Mark Janbou, co-owner of Philly's Famous Steaks & Hoagies in Chandler, says his partner, 60-year-old Philadelphia-born Mark Blaing, has been making Philly cheesesteak sandwiches since he was 17 years old.
"He opened the place in 2002 and wanted to sell us the business in 2007," Janbou tells me. "But we [Janbou and wife/co-owner, Rita] wanted to keep him on so that he made sure the food stayed just like Philly. That's why our customers [many of them Philadelphia transplants] love us."
Hungry for an iconic hoagie bulked out with beef (from Philadelphia, of course), onions, a signature Philadelphia-style "gravy," and maybe some melted white American cheese or Cheez Whiz on a crusty roll? This is your place.
You could do worse than to start with the Original Philly Steak Sandwich ($6 for an 8-inch), a hearty hoagie filled with a well-balanced array of thinly sliced steak, sautéed onions, and a standout seasoned red sauce (also referred to as "gravy") on a very good crunchy-on-the-outside-but-soft-within roll.
Janbou tells me the Philadelphia-style rolls are custom-made for the restaurant by a bakery in Chandler and that the red sauce, a signature recipe of Blaing's, gets its flavor from ingredients such as tomato paste, oregano, peppers, and a few shakes of -- who knew? -- Sweet'N Low.
A small shop tucked into a strip mall on Alma School Road (on the northwest corner of Alma School and Ray Roads), Philly's Famous boasts a menu of nearly 20 kinds of cheesesteak sandwiches and hoagies, available in 8- and 12-inch sizes.
Philly's Famous Steaks & Hoagies 1250 North Alma School Road, Chandler 480-899-0756 www.phillys-famous.com
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday