In New York it’s pizza. In Philly it’s a cheesesteak. Seemingly every great city has it’s food rivalries and every local has his or her favorite. How is anyone suppose to decide where to eat pizza in Manhattan when a simple google search (places = pizza+restaurant+new york, NY) turns of 81,300 pizza places! Or the fact that every corner shop claims to be “The Original”, yet walk two blocks and you find — yet again, another “The Original”.
Having spent some time in these two metropolis destinations and being the food obsessed girl I am, I have a few hints.
Grimaldi’s vs. Lomardi’s (Infamous New York Brick Oven Pizza Rivalry)
Still fighting for the title of “The First Pizza in New York City” is the rival between Grimaldi’s & Lombardi’s. Sometime in the year of 1905 these two establishments opened their doors baring a product that had not yet been introduced to the New Yorker. As year’s past and the New Yorker’s heart for pizza grew big the argument for being the first boiled. Honestly, I don’t think it’s ever been decided and the two legendary pizza joints will live on with their versions of “how it all happened”.
If you venture to the original Grimaldi’s under the Brooklyn Bridge you will not be disappointed. A hint of old New York flows through the door with the sounds of Frank Sinatra and a sign that is posted on the door “NO SLICES”. At Grimaldi’s they serve pizza as they do in Italy, by the pie. They take pride in the use of fresh ingredients and claim their Margarita (a simple invention) is the best pie on the menu. The restaurant is small and they and the original coal-oven heats the place up and emits a constant wave of fresh tomatoes, basil & garlic. Oh yeh — and the pizza. Words cannot describe the melt in your mouth deliciousness that is a Grimaldi’s pizza. I dare you to try…
Location: Under the Brooklyn Bridge at 19 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Located on the island of Manhattan, Lombardi’s Pizzeria, still cranks pizzas out everyday from their original oven built-in 1905. The pizza joint at one time was practically a small narrow hallway, perhaps 12 feet wide — today they have expanded to the neighboring spaces. You wind you way through door after door in awe of just how many rooms of people with sauce dribbling down their chins there are in this place. The pizza sauce is sweet, the cheese is cooked perfectly and the pizza is served piping hot. My only down side of the experience was that it felt touristy.
Location: Corner of Spring and Mott Street just outside of Little Italy
Geno’s Steaks & Pat’s Steaks vs. Jim’s Steaks
An ancient rivalry exists between two legendary cheesesteak joints, Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s Steaks, years of battle have taken place in who has the brightest lights, the longest lines, and the freshest bread. Both places are a must try once in my opinion if you live in or are visiting Philadelphia. It is rumored to be best late in the night after a few drinks — the people watching epic.
However a rivalry Geno’s and Pat’s is, in my mind they are one in the same. So instead of fueling the fire, I place them both up against Jim’s Steaks on South Street.
Geno’s & Pat’s
Situated on a two directly adjacent corners, Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s Steaks, seem to not only be in competition for the best cheesesteak but for the best curb appeal. Geno’s is DECKED out with neon lights and adorned with mouthful of cheesesteak snapshots of celebrities from Nicholas Cage to Vanna White. Rumor has it, this is curb appeal and claim to fame is Geno’s effort to make up for the fact that Pat’s steaks are better. Pat’s corner home does not sport a giant neon sign of a cheesesteak, but it appeals to a crowd of it’s own. On any given night lines are down the block, and people are gorging on cheesesteaks.
Location: East Passyuck at the corners of 9th & Wharton, Philadelphia, PA
Jim’s Steaks has been grilling up onions and serving cheesesteaks with wiz, to the greater Philadelphia area since 1939. The menu is simple – cheesesteaks and hoagies. In my mind what make’s Jim’s special is the bread, it soaks up the juices of the steak and onions, without the becoming the dreaded soggy bread that breaks at the seam. The steak is good quality, the onions have been on the grill for what seems like hours and the lines are half that of Geno’s & Pat’s.
Locations: 400 South Street; 431 North 62nd Street; Bustleton & Cottman Avenues; 469 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, PA