If Philadelphia is known for two things, it's got to be its signature cheesesteak sandwiches and its passionate, loyal locals. In the ongoing debate about which Philadelphia shop has the best cheesesteak sandwich, two names come up as a true rivalry — Pat's and Geno's. But is there any actual difference between these two Philadelphia cheesesteak legends?
Both serve a fairly traditional Philadelphia cheesesteak sandwich 24 hours a day on Passyunk Avenue. Both signature sandwiches consist of chopped steak, onions, and your choice of cheese — provolone, American, or Whiz. The differences are so minor that you may hardly notice them, despite what loyal fans of each allege. For one, the two shops currently use different bread providers. Geno's and Pat's use Aversa and Liscio's, respectively, but recently, they have used the same rolls. The only distinct difference is the meat, but not how it tastes. Pat's cooks and serves its beef in thin slices, while Geno's chops the slices into small cubes. And that's about the extent of that. No mysterious, special imported Cheese Whiz or flavor-enhanced onions. So, why do these two Philly cheesesteak joints find themselves as the stars in a decades-long rivalry? That seems to be the consequences of history, Rocky Balboa, and potentially a bit of cheeky marketing.
So Where's The Beef?
Responsible for the sandwich and all following cheesesteak-related debates, Pat's is credited with being the original Philadelphia cheesesteak. Founder Pat Olivieri, desperate to skip another frankfurter lunch, improvised the first cheesesteak while working at his hot dog stand on Passyunk Avenue in 1930. After a local taxi driver demanded one of these unique sandwiches, Olivieri was in the cheesesteak business. Geno's opened in 1966, and despite the close geographical location, things stayed pretty amicable until 1976 when the movie "Rocky" opened. In the film, Sly Stallone enjoys a cheesesteak from none other than the OG cheesesteak shop, Pat's. This is what really sparked the rivalry.
Joey Vento, the owner of Geno's, kept it going from there, referring to Pat's as "that guy across the street" in a 2008 Philadelphia Magazine interview, adding, "He claims he invented the steak sandwich. I'll give him that. He claims he invented the Whiz. Okay. I'll give him that. All I did was come along and perfect it." But in a conversation with Thrillist in 2016, Pat's owner (and direct descendent of Pat Olivieri, said his rival took it very seriously, saying, "He was a fierce competitor, and he worked his ass off and built an amazing business over there."
Read the original article on Mashed.