Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tony Luke's

Monday April 26th, 2010
Tony Lukes, Oregon at Front, Philadelphia, PA

It was the day after an insane late night party, after a slow worn out day of struggle, after a not so wild but still insane ‘dudes-in-hats’ style fake south lounge out. Come Monday, I couldn’t wrap my head around it either. Shockingly I showed up for work, went through all the regular motions, but only an hour in, I hit that wall. Usually it takes at least two hours, three on a good day, before I hit the wall and my progress meter swan dives to zero and sits idling. So I did what I felt was best for everyone, and left.
The previous night, Roast Pork Italians came up in conversation twice. A not so well known traditional Philadelphia sandwich sadly overshadowed by the Cheese Steak, which although I’ve wanted to try since finding out about it, have not. A place called Paisano’s on Girard came recommended in both conversations about the sandwich, but was closed, so we opted for the famous Tony Lukes. Located in deep south Philly, it was about halfway there, after already stopping at Paisano’s that I realized I wouldn’t be returning from this ‘break’ I was on at work.
Tony Luke, appearance wise, is the sort of typical South Philly goon I would expect to be fighting with the auto body shop guys on my street, or calling me a fag when I walk past his sports bar, but instead of going that route he followed his passion for the Cheese Steak and made it big. This guy’s all over TV, he’s opening a restaurant in Dubai, he’s got microwave-able Cheese Steaks for sale in the grocery store with a picture of one of the nasty things reflecting off his bald scalp. A regular entrepreneur this guy.

We considered these “Frank Fries”, but five out of six of us got the Roast Pork Italian, a blending of slow roasted Pork, Broccoli Rabe, and sharp Provolone cheese on a regular sandwich roll. This was my first time having it, but I think Tony put a fine recipe together and trained his people well. The bitterness of the Broccoli Rabe provides a pleasant backdrop and contrasting accompaniment to the star of the show, the soft slow roasted pork slices. The two of these being bridged together by the sharp provolone, both literally with its melted glue like qualities adhering the rabe to the roast, and flavor wise with the sharp provolone being relatable to the rabe in its sharp flavor and to the pork in its creamy and pleasant texture, it was the perfect segue between the two. A truly exciting three ingredient sandwich.
Quickly, we hurried the end of our meals, tossing the scraps aside in effort to escape photographic stares from the near by ‘cheese steak challenge’ board, full of post ‘victory’ images of the grease sweating ‘winners’ of the five pound cheese steak challenge, and the army of New Jersey cops who boldly parked in the middle of these South Philly streets (I’m sure there’s a secret favor explaining this somewhere), caravanning back to the homestead to bid our guests farewell and get started on some home-rejuvenation. Gladly sacrificing a full days work and a full days pay for the experience of the Roast Pork Italian.

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