Rocco’s Steaks, Paoli

March 8th, 2010

roccos steak

Because Rocco’s is a drive-thru (though walk-up and call ahead are also available), getting these sandwiches inevitably leads to a moment, in the car, on the way home, where one is forcibly trapped in the car with the taunting aromas of sandwich bliss. As the smell of seared beef, melting cheese and freshly baked bread all meld together and waft upwards, it is certainly tempting to pull off to the side of the road and tear right into one of Rocco’s delicious steaks.

Once a safe location for eating has been found, it’s easy to determine that these sandwiches ($7-8) are the most authentic Philly-style cheese steaks the Main Line has to offer. They’re 100% Rib-Eye steak, sliced thinly and cooked fresh-to-order (expect to wait a bit longer than you do at Pat’s or Geno’s), then folded into a fresh Amoroso-style bun. For those used to to the chopped steaks served up by most pizza joints in the ‘Burbs, this may take some getting used to, but 77 years of success at 9th and Passyunk certainly should convince you give it a try. The beef itself is excellent — with a rich, beefy flavor, and just enough fat to add taste without creating tough gristle. The bread is insanely fresh, soft and pillowy with just a touch of chewiness to hold things together. But perhaps the most amazing thing about this sandwich is how greasy it is NOT — and because of this, that it doesn’t sit like a brick in your stomach for hours after you eat it (like so many other steaks). In sum, it is an incredibly flavorful, fresh sandwich and one of the finest steak sandwiches we’ve ever eaten.

We also tried the Roast Pork Abruzzese ($8), which contained sliced roasted pork, sharp provolone and broccoli rabe, on the same fresh bun. This sandwich also had a great deal of flavor, with the pork gravy, cheese and bitterness of the greens all coming together in each bite. Though this sandwich was excellent, it is harder to gush about considering how easy it is to find a great roast pork sandwich in the suburbs (see the Pork Mile) versus how difficult it is to find an authentic cheese steak in the same area. (Interestingly, though we didn’t try Rocco’s chicken cutlet, it seems unlikely that they can beat Primo’s cutlet, available just down the street.)

Which brings us back to the cheese steak: Rocco’s has a great one. Enjoy it.

roccos steak

roccos steak

58 Responses to “Rocco’s Steaks, Paoli”

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  1. Matt says:

    Last time I was there the cup lids were Starbuck’s coffee cup lids, and the napkins were stolen from Starbuck’s as well. He also happened to short me on my change $.25. It all just gave off that vibe that this place was a goner.

    Too bad, they had great steaks about 85% of the time, but I never thought they would be long for Paoli/Malvern with that food and location.

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  2. TW says:

    Roccos is closed. I gave it about 10 chances, but the food was sub par. “Best cheesesteaks” my butt….

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  3. Jim in Paoli says:

    Did Rocco’s close?
    It has looked dark for the past week. There isn’t a sign that says they’ve closed.

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    • John W says:

      I drove by in the early afternoon on Saturday 7 May and I saw Rocco’s Mercedes along side the building and one customer I think waiting for food. I do wish Rocco would return to a real restaurant. He has been much missed since turning over Ristorante Verona to other people.

      John

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      • dan says:

        I would be happy ti invite you to try Ristorante Verona….My Name is Danny Fusaro and I would love the opportunity to show you all the great things we have done to Verona….And it shows…Come check us out. Thanks.

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  4. Chip from Malvern says:

    Stopped by for the 2nd time today. First experience was good. This time bought two cheesesteaks. One with onions and one without. Also bought two orders of fries since my wife and two boys loved Rocco’s fries the first time. Thought the service was friendly and fast considering it seems the steaks are made to order. Enjoyed the whole order. I am a more than satisfied customer and will be visiting again soon. Keep up the great work! I wish you success.

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  5. Cheeseteakhead says:

    I am a big believer in eating at locally owned dining establishments (see exceptions below***). this means when the man is hungry for meat, the man goes to somewhere local and not the wendy’s or burger kind nearby. so I have been going to rocco’s off and on as I see fit since they opened. I would say that the steak is good. My pet peeve with it is that with 1 out of 3 steaks I get, there are some large rubbery peices of unchewable fat. Of course in a chopped steak this would all be blended in. anyway, I don’t like that. rip that crap off before you serve it to me. I also think they could use a better quality steak. I consider myself the world’s foremost cheesesteak authority and I make them at home and I can make a better steak with Acme’s chip steak. the meat has too much of a roast beef feel to it. don’t get me wrong, it tastes good, real good. to those of you who say it is greasy I say to you wtf? its a cheesesteak not a salad! The roll is very good. although I preferred the carangi’s roll that they started off with , but the new roll has grown on me and I have accepted it.

    The point of my review here is to alert fellow cheesesteakies to my latest rendevous w/ said establishment. So I order provelone with, and today, because I have been doing quite a bit of exercise lately, rewarded myself with fries, which I have never tried at this particularly place. When I got the fries, they put them in upside down. I thought this was peculiar. if you have a cone of fries, and a bag, how could you accidentally put them in upside down. as I’m driving away, I’m trying to get to a fri (frie? fry? what is the singular form of fries duh?) and I can’t reach them, and when i finally got to a very unlucky fri to put in me mouth, it was cold! in fact, 3/4 of the fries were cold , as in , refrigerator cold. not warm. cold. the other 1/4 were hot. which occurred to me, they either microwaved their fries (I guess they don’t know how long to microwave their fries?) or they deliberately put cold fries in my bag. I now have $2.50 (!) worth of cold french fries sitting in my garbage can.

    OUt of principal, I am pissed off. Put a little quality control into what you hand out. I can go to wendy’s and burger king and get hot, good fries, but I don’t. I choose to pay higher prices to keep places like Rocco’s in business.

    I will continue to go, but they are on double secret probation. It is a damn good steak. I would like it to be more meaty though. I have had to buy 2 before to keep me nourished.

    In their defense, the owner (i am assuming it is the owner) was not there. I highly doubt he would have let cold fries go out the door in such a sneaky fashion to put them in upside down so I wouldn’t know about the cold fries until I got to my destination. If your fries are cold, just tell me please. don’t try to increase your revenue $2.50 by putting cold fries in my bag upside down. I am your loyal customer. I defend your steaks to my health conscious vegan sissy neighbors.

    My last pet peeve: What is with the slogan: “Best cheesesteaks on the east coast” What, is there some place in Utah that has a better steak? Was there a cheesesteak contest only for east coast establishments? Why not go ballsout and say best cheesesteak in the world? the universe? the country? I digress.

    ***exceptions: five guys for burgers – until someone local can duplicate this insane madness of perfection.

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  6. joe says:

    It seems like we are comparing two different types of sandwiches in these reviews. Depending on how you like your steak you might find this to be the best or the worst sandwich you have ever had. If you are into the 9th street sandwiches you will find this to be 100 times better than what you get get in town without the wait. I find the “american wit” fantastic. I like eating them two at a time!!!!!!!!! highly recomend rocco’s in paoli. Not to be confused with rocco’s in exton which is the best pizza place in the world.

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  7. Doug says:

    one word – garbage. pork was flavorless and broc rabe was awful. cheesesteak was greasy and had no flavor. if you’re going to do one thing, do it well. they don’t. surprised it’s still open.

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    • undisclosed says:

      sounds like Doug is a guy who ate Steak-um as a kid. I’ve been to rocco’s, and while everyone has different taste and preferences, they cook everything fresh to order, nothing sits under a hot lamp. I spoke with Rocco directly, and they use 8 ounces of rib-eye sliced fresh daily on every steak. Pretty tasty. My wife said the pork was good too, full of flavor with the broccoli rabe and sharp provolone.

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  8. mrbyamile says:

    These steaks taste ok, but not enough pay top dollar for lame portions. I eat alot of cheesesteaks and that really frosts me. 4 words… Go to John’s Pizza!

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  9. Kevin says:

    I have gone to Rocco’s for lunch about once a week and it has always been great. The cheesesteak w/ onions and wiz and the roast pork with provolone are the best by far in the area.

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  10. Charlie says:

    Stopped by Rocco’s today this has been my second time .

    Ordered several sandwiches to take to friends.
    We had a plain steak , Cheesesteaks one with wiz and with prov. and fries.
    Steaks were greasey again, fries were not hot and cooked to long.
    Sorry, but this was not an enjoyable lunch.
    My friends were disssapointed also.
    I thought maybe the first time I stopped it was getting the business going, had to work some things out.
    It seems that there are still some problems .
    Will not be stopping back

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  11. Joe says:

    I met a friend there today to try out the cheesesteaks. They were a disappointment.

    The Philadelphia suburbs have made an art of the cheesesteak (for example Dokota Pizza Company in Wynnewood, PA) and this one just doesn’t cut it.

    The roll is weak, not enough meat, and the cheese is not chopped in. Everyone has their own preferences but I want a superior roll, plenty of meat, and great cheese/meat ratio.

    I hope they improve.

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  12. Bob says:

    Just went there yesterday closest thing to a south Philly cheese steak in the area. Will definitly be back next time I want a Cheesesteak and dont feel like driving all the way to Philly.

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  13. paoli paulie says:

    Steaks are ok! Probably the best in Paoli, much better than our deli or anything else I tasted.
    They could be better. I think they could have more meat in them, and i’m not crazy about the rolls. the roll/meat ratio is in favor of the bread.
    I liked their old rolls better.
    Their steak is cut like geno’s and pat’s, so if you like those you’ll like Rocco’s. don’t expect your typical chopped steak.

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  14. Dee says:

    Had the Roast Pork Abruzzese yesterday and it was excellent. Look forward to going back to try the cheesesteak!

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  15. Brooks says:

    I’m sorry, but anyone who references Pat’s or Geno’s as some sort of benchmark obviously has no clue what a cheesesteak should taste like. You’d have to be drunk or a tourist. Or both.

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    • mld says:

      so the people who invented the sandwich have no clue what it should taste like?

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      • ryan says:

        “I’m sorry, but anyone who references Pat’s or Geno’s as some sort of benchmark obviously has no clue what a cheesesteak should taste like. You’d have to be drunk or a tourist. Or both.”

        Agreed, best cheesesteaks available are in the suburbs, most from philly taste like garbage. They’re tough, the cheese isn’t mixed in and the beef is less than desirable.

        I’ve tried cheesesteaks from probably 30 different places, and not one from philly makes my top 5.

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      • ryan says:

        And I’m not sure I trust the people who invented it to make it when they have people making it who look homeless with a middle school degree (hi2u pat’s cheesesteaks).

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      • mld says:

        If a higher degree was a qualification for a good line cook, most fine dining restaurants in this country would be in trouble…

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      • Brooks says:

        Are you really arguing that Pat’s and Geno’s are the best available cheesesteaks in Philadelphia? You’re about to be laughed out of this whole argument. Do you live here? Your opinion would be in the minority my friend. There are numerous websites dedicated to grading/evaluating cheesesteaks – Pat’s and Geno’s are regularly panned for their small size, high cost, and overall quality in relation to the superior alternatives found all over the city and region.

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      • Samantha says:

        I have been all over for Cheesesteaks as well and have repeatedly gone back or ended up back at Geno’s with varying disappointments. One that seems to overlap is the quantity. They may use ok meat and oil that sanction as “quality” ingredients but their meat is lacking to ever fill up the bun, the only reason you get it semi-fresh is that their line stays full of tourists/yuppy people who think they are”B-A” for being in that part of Philly just for a mediocre appetite suppressant. Geno’s is lacking in quality and overwhelmed with flair. Boo Geno’s. Thankfully for me, I live in Malvern so Rocco’s here I come!

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    • David says:

      Just curious, but what is your baseline, then, for a a cheesesteak sandwich? Each person in the area has a preference for chopped or unchopped sirloin; but as a whole, the two oldest, most known names in the city that originated the cheesesteak, seems like a good point of reference to me. Personally, I like the unchopped ribeye, but that’s me. However, I think it is interesting that you have a different reference. I would like to try them too, as I am an equal-opportunity eater (much to my expanding waistline’s dismay)!

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  16. David W. says:

    I have been reading through these comments, and felt it necessary to respond to set some things straight. I do not place much faith in some of these “reviews” as they seem to be from people who have their own agenda.

    Rocco’s Steaks has an “open architecture”-ie, A LOT of windows. You can actually, if you get out of your car (park on the side of the building, I did) see your sandwich being made! If you do this, you would see that the meat is grilled ONLY when a sandwich is ordered! It does NOT get sliced (which dries our the meat) and left in a heat lamp or get microwaved! You would also notice that when they grill, they use 100% Olive oil, from Italy; not grease, lard, or anything else. Also, folks, I am especially fond of their steaks, so I have been back many times. EVERY time, there is 9 pieces of this wonderful Top Round (NOT Sirloin) on every sandwhich I ordered, and the cheese, whether Provolone, american, or Wiz, is put directly into between the layers of meat! I see some people complaining, even mentioning other establishments (Our Deli-what a joke, I tried their steaks twice, both times, I left 3/4′s at the table, paid the waitress and left! If the person who wrote this about Our Deli being superior, is reading this, I am sure that Rocco would have no problem doing a taste test with random people!

    I understand that each person has their own idea of what is a perfect steak, however, not everyone is going to like it the same way! Personally, I enjoy the crisp edges and soft center of the whole steak slices, not the grisly and dried out shredded beef, the makes me feel like I just a “Steak-um” sandwich! This is exactly why there is Pat’s and Geno’s!

    Personally, I have had cheesesteaks all around the country, including local favorites like Gaetano’s in NJ, Primo Subs, the Peppermill, Capriotti’s, Our Deli, etc. Some of these have been better than others, but I prefer Rocco’s steaks the best. I reside in Glenmoore, so it is quite a hike to Malvern to get them, but I do it, because I enjoy them. Although, now that I think about it, I never did try their Chicken Cheesesteak…well, I guess I am going there today.

    If there is something about the sandwiches that dissapoints you, did you by chance let the staff know, and allow them to remediate, or did you just bop online because it is anonymous? If I don’t enjoy something, I at least let the staff know. If that is the way they serve something, then I remember that.

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  17. JP says:

    Great steaks. The real thing like Pat’s and Geno’s not the junk served at Pepper Mill or Our Deli.

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  18. Kate says:

    Rocco never owned Ristorante Verona…Investors…Investors…The new owners are tremendous.

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    • undisclosed says:

      sounds like Kate is one of the “tremendous new owners”. Fitting name for a bunch of girls looking to smear Rocco’s steak shop.

      I’ve been to Rocco’s new steak shop. I’m a local restraunt owner, we don’t sell steaks, which is why we tried and agreed that Rocco’s is a very good sandwich, regardless if your taste is for steak, chicken or pork.

      Guys, watch what you say and how you say it. This is not the forum for to air your petty complaints. How is Verona doing anyways these days? I heard sales are at a record low. Karma….ever hear of it?

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      • Dan says:

        Please take the time to remove the folks that believe that Kate is the owner of Ristorante Verona. That is not true and we are a fan of all local businesses. And as far as “record Lows” …..we are doing fine and are looking forward to a great year. Thanks for your concern.

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  19. Craig from Malvern says:

    Save your money, go to Our Deli or Anthony’s in Malvern.

    Roll was great. There’s an 1/8″ piece of fat on every large course piece of meat. Not much of it either, and the cheese is just placed on the roll next to the meat where it really doesn’t melt. The cheese ends up semi-transparent and limp. The meat Geno’s uses is soo much better, or at least they care enough to trim the fat off it. My wife nearly lost it, when she saw the meat while attempting to put ketchup on it.

    The meat wasn’t even hot, despite the fact the establishment had two customers before us. For us the sandwich was not enjoyable. We ended up sharing it with the dog, the dog loves roccos!

    And the fries, you really don’t want wiz, even if you pay for it! We ordered fries with cheese wiz, they forgot the wiz. I called up and told them, It cost me a $1.25 for no wiz! An uncaring snotty girl said it wouldn’t happen again, then hung up. She’s right, it won’t happen again.

    Never again. Oh, and you can keep your $2 bottle of cut-rate 16 oz water too.

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  20. Chip from Paoli says:

    I had one of these cheesesteaks tonight. The roll was good, and the cheese was fine. The meat was the problem. It had big slabs of meat, rather like a roast beef sandwich, instead of chopped meat of a normal cheesesteak. It looks like a decent cut of meat, perhaps thought to be too good to chop up. Maybe the thought was that it would have a higher perceived value because you can see the quality of the cut of meat, rather than the (implied) cheap meat chopped and tenderized that is in an average cheesesteak. In any case, it fails. The reality is that a cheesesteak needs to have the meat chopped up to have the meat and cheese blend properly. Disappointing. In the immortal words of R.E.M. “Don’t go back to Rocco’s, and waste another meal.”

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    • mld says:

      You lost me Chip – the classic Philly steak (Pat’s, Geno’s) isn’t chopped.

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    • Tom says:

      As Chip said…”cheap meat chopped and tenderized that is an average cheesesteak.”. The key word there is “average”. As MLD points out, a real Philadelphia Cheesesteak, like Pat’s or Geno’s or Steve’s Prince of Steaks, is not chopped. Pizza joints and deli’s chop their meat because the meat is of poor quality.

      Rocco’s does it right.

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      • Chip in Paoli says:

        Gentlemen: point taken. To be clear, having had both, neither Pat’s nor Geno’s is what I like in a cheesesteak. Our Deli is pretty much my ideal, and by your description it’s not the “classic Philly steak;” we clearly have different standards, and yours are likely more authentic to the South Philly Pat’s/Geno’s model.

        It will be interesting to see if that model works on the Main Line. With so many supporters on this board, all of whom are clearly different people unaffiliated with Rocco’s, how could it fail?

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      • SteveR says:

        you guys still don’t have it correct! Pat’s chops thir meat, Geno’s does not, Jim’s chops, Tony Luke’s does not. This is but one factor to the differences in cheesesteaks. The quality of the rib eye is not the only factor to determine when it is or is not chopped.

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      • mrbyamile says:

        To say that a “real” Philly steak is one that’s NOT chopped meat.. like Geno’s or Pat’s? Ok granted. So maybe a so-called real Philly steak isn’t the best steak. In my humble opinion, a well made “chopped” steak sandwich is way better any day. I consider the original as the rough draft and the chopped style as the improved version. As for Rocco’s, the steaks are pretty good, but having eaten steaks from many places, I say if you are gonna charge premium prices (which they do) then don’t skimp on the portion. That totally made me a one-and-done customer there.

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  21. jen says:

    Hmmmmmmmm does Peter work for Rocco’s?? Sounds like it!

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  22. Peter from Philly says:

    I think this is one of the best cheesesteaks i’ve ever had. Believe me, I tried their steaks day 1 and then again yesterday, and there’s no comparrison to any of the chop shopes that serve up some $1/lb sirloin. This meat is seasoned and delicisios, and would put this place up against any. I’ve also tried the roast pork, and to me, how to tell a good roast pork sandwich is how much juice the roll retains. Very tasty and highly recommended from a guy who has lived in Philadelphia and tried them all. Don’t believe what all you hear on these “gripe” boards. Go try for yourself. Carangi has been around forever and makes the best bread in the area.

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  23. Charles says:

    (January 3, 2010, 4PM) – I stopped through the drive through and found the service friendly, but the Cokes were flat and the Cheese steaks were poor quality. Meat was room temperature, onions were same and the cheese was cold. Bread was nice but again, not warmed through on top the steak. Clearly the steak was not cooked on order but assembled from precooked meat. Disappointing sandwiches for price! I don’t see many return customers if this is the standard fare. Several other venues in the area make a better cheese steak that is fresh off the grill. One does not need be a chef to know how to make a good cheese steak. I will not return nor recommend.

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    • Peter from Philly says:

      sounds like you just like to complain, or work for a local chop shop

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      • Peter from Philly says:

        pre-cooked meat? I watched them slice it in front of my own eyss through the front window as I ate my sandwich. one does not need to be educated to make a post like that

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    • David W says:

      I too, observed my sandwich being made. I do NOT work for the establishment, but COME ON, how can you NOT see the sandwich being made! The entire building has glass windows! When I pull up in my SUV, I can look down and see EVERYTHING, from the meat being grilled, to the lady putting my order through the cash register! Get a life, people, and if you haven’t been there, sounds like they are better off without your business!

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      • ryan says:

        “Get a life, people, and if you haven’t been there, sounds like they are better off without your business!”

        I bet they’re not better off without our business as that strip is a revolving door of failed businesses!

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  24. Patty says:

    I agree with the Roast Pork Abbruzze – Fantastic! Going back tomorrow to try the cheesesteak.

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  25. Tom says:

    Finally a decent, Philadelphia-style cheesesteak on the Main Line. This is not your typical pizza parlor style, chopped into oblivion cheesesteak. Its the type you would find in Philly, at Pat’s, Geno’s, Steve’s, etc…And they have cheese wiz…which is a must for a real cheesesteak. I have to disagree with TJ…Rocco’s was much better than John’s Pizza in Frazer, or any local pizza place for that matter.

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    • Brooksiedj says:

      I’ll have to disagree that cheese wiz is a must for a real cheesesteak. I’d rather have actual cheese (American or Provolone) than reprocessed paste. Real food is real food. I’ll take a John’s Village Market, Phil’s, or Our Deli cheesesteak over Rocco’s.

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      • Peter from Philly says:

        Rocco’s serves their American cheese melted down just like whiz is melted. all I do is eat steaks, and because they cook every one to order you know you’re getting it as fresh as possible. that’s all folks. enjoy

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  26. Rita says:

    Stopped in on Friday and had the Roast Pork Abbruzze which was out of this world. It had so much flavor, nice and hot, and just the right portion. Top notch! Can’t wait to go back.

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  27. Joan says:

    One of the worst cheesesteaks I have ever had in Pa. 4 ounces of meat. Not chopped but whole pieces of meat(steak ‘ums?) Meat lost in the roll. Roll is very good. oh well

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  28. TJ from Malvern says:

    I stopped in tonight…Like Pats or Ginos in Philly. Meat was a little fatty and not much of it. Not bad if you like this kind of steak (sliced meat and cheese wiz) but more bread than meat and had to look hard for the cheese *I ordered provolone…Our Deli down the street and John’s in Frazer are far better.

    Frys where good.

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  29. Jenny says:

    Give me a break how do you go from fine cuisine to cheesesteaks???

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    • David W says:

      I would think it is easy. I mean, running a fine restaurant requires a great deal more of management and stress, then a specialty food business. In this type of role, you only make a small amount of products, but make them the best way you can. Smaller staff, smaller overhead, less stress, less time away from home, etc.

      I could be wrong, but if I was getting bored with the same thing I have been doing my whole life, and I wanted a break and more free time, but still make money, I would do the same.

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  30. Jim says:

    Any idea when it will open ?

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  31. Mike says:

    from what’s being said around town we’ve heard this will be a top notch cheesesteak, and expect nothing less from this gentleman who has been putting quality food on the table for as long as we’ve known him.

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  32. John from PA says:

    It is neither. It is a new venture by Rocco Desiderio that formerly owned Ristorante Verona in Frazer.

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