Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mama’s Pizzeria Cheesy Cheese Steak Review

Mama’s Pizzeria is located at 426 Belmont Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004. Established in 1958, Mama’s has built a large reputation. Their shop has two levels. The first level is mainly for take out with a few tables. The second floor has the restaurant area. Be wary of the clowns as there are many pictures of clowns on their walls.

Although Mama’s Pizzeria has won many awards including Best of Philly (Mainline) 2006 cheese steaks, their sandwich doesn’t cut it for me. Let me explain why.

Mama’s Pizzeria sells what they call mini sandwiches in addition to their large. The mini cheese steak was $6.50 and their large was $10.75. Their mini was only 6 inches (I kid you not) and their large was only 10 inches. So after reading my blog and all of the best Philly cheese steak sandwiches, you will find that at the time of this writing, a Geno’s and Pat’s famous Steaks cost $8 for about a 10 inch Philly cheese steak. These are the most famous places in Philly and their sandwich is $3 cheaper than Mama’s Pizzeria large (equivalent in size). Their argument is that the pack their sandwich thick. I say “Who cares.” Actually, they didn’t pack it thick enough for that price compared to a Gooey Looey’s, Leo’s Steaks, or any local steak shop in South Philly for that matter. I bought the mini sandwich because I wanted to test the ground. Good thing I did as aside from the size and cost issue, the taste was nowhere in line to be considered the best.

Mama’s Pizzeria chops their steak instead of using strips. I think that they may have chopped it too fine. If you read the interview of the famous Rick Olivieri from Rick’s Steaks he explains why chopping is second to steak strips in terms of quality. He says that it is easier to hide the quality of the beef when it is chopped. It is the opposite effect for steak strips, which demonstrate easily if the beef has beautiful marbeling or not. I totally agree with him and with a sandwich such as Mama’s Pizza I can’t tell what the steak even looks like. The steak was chopped so fine and covered with so much cheese that you can barely see anything let alone what grade and texture the beef has.

That leads to another point that I didn’t like about Mama’s Pizzeria. They used so much cheese (American) that the sandwich looked like a big bowl of cheese with something (you had to find the surprise) inside. Guess what the surprise was - some form of steak. With just a mini sandwich I must have ate more cheese than in the last 5 cheese steak reviews. The cheese was not only mixed inside with the steak and onions but it was layered on top of the sandwich and on the top and bottom of the roll (this is insane).

The rolls on Mama’s Philly cheese steak were semi soft Italian roll. The onions were not thoroughly cooked. This was another negative. Onions need a little brown too them whether it is a light or average (burnt is bad too).

Overall, I do not recommend Mama’s Pizzeria. They are way over priced, have too much cheese, onions are not cooked enough, and the steak has a lower grade quality that was well hidden in the chop. If you like all of these qualities than you are more than welcome to pay them a visit. If you like my style of Philly cheese steaks then stay tuned for more reviews (or visit my Best Philly Cheese Steaks Review page).

Mama's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


  1. I highly disagree with this article. The Philly Cheese Steak from Mama's is very unique and not the typical "Pat's/Geno's". Those restaurants only get the amount of attention they receive because of the long time fight between them, while in actuality, there 'steaks can't even be compared to the world class "Mama's". Unlike the light fiasco at Geno's and Pat's, Mama's is small, quaint, and feels more like home. The cheese steak is out of this world and I highly recommend buying it.

    1. I completely agree. On top that, this review days the cheese is American. Buzzy. Wrong! The cheese is a blend of 4 cheeses. The exact mix is a secret, of course. This just demonstrated how little the reviewer knows and essentially validated his amateur knowledge.

    2. I Agree, they must have shorten the sandwiches in the last couple of years.
      The article states only 10 inches for large, and I always remembered 12 inches was a small there. But that was in the 80's and 90's.

  2. You don't know much about cheese steaks or cheese. The cheese is a mixture of 3 cheeses, not all American, if it was all American, it would not get stringy when cooling. Also, the roll is 2 1/2 times wider than the Pat's or Geno's with the cheese whiz, therefore you are getting a better deal at Mama's.