TWINSBURG — Who knew a Little South Philly existed just around the corner?
Word is spreading that The Original Steaks and Hoagies, now under new management, has the best cheesesteak sandwiches this side of Rocky Balboa.
According to Jeff Wiseman, a Clevelander who purchased the business along with Josh Bierman (originally of Philadelphia), said positive reviews on social media led to a visit by a Cleveland TV crew who said they heard the “Original” had the best cheese steak in Ohio.
That was the Friday before the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, which certainly gave the business an extra push, he said.
Located at 10735 Ravenna Road, The Original Steaks and Hoagies was founded by “Billy from Philly” eight years ago. The restaurant was in the hands of a second owner for about six months, Wiseman said, before he and Bierman bought it last December. Wiseman said they've been working diligently the past couple of months to freshen up the interior and decorate the walls with pictures and items that say “Philadelphia.”
So exactly what is cheesesteak?
According to VisitPhily.com, “A cheesesteak is a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced sautéed ribeye beef and melted cheese. Generally, the cheese of choice is Cheez Whiz, but American and provolone are common substitutions… Other toppings may include fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, ketchup and hot or sweet peppers.”
According to Philly.com, Pat Oliveri invented the Philly steak sandwich in the early 1930s and the only topping was fried onions. Cheese didn’t come until later when customers wanted something different. American and sharp provolone was used. By the mid-1950s, Pat’s brother Frank began offering Cheez Whiz which had recently hit the market.
“We are going to be food-focused with new and inventive ideas,” Wiseman said. “We've already done that with the new menu.”
The new menu includes Whizzy Tots (tater tots with Cheez Whiz), a South Philly with Italian meats and provolone, Buffalo Cheese Steak, Pizza Cheese Steak and the Hangover Cheese Steak, complete with bacon, a fried egg and hot sauce.
Wiseman made it clear, however, that he isn't taking anything off the old menu. Regular customers can get the same sandwiches they did before, only a little faster. Wiseman said he's been involved in the operation of 13 restaurants during his 25 years in the restaurant field. Bierman, he said, is a culinary school graduate with 15 years experience.
“Josh is always in the kitchen making sure everything is done the Philly way,” Wiseman said. “That's why our slogan is 'From Philly to the Land,” he said.
Wiseman said he had eyes on the restaurant for a while, since before the second owner bought it, speaking initially with the first owner.
“We really like the overall family atmosphere it brings to Twinsburg,” he said. “It's got just amazing food and we believe the brand itself is unique to the Cleveland area, and become bigger than it's been.”
The Original will soon have a second location in Fairlawn, Wiseman said, adding he hopes to add more. “But it all started here in Twinsburg,” he said.
The food is key to the Original's success, he said. Everything is from Philadelphia, according to Wiseman, from the meat, to the bread, to the pretzels.
“We're actually making it even more authentic by adding our own pretzels that are hand-rolled specifically for us right in Philly and sent to us.”
The cheesesteaks are made from 100 percent ribeye steak, he said, and the chicken tenders are made with Gerber all-natural chicken.
“It's higher quality, not processed foods,” he said. “Our product is going to be a high-end, fresh, quality produce. I believe that is going to set us apart. That and our customer service.”
Wiseman said he makes a point of checking on each guest in the dining room and makes sure they are satisfied. He also clears away plates and baskets when customers are finished — but who continue to linger before leaving. The restaurant seats 30 people.
Delivery is available as well as online ordering. Online ordering helps people “get ahead of the line,” Wiseman said, and they don't have to wait as long or at all for their food to be made. This is a plus for people on a time schedule or are just really hungry. The Original Steaks and Hoagies can be found online via Google, Yelp and Chow Now.
The Original Steaks and Hoagies is located between a Mexican restaurant and a pharmacy. The hours are Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. The phone number is 330-998-6574.
Reporter Steve Wiandt can be reached at 330-541-9420, firstname.lastname@example.org or @SteveWiandt_RPC.