We had been out exploring one morning (to be the subject of a future blog), and since it was well past lunch time, we were starving. Fortunately, I had the address of a Mediterranean restaurant that promised great falafel (for me) and great gyros (for Chuck). Unfortunately, when we pulled up we discovered that the restaurant had been replaced by a UPS store. What to do? We’ll go for sandwiches at our favorite bread and sandwich store in Tucson. (This will also be the subject of a future blog.)
“When you walk in the door and up to the counter to order at Frankie's, either Frankie Santos (owner) or one of the friendly staff
"The decor includes pictures and signs from many of the best cheesesteak & hoagie shops in Philly…. Frankie Santos came to Tucson direct from Philadelphia, PA. Grew up on the corner of 3rd and Porter Street in a neighborhood row house. His family has lived in South Philly for the past 45 years” (frankiescheesesteaks.com).
The walls are covered with Philadelphia-related items.
Time for a digression. I could never hear the slogan Wonderful Wibbage without thinking of George Carlin and his DJ character who worked at WINO Radio—Wonderful WINO. To me, the late George Carlin was the funniest comedian ever, both in his early days and later when his humor took on a harder and vastly more political edge. (“In 2004, Carlin placed second on the Comedy Central list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time, ahead of Lenny Bruce and behind Richard Pryor” [wikipedia.com]).
While most people associate him with the infamous “Seven Dirty Words,” I can’t think of George Carlin without remembering his riff on the difference between football and baseball. A couple of examples here thanks to baseball-almanac.com: “’ In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager. And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you'd ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform, you'd know the reason for this custom’ and ‘Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying.’"
But enough atmospherics. On to the food. Frankie’s offers the full range of steak sandwiches—plain (no cheese), cheesesteak, cheesesteak hoagie (with lettuce, tomato, and onion), pizza steak, and chicken cheesesteak—along with hoagies, pepper and egg sandwiches, and a Philly-style roast pork.
Chuck ordered the twelve-inch cheesesteak with mild provolone cheese and not “wit”—this means “not ‘wit’ onions”. Frankie has mastered the steak “chop” using the dueling spatula method of preparation.
And, like Gaglione’s, Frankie’s uses Amoroso’s rolls from Philadelphia. And, like Gaglione’s, the rolls arrive every two weeks frozen on a truck. We wonder, does the truck then go on to San Diego.
I was ecstatic to find my all-time favorite Philadelphia sandwich—the roast pork with broccoli rabe and provolone—on Frankie’s menu. My roll contained a heaping portion of thin-sliced pork which had been roasted with garlic and herbs. Atop this sat a garden of broccoli rabe that had been sautéed in olive oil with garlic.
A twist unique to Frankie’s is the small cup of pork jus that accompanies the sandwich. This can either be poured over the meat or, as I did, used to dip the sandwich.
Frank doesn’t stop with the steak sandwiches and Amoroso rolls. He also serves Wise Chips (a Philadelphia favorite), Tastykakes (Philadelphia’s answer to Hostess Baking, and unlike Hostess is still in
“Frankie’s reeks of authenticity, and spares no detail when it comes to providing the genuine article…. Frankie has quickly become a local, joining Tucson’s Originals, and networking with other local chefs and restaurateurs to offer Tucson only the best. And in this case it’s a Philly cheese steak which is not only is the best in town but rivals many in Philly itself!...Once you take your first bite of a Frankie’s cheese steak, or other authentic South Philly fare, you know that Frankie is bringing Tucson more than a gastronomic experience, but his true passion. And what a passion it is, the cheese steak!” (Tom Hopkins at examiner.com).
And our rating? A solid 4.5 Addies. Boy, are we glad we gave Frankie’s a second chance.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.