The Guilty Pleasure: Philly Fries
Where to Get It: Spinelli's Pizzeria
What it Really Costs: Any time you’ve put toward working on your thigh gap.
We’ve all been there, right? The steaming, drippy mess of a Philly cheesesteak calls to you, but so do the crispy, salty, piping-hot potato sticks.
Few instances pair the two together, but on the appetizer section of the menu at the Pennsylvania-inspired Spinelli's Pizzeria in Tempe, you’ll find the best of both nap-inducing worlds. Find the Philly Fries above the regular French fries and below the Pizza Fries (perhaps another story for another time) — and options abound with your order.
The first question from your bartender/server is the most important: Will that be Cheez Whiz or melted mozzarella? Your instinct is the go for the latter, but if you're really trying to do this “Back East” style, go for the Whiz. A second query gives you the choice of adding grilled mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. This is also fantastic, but we usually opt for zero vegetables. Why pretend to be healthy?
You’ll first receive a paper plate, napkin, and fork, as if you’ve ordered wings, and it's then that you begin to wonder what kind of mess is about to arrive.
This hedonistic dish reaches you in a wax-paper lined plastic basket. Golden fries stick out beneath the pile of steak dressed in gooey orange cheese. The thing is heavily peppered (so if you’re trying to check your teeth later, we’ll help you out here: the bathroom is upstairs), making for an almost pretty, speckled glaze.
Digging in, you try to get forkfuls of equal parts steak, cheese, and fry. The searingly hot fries go down easier with a few cooling blows, and then the magic happens when you take your first full bite. As the plate loses its outer layer, the foundation has become soggy toward the middle of the heap. This is the second best and final part – Whiz-soaked fries begging to be pinched up by hand.
Spinelli’s has the atmosphere to match this “ah, fuck it” order. Tall ceilings are decorated with simulations of street art, and your chair or booth or bar top or even that pillar behind you is definitely covered in stickers advertising local tattoo shops and '80s punk bands. A painting above the bar shows a busy dining room table set with PBRs, and Grandma about to dole out slices of a massive pizza pie to her loving family. The soundtrack here is the Smiths, or the Cure, or something lateral to this, and you’re not mad about it. It’s also just slightly off Mill Avenue, but the people watching is still really good.
However, if getting messy in public brings on any level of anxiety, Spinelli’s offers daily carryout and delivery service from 10:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. Yes, in the morning. And if you’re planning on starting that diet tomorrow, the fried Oreos here might be a fantastic final send-off.
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