Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef Philly Cheese Steak?
Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef first opened in 1938 and is still located in its original address at 2149 South 20 Street, South Philadelphia, PA 19145. Nick’s is a little sit down joint with a bar. The décor is totally 70’s but that is what people like best about it, like you walk into another time dimension.
In 1998, Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef opened up its second location at 10 East Woodland Avenue, Springfield, PA 19064 (why did they go so far?). There are several other places with the same name that claim to have once been a franchise of this original location but are independently owned now. For example, there is a Nick’s Roast Beef in Old City but with no current affiliation. I am curious to know more if any of you can elaborate on what the story is about the various Nick’s Roast Beef names.
I had a sample of everything today at Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef. By the way, this post is not a cheese steak review, per se. Nick’s Roast Beef does not sell Philly cheese steaks as we know it. But I am reviewing them because they have one of the best sandwiches in Philly and they are highly relevant to the Philly cheese steak world.
First, I want to say that they serve a delicious roast beef, the best that I have ever eaten. But as I was eating this, I thought to myself “How different is this sandwich from the off the wall cheese steaks that I have been eating lately?” If you use the definition of Philly cheese steak loosely you will see that this sandwich may fit in at its extreme levels. You see, roast beef is made from cattle just like rib eye steak. The same animal. The only difference is the way that it is cooked. Steak is pulled from the body and sliced then cooked. Roast beef is cooked first then sliced. The taste can be very different but I am noticing many similarities to what is traditionally known as a Philly cheese steak when compared to the places that I have been recently. Let me elaborate.
First, Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef uses round Italian rolls about four inches in diameter. Donkey’s Place uses round rolls too except with poppy seeds.
Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef uses provolone cheese only. Many cheese steak places in Philly also use provolone cheese.
Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef uses USDA prime beef. This is top of the line beef that most other cheese steak places may or may not use. Most use Choice beef a lower quality. But no matter what, it is still beef.
Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef has tons of juices that they serve with their beef. The bottom becomes soaking wet while the top is still semi dry. This is a very messy wet sandwich but ya gotta love it as it is unbelievably good. Frusco Steaks and several other steak sandwich places serve their cheese steaks wet too. Are you starting to see the resemblance?
Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef stacks up several semi thick slices of roast beef in their sandwich. For around $6 with cheese (combo) you can’t go wrong. This is similar to the price of many other cheese steak shops. Also, many other cheese steak joints stack semi thick slices of their beef in their sandwiches like Campo's Deli.
The point I am trying to make is that this roast beef sandwich has so many similarities to a Philly cheese steak that you can’t help but question whether a revolution would have this name changed. The only difference is that Nick’s does not put any onions on it and the beef is roasted (but it is the same type of meat).
This may have many of my readers scratching their heads but I would love to know what you all think about it. Do you think that a sandwich like this is a Philly cheese steak on a very loose definition? Look at Grilladelphia’s sandwich or Donkey’s Place. If you could call those sandwiches a Philly cheese steak then you can call Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef one too. Grilladelphia uses a leaner type of meat (not the standard rib eye) and a pouch. Donkey’s Place uses poppy seeded Kaiser rolls. There are so many variations of a Philly cheese steak but where do we draw the line? For more information about beef, please follow this link. Please post your comments as I would love to hear your feedback.
I forgot, I tried Nick’s baked ham, roast pork, and roast turkey sandwiches today for the first time and was impressed. They are made the same style as the roast beef but with different juices. They too use round rolls that are soft and provolone cheese. Maybe we should call these sandwiches a Philly cheese steak too (just kidding :))!