally prepared without cheese; Olivieri said provolone cheese was first added by Joe "Cocky Joe" Lorenza, a manager at the Ridge Avenue location.[9] No actual documentary evidence exists of the Olivieri story, however, and like many such origin stories it may be apocryphal, perpetuated by the author's retelling. The cheesesteak may well have appeared and spread gradually among anonymous cooks.

Cheesesteaks have become popular at restaurants and food carts throughout the city with many locations being independently owned, family-run businesses.[10][11] Variations of cheesesteaks are now common in several fast food chains.[12] Versions of the sandwich can also be found at high-end restaurants.[13][14] Many establishments outside of Philadelphia refer to the sandwich as a "Philly cheesesteak".[7]



The meat traditionally used is thinly sliced rib-eye or top round, although other cuts of beef are also used.[15] On a lightly oiled griddle at medium temperature, the steak slices are quickly browned and then scrambled into smaller pieces with a flat spatula. Slices of cheese are then placed over the meat, letting it melt, and then the roll is placed on top of the cheese. The mixture is then scooped up with a spatula and pressed into the roll, which is then cut in half.[16]

Common additions include sautéed onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, hot sauce, salt, and black pepper.


In Philadelphia, cheesesteaks are invariably served on hoagie rolls. Among several brands, perhaps the most famous are Amoroso rolls; these rolls are long, soft, and slightly salted.[17] One source writes that "a proper cheesesteak consists of provolone or Cheez Whiz slathered on an Amoroso roll and stuffed with thinly shaved grilled meat,"[18] while a reader's letter to an Indianapolis magazine, lamenting the unavailability of good cheesesteaks, wrote that "the mention of the Amoroso roll brought tears to my eyes."[19] After commenting on the debates over types of cheese and "chopped steak or sliced", Risk and Insurance magazine declared, "The only thing nearly everybody can agree on is that it all has to be piled onto a fresh, locally baked Amoroso roll."[20]


American cheese, provolone, and Cheez Whiz are the most commonly used cheeses or cheese products put on to the Philly cheesesteak.[21]

White American cheese, along with provolone cheese, are the favorites due to their mild flavor and medium consistency. Some establishments melt the American cheese to achieve the creamy consistency, while others place slices over the meat, letting them melt slightly under the heat. Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan says, "Provolone is for aficionados, extra-sharp for the most discriminating among them," although LaBan was at the time new to the Philadelphia area, and sharp provolone is rarely found in cheesesteak shops, while mild provolone is common. Geno's owner, Joey Vento, said, "We always recommend the provolone. That's the real cheese."[21]

Cheez Whiz, first marketed in 1952, was not yet available for the original 1930 version, but has expanded in popularity.[22] A 1986 New York Times article called Cheez Whiz "the sine qua non of cheesesteak connoisseurs."[23] In a 1985 interview, Pat Olivieri's nephew Frank Olivieri said that he uses "the processed cheese spread familiar to millions of parents who prize speed and ease in fixing the children's lunch for the same reason, because it is fast."[24] Cheez Whiz is "overwhelmingly the favorite" at Pat's, outselling runner-up American by a ratio of eight or ten to one, while Geno's claims to go through eight to ten cases of Cheez Whiz a day.[21]

Cooper Sharp, a "Pasteurized Process American Cheese", is gaining ground as a new cheese option as of 2023. Made from aged Cheddar and having a higher milkfat content, the product is sharper and creamier than ordinary American cheese.[25] According to Kosuke Chujo, who runs a cheesesteak shop in Japan, the cheese "was very creamy and delicious with the perfect balance of salt".[26]


  • A chicken cheesesteak or chicken Philly is made with chicken instead of beef.[27]
  • A buffalo chicken cheesesteak is a chicken cheesesteak with buffalo sauce, and may contain bluecheese.[28][29]
  • A mushroom cheesesteak is a cheesesteak with mushrooms.[30][31]
  • A pepper cheesesteak is a cheesesteak with green bell peppers, hot cherry peppers, long hot peppers, or sweet peppers.[15][30][31]
  • A pizza steak is a cheesesteak topped with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese and may be toasted in a broiler.[32]
  • A cheesesteak hoagie contains lettuce and tomato in addition to the ingredients found in the traditional steak sandwich, and may contain other elements often served in a hoagie.[33]
  • A vegan cheesesteak is a sandwich that replaces steak and cheese with vegan ingredients, such as seitan or mushrooms for the steak, and soy-based cheese.[34][35][36][37]
  • A steak milano is a cheesesteak containing grilled or fried tomatoes and oregano.[31][38]
  • The Heater is served at Phillies baseball games at Citizens Bank Park, so named for being a spicy variation as it is topped with jalapeños, Buffalo sauce, and jalapeño cheddar.[39][40]
  • A variation in Lahore uses masalas and Indo-Pak spices. [14]

See also


  1. ^ Pham, K.; Shen, P.; Phillips, T. (2014). Food Truck Road Trip--A Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes Collected from the Best Street Food Vendors Coast to Coast. Page Street Publishing. ISBN 978-1-62414-087-7.
  2. ^ Fodor's Travel Publications, I.; Jabado, S.C. (2010). Fodor's 2010 Philadelphia & the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Fodor's Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Fodor's Travel Pub. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-4000-0877-3.
  3. ^ Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (21 November 2008). "Philadelphia – African American Visitor's Guide and its suburbs" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-10.
  4. ^ Hines, Mary Anne; Marshall, Gordon; Weaver, William Woys (1987). The Larder Invaded. The Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. ISBN 978-0-914076-70-4.
  5. ^ a b Andrew F. Smith, ed. (2007). The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. p. 451. ISBN 978-0195307962.
  6. ^ Stuhldreher, Katie (30 July 2007). "Rick's Steaks takes Reading Terminal Market dispute to court". philly.com. Archived from the original on 24 January 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2007.
  7. ^ a b Ivory, Karen (2011). Philadelphia Icons: 50 Classic Views of the City of Brotherly Love. Globe Pequot. p. 18. ISBN 978-0762767656.
  8. ^ Epting, Chris (2009). The Birthplace Book: A Guide to Birth Sites of Famous People, Places, & Things. Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0811740180.
  9. ^ Fiorillo, Victor (15 December 2008). "The Cheesesteak Cometh". Philadelphia Magazine. Archived from the original on 2010-07-18. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  10. ^ Brookes, Karin; et al. (2005). Zoë Ross (ed.). Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings (Second (Updated) ed.). APA Publications. ISBN 978-1-58573-026-1.
  11. ^ Price, Betsy (10 July 2009). "Tour de cheesesteak". The News Journal. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  12. ^ Hein, Kenneth (22 January 2009). "Domino's, Subway Battle Heats Up". Brandweek. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  13. ^ Horowitz, Rachel (11 April 2004). "Cheesesteak raises eyebrows and drains wallets". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  14. ^ a b Shahid, Kunwar Khuldune (2023-04-09). "The Amazing Story of How Cheesesteaks Became Huge in Lahore, Pakistan". Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  15. ^ a b "Cheesesteaks 101: The Basics". Original Philly Cheesesteak Co.
  16. ^ "How To Cook Up A Real Philly Cheesesteak". Original Philly Cheesesteak Co.
  17. ^ Hodgman, John (May 2002). "Philly Mignon". Men's Journal. Amoroso Baking Company. Archived from the original on 2008-03-25. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
  18. ^ Fekete, Jeffery (2009). Making the Big Game. Mill City Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-935097-32-7.
  19. ^ Powell, Warren (December 2000). "Beef Eaters". Indianapolis Magazine. p. 17. ISSN 0899-0328.
  20. ^ Kerr, Michelle (April 2005). "Hungry for a taste of Philly?". Risk and Insurance. Vol. 16, no. 4. p. 20.
  21. ^ a b c Mucha, Peter. (23 May 2008). "Whiz on a cheesesteak: Hit or myth?". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  22. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (9 June 2007). "Edwin Traisman, 91, Dies; Helped Create Iconic Foods". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2008.
  23. ^ "Cheese Steak: An Original". The New York Times. 21 May 1986. p. C6. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
  24. ^ Stevens, William K. (16 November 1985). "About Philadelphia: Where Cheesesteaks are King, One Family Has Assumed the Crown". The New York Times. p. 10. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
  25. ^ Klein, Michael (11 December 2023). "Why cheesesteak connoisseurs melt over Cooper Sharp cheese". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  26. ^ Savage, Henry (31 January 2024). "Philly's unofficial Japanese cheesesteak ambassador reveals his favorite local cheesesteak". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  27. ^ "Philly's Famous Cheesesteaks - Clearwater, FL". Philly's Famous Cheesesteaks.
  28. ^ "Angelo's Pizzeria South Philly". Angelo's Pizzeria. Retrieved 11 June 2024.
  29. ^ "Chickie's & Pete's Menu". Chickie’s & Pete’s. Retrieved 11 June 2024.
  30. ^ a b "Dalessandros' Menu". Dalessandro's Steaks and Hoagies - Philadelphia PA.
  31. ^ a b c "Geno's Steaks Menu". Geno's Steaks.
  32. ^ "Sonny's Famous Steaks, Old City, Philadelphia". Sonny's Famous Steaks.
  33. ^ "Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks". Visit Philly.
  34. ^ "Dinner on Deadline: Vegan version of the Philly Cheesesteak". Archived from the original on April 13, 2015.
  35. ^ "2016 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly contest".
  36. ^ "Five Philadelphia restaurants serving great vegan cheesesteaks".
  37. ^ "A guide to vegan cheesesteaks and scrambles in philadelphia".
  38. ^ "John's Roast Pork Menu". John's Roast Pork.
  39. ^ "Citizens Bank Park Cheesesteaks". MLB Ballpark Guides. 2017-01-13. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  40. ^ Flatt, Collin (2012-04-05). "What to Eat at Citizens Bank Park, Home of the Phillies". Eater Philly. Retrieved 2019-02-25.

External links