Straight From Philly of­fers 25 op­tions for fans of cheeses­teaks

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A menu with 25 Philly cheeses­teak sand­wich choices sounds great.

Un­til you’re stand­ing at the counter at newly opened Straight From Philly and have to com­mit.

Did I want the cheeses­teak bomb with an extra layer of glut­tony from capoc­ollo? Or the H Bomb with some­thing called Atomic sauce? Or the off-kil­ter ones, such as the Hawai­ian with ba­con and pineap­ple or the Cuban with ham, pickles, mus­tard and Swiss? Would I have room for the loaded fries?

With stom­ach space and a lim­ited sup­ply of Tums, I went ba­sic, which means I’ll have to — oh, darn — re­turn numer­ous times to tackle the menu’s 25 cheeses­teaks and 11 loaded fries.

Let’s call that my gut­bomb bucket list.

Own­ers Michelle and Scott Parker are new to Ta­coma but not to the cheeses­teak busi­ness.

They pre­vi­ously op­er­ated Philly sand­wich shops in Texas and Ne­vada (those both have new own­ers). They re­lo­cated here to Ta­coma to start yet an­other. Two of their four chil­dren also work at the shop.

A sand­wich shop spe­cial­iz­ing in cheeses­teaks is a rar­ity here. A crush of cus­tomers has slammed Straight From Philly since its mid-Novem­ber open­ing.

The plan orig­i­nally was for Scott — who is a Philly na­tive — to work the regis­ter and Michelle to cook, but the vol­ume of cus­tomers changed that plan.

“We had to get a fam­ily mem­ber to come help us run the regis­ter,” said Michelle.

She and Scott are both work­ing in the kitchen to keep up with de­mand. So far they’re do­ing dou­ble the busi­ness they did in Ne­vada and Texas.

That’s come with some bumps, in­clud­ing an iso­lated in­ci­dent of a mal­func­tion­ing wire­less-or­der printer and near misses with run­ning out of food. Thank­fully, their sup­plier has kept the pro­vi­sions stocked, all the way down to the Amoroso rolls im­ported from Philadel­phia.

“That’s a deal breaker for us. It’s not a cheeses­teak with­out an Amoroso,” Michelle said about the fa­mous hearth-baked Philly sand­wich rolls with a sturdy tex­ture. “Amoro- so has a chew to it that no other bread has. The cheese will break down the other bread and make it mushy.”

She said those rolls cost dou­ble a typ­i­cal Ital­ian or hoagie roll, but there’s no com­pro­mis­ing on the roll.

The cheeses­teak for­mula here is straight­for­ward — and darn good. Sea­soned steak is chopped into pieces large and small, yield­ing pleas­ing zigzags of tex­ture, with just the right carameliza­tion on the edges. Pep­pers and onions like­wise are grilled into sweet sub­mis­sion.

The rolls come with just the right chew. The cheese is a vi­tal fla­vor and tex­ture com­po­nent.

Lo­cals might no­tice that there’s a bit of engi­neer­ing mar­vel in the sand­wich con­struc­tion. At Straight From Philly, cheese is deeply in­cor­po­rated into the tan­gle of meat, onions and pep­pers with full cheesy cov­er­age from end to end. Each bite pulls with gooey strings of cheese, which I ar­gue makes a su­pe­rior cheeses­teak.

I’ve heard from a few din­ers that they want a cheesy drape of cheese in a sin­gle layer on top of the sand­wich. To those peo­ple I ask, “Are you in­sane?”

How­ever, Parker said they’d make a cheeses­teak with a layer of cheese on top, if re­quested.

My pref­er­ence is full cheesy in­cor­po­ra­tion.

Here’s a first-bite look. It’s this pa­per’s pol­icy to avoid crit­i­cism of food and ser­vice in a res­tau­rant’s first month.

At­trac­tive, with well-spaced ta­bles and seat­ing for 24. Or­der at the counter, lis­ten for your name and col­lect your or­der.

Don’t let the long lines daunt you. My visit saw a line 10 or 15 deep, but my ex­pe­ri­ence was about a half hour from or­der­ing to eat­ing to ex­it­ing.

25 cheeses­teaks sand­wiches, eight cheese­burg­ers, 11 loaded fries, gyro sand­wiches and six hoagie sand­wiches.

All cheeses­teaks come stan­dard with grilled steak, Amer­i­can cheese and fried onions, un­less spec­i­fied. Chicken also avail­able. Cheese Whiz and pro­volone avail­able at no extra charge, by re­quest.

Low-tech op­tions in­clude a steak and onion ($8.50), a ba­sic with cheese ($9.50), a choice of sweet pep­per, bell pep­per, ba­nana pep­per, cherry pep­per or jalapeno pep­per cheeses­teaks ($10.50), plus loaded spe­cialty cheeses­teaks such as the Cuban with ham, chicken, Swiss, mus­tard and pickles ($11.50); a Hawai­ian with chicken, ba­con, pineap­ple and pro­volone ($11.50); a South Philly with pep­pers, mush­rooms, onions and Cheese Whiz ($11.50); a North Philly with mush­rooms, bell pep­pers, onions and pro­volone ($11.50); the H Bomb with capoc­ollo, cherry pep­pers, ha­banero jack cheese and atomic sauce ($11.90); and the Broad Street Bully with mush­rooms, extra cheese and four kinds of pep­pers — bell, ba­nana, hot cherry and sweet ($12.90). All cheeses­teaks served a la carte.

Third-pound burg­ers are stan­dard, and top­ping choices in­clude cheese ($7.90), ba­con and cheese ($8.90), mush­room Swiss ($7.90), ba­con and blue cheese ($8.90) and more. All burg­ers served with fries.

Gyro sand­wiches with lamb on pita and served with fries ($8.60 to $9.60), and six hoa­gies dressed with may­on­naise, let­tuce, tomato, onion, sweet pep­pers, oil and vine­gar, salt and pep­per and oregano and served with chips ($8.90 to $9.90).

11 kinds of fries with top­pings span­ning steak and Cheese Whiz ($6.90), dirty fries with steak and gravy ($6.90), chili cheese fries ($4.90), gar­lic chicken parme­san fries ($6.90), Greek fries ($6.90) and ba­con cheese fries

($4.90).

Onion rings ($4.90), fried mac and cheese bites ($5.90), fried pickles ($5.90), moz­zarella sticks ($5.90), jalapeno pop­pers ($5.90) and more.

$7.95 daily spe­cial dur­ing all hours in­cludes half a cheeses­teak, chips and soda.

Sand­wiches served on a bed of let­tuce are avail­able.

Don’t miss the ap­pro­pri­ately named Cheeses­teak Bomb with dou­ble fat punches from a huge por­tion of chopped, grilled steak and slices of cured capoc­ollo ($11.50).The sand­wich held gooey re­in­force­ment from pro­volone. All sand­wiches were enough for two peo­ple, eas­ily.

The Atomic Gar­lic Parme­san got its fiery heat from Atomic sauce, which is Louisiana hot sauce steeped with ha­baneros and a sprin­kle of “pep­per dust,” which is chile pow­der house-made from dried, ground ha­baneros ($10.50). The South Philly was a clas­sic with lots of grilled pep­pers, mush­rooms, onions and a gen­er­ous channel of Cheese Whiz ($11.50).

Atomic fries car­ried that same epi­cally hot Atomic sauce, a river of Cheese Whiz over molten hot fries ($4.40).

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