Friday, October 16, 2009

Rick’s Original Philly Steaks Review

Rick’s Original Philly Steaks is located at the Bellevue Hotel downstairs, 200 South Broad Street at Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102. This is really a special review because Rick Olivieri, owner of this place, is a legend in the cheese steak world. He is the direct descendent of Pasquale (Pat) Olivieri who started the first Philly steak sandwich in 1932.

The history of Rick’s ancestry is as follows: Pat Olivieri was his grandfather who invented the Philly cheese steak in 1932. In 1934, Pat’s son, Herbert Olivieri, was born (Rick’s father). Herb’s son Rick Olivieri was born in 1964.

The history of Rick’s Original Philly Steaks began in 1982 when Rick and his father Herb opened a place in the Reading Terminal called Olivieri Prince of Steaks (Herb’s nickname). In 1995, Rick’s father retired and passed his crown to Rick to take over his empire and the store name was changed to Rick’s Original Philly Steaks. In 2008, Rick left the reading Terminal and began his new business at the famous Bellevue in Center City Philadelphia.

Rick’s Original Philly Steaks has received so many awards and recognition that it would take forever to mention them. For more information about Philly cheese steak history you should visit my Pat’s King of Steaks review page.

Rick’s Steaks at its new location at the Bellevue is very simple. There are several tables in front but it is set up within a food court of many other restaurants competing for your business. Rick’s is all the way in the back at the end. The way it works is you order your food and then you find yourself a table.

Rick’s staff was very friendly. I ordered a regular cheese steak with onions. There is a side counter for peppers if you would like.

The Italian roll was nice and soft but not quite a foot long. The steak used was chuck eye steak, which is a little different than rib eye but Rick believes that this meat is better. The steak is in strips and not chopped and stacked several thin slices of steak high. The American cheese was mixed well with the lightly browned onions, steak, and cheese.

The price for the sandwich was $7.80. This is a little steep compared to the competitors but you have to add in the location of this place in Center City Philadelphia.

I like Rick’s Steak. It is not one of my most memorable sandwiches that I have eaten but it has enough to get it into the Best Philly Cheese Steaks Club. Rick’s history is absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend that you learn more about it from his website or throughout this website if you are a cheese steak fan.

For your convenience I have included an interview of Rick Olivieri below.

1. How are you related to the Inventor of the Steak Sandwich, Pat Olivieri?

Pat was my Grandfather. My father, Herb Olivieri, was Pat’s son.

I am the only one of my dad’s five children who was interested in the family business. I started slinging cheesesteaks at age 14. Click here to learn about me.

2. How old was your Grandfather (Pat) when he created the Steak Sandwich?

My grandfather was 25 years old in 1932 when he made that first steak sandwich. His youngest brother, Harry, who worked for him, was 16 at the time. Click here to learn more about our family tradition.

3. Do you own the restaurant in South Philadelphia with your Grandfather’s name on it?

No. The store in South Philly is still owned by family members, but Rick’s Steaks is NOT affiliated with that store in any way. We are completely separate businesses and our sandwiches are completely different as well.

4. What was the first type of cheese added to the sandwich and when?

In 1949, one of "Pop-Pop" Pat’s employees, Joe Lorenzo, slapped some American cheese on his own sandwich for a change of pace. The cheesesteak was born!! Provolone was also an option at that time. Cheez Whiz was included as an option soon after it was introduced in the 50’s.
At Reading Terminal Market, provolone is the most requested cheese.

5. Why don’t you chop up your meat like other steak shops? Isn’t that the authentic way to do it?

Actually, chopping IS NOT the authentic preparation!

"Pop-Pop" Pat (Olivieri) did not chop up the steak for his sandwiches. He grilled the slices whole. This is the proper and traditional way to cook a cheesesteak.

SOME PLACES CHOP UP THEIR BEEF TO DISGUISE THE MEAT that they use. This process also tends to overcook the meat, making it dry and, in some cases, burnt. At Rick’s, we have nothing to hide. Our steak is beautifully marbled and delicious!

6. Why do you use Chuck-eye when most other shops use Rib-eye?

Years ago, a meat packer suggested I try using Chuck-eye because it has more flavor and less gristle than Rib-eye. After taste testing it myself, and giving it a trial run at our restaurant, we agreed: Chuck-eye tastes better!

7. Do you think Rick's Steaks is “the best” Steak Sandwich?

Well, many seem to feel that we are one of “the best” cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, and we certainly believe that we serve a GREAT steak sandwich! Truth is, it’s really hard to label any one place “the best” because we all have our own loyal customers. Everyone has different tastes and preferences. The one YOU like most is “the best” to you! Even Philly Mag chooses a different chessesteak place every year.

8. Do you think your success at the Reading Terminal Market was because you are across from the Convention Center?

Nah! While the addition of the Convention Center in the 1990’s has increased foot traffic at the Reading Terminal Market, we have been here for over 25 years! Long before the Convention Center, long before renovations improved the look of The Market, long before air conditioning and heat made shopping at The Market more comfortable. We had always been one of the busiest and most successful stands in Reading Terminal Market History!

Now, we're geting ready to start a new chapter in the Rick's Steaks history! We will be reopening in a new location: Downstairs at The Bellevue (Broad & Walnut Sts.) in mid-April 2009.

9. Do you need to order in English-only at Rick’s Steaks?

Food is an international language, and everyday we serve customers from all over the world. All are happily served at Rick’s Steaks!

10. Do you send people to the back of the line if they are too slow when ordering?

No Way! While we appreciate when customers have their choices ready when they reach the register, we will happily assist you with your order. Satisfying the customer is our #1 priority!
In the meantime, you can acquaint yourself with Philly Cheesesteak Ordering Lingo by clicking here.

11. Is your father still involved in the business?

Unfortunately, no. My dad (Herb) passed away in December 1998 after a long illness.

12. Are Philly Cheese Steaks made with Philadelphia™ Cream Cheese?

No! Philadelphia™ Cream Cheese makes a great cheese CAKE, but it would taste lousy on a cheeseSTEAK!

13. How often do you (Rick) eat a cheese steak?

I used to eat one EVERY DAY until I got married. My wife Debi has encouraged me to eat a little healthier, so I limit myself to one cheesesteak each week.

14. How do you like your cheese steak?

Cheez Whiz, onions, hot peppers and ketchup ("Whiz, with... Plus hots and ketchup")

15. Other than cheesesteaks, what is your favorite thing to order in a restaurant?

Filet Mignon!

16. Do you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from flipping cheese steaks all day?

Not Yet! Hopefully I won't ever develop the condition.
Maybe I should insure my right hand!

18. How did you come to take over “Geno’s Steaks” place at Citizens Bank Park?

I was approached by the Phillies' Director of Business Development, Joe Giles, and asked if I would be interested in the concession. Before I agreed to sign a contract with Aramark, I contacted “Geno’s” owner, Joe Vento, to find out why he was leaving. After meeting with Mr. Vento, I accepted the offer to open at Citizens Bank Park with Mr. Vento’s blessing.

19. What is Cheez Whiz made of?

Do we really want to know the answer?! Great Stuff!

20. So which is it: Cheese Steak or Cheesesteak?

Either way is fine, as long as "Rick's" and "Philly" are in there also! When it came to creating our web site (website), after some lengthy debates, we finally settled on it being one word: Cheesesteak.

Rick's Steaks on Urbanspoon


  1. Very interesting interview....I'm a big fan of Rick steak's and I'm from Philly, so I found that historic reference to be very inciteful...Good for you, Rick!!!


  2. Thanks Dena,

    Rick Olivieri's history and his connection to the Philly cheese steak is fascinating. Rick also is a big volunteer for many organizations. It is nice to know that a lucrative business like the Philly cheese steak world can at least be run by people who care enough to spread the money around to the Philadelphia community.

  3. This is a interesting blog site. i have learn many thing from your site. thanks for your post.