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TODAY
updated 9/19/2007 11:19:58 AM ET 2007-09-19T15:19:58

Growing up in New Jersey I never experienced a true Philly cheesesteak until I went off to college in Philadelphia. The rule was that after fraternity mixers (yes, yes, I WAS one of THOSE!) we had to clean up the house before heading off to sleep. That meant Friday night ended somewhere around 3 a.m. and afterward we headed downtown to Pat's Steaks for that thinly sliced steak with peppers, onions and Cheez Whiz on a barely warmed hoagie roll.

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So when one of our viewers suggested that Vesuvio on 8th Street had an even better cheesesteak experience. I was a skeptic, but also intrigued when I found out that it was a favorite among the locals, as well as scores of Philly's best athletes.

So I took a bite ... forget about thin slices of pressed steak — this sandwich actually cooks an individual filet mignon, slices it thick and piles it on a ciabatta with provolone, sauteed onions, bacon, lettuce and tomato and a special mayo. Its more of a meal than a sandwich ... and while I still love Pat's, these two sandwiches can't even be fairly compared as the quality of the ingredients at Vesuvio clearly separates it from the traditional cheesesteak!

Adding the bacon to the steak was a brilliant move ... there is little doubt that the Vesuvio Cheesesteak BLT is very satisfying and delicious ... and could well change the way we think of the Philly cheesesteak ... or should I say Philly Cheese Filet? Can Philadelphia be the home of the Best Sandwich in America?


Phil Lempert is food editor of the TODAY show. He welcomes questions and comments, which can be sent to phil.lempert@nbc.com or by using the mail box below. For more about the latest trends on the supermarket shelves, visit Phil’s Web site at SuperMarketGuru.com.

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