The mere thought of venturing to Philadelphia for a sandwich is enough to make some people cringe—not only is it a long drive, but the City of Brotherly Love’s citizens don’t exactly welcome New Yorkers with open arms.
But who wants to be welcomed into that city with open arms? Instead, let Philadelphia’s signature sandwich welcome you with open bread at Fat Ernie’s Cheesesteak Co. Much closer to home at 249-24 Jericho Tpke. in Floral Park, Fat Ernie’s is a Long Island original that disposes of the notion that great cheesesteaks are only available in Philly.
Fat Ernie’s allows customers to build their own cheesesteaks, with rib-eye or chicken, plus a choice of toppings—everything from hot cherry peppers to sautéed mushrooms—and nine cheeses including provolone and Whiz cheddar cheese sauce.
For a taste of the classic sandwich, order rib-eye with grilled onions and Whiz cheese sauce. Fat Ernie’s steak is sliced super thin, seasoned and grilled. The lean meat develops a flavorful crust on the flat top and is juicy without attacking the eater with grease, while the Whiz cheese sauce permeates throughout each bite with that singular zesty flavor only found in Whiz. And the long, hearty roll offers full support of the fillings, but it is pillowy soft to the bite.
If you’d prefer Fat Ernie’s to decide the toppings for you, order one of the eatery’s signature sandwiches, which are available in both chicken and steak. The Burn-N-Ern is a fiery entry, with jalapeños, ghost pepper cheese, hot cherry peppers and crispy fried onions. The sandwich is sweat-inducing and might prove too much for anyone who doesn’t consider themselves a chili-head.
The Buffalo Cheesesteak is another spicy offering, but it boasts that buffalo flavor most eaters are accustomed to. Best with Fat Ernie’s thinly slicked chicken, it piles on marble blue cheese, bacon and sautéed onions with classic buffalo sauce. Other signature sandwiches include Italian and Pizza cheesesteaks.
The Gold Coast Selection menu brings a decidedly richer price point, with Filet Mignon Cheesesteak, Kobe Wagyu Burger and Grilled Lobster Sandwich served on a Kings Hawaiian bun. Other choices include wings, mozzarella sticks, Angus beef hot dogs and the E-Z-E, a slow-roasted pulled pork sandwich on grilled sourdough bread topped with cheddar cheese, sautéed onions and a smoky barbecue sauce.
A must-order side dish is Fat Ernie’s Sidewinder Fries. This is what happens when you take steak fries and turn them into curly fries. Thick, spiraled cut, these fries are crisp outside and creamy potato inside. Don’t be bashful with these—feel free to load them up with chili and cheese sauce. One intriguing menu item is the Ricotta Grilled Cheese sandwich—it pairs especially well with mozzarella and looks and tastes like a calzone with no rules. The oozing, gooey cheese that overflows from the sandwich becomes delicious dipping fodder for those Sidewinder fries.
And for something sweet and refreshing, Fat Ernie’s sells Hershey’s Ice Cream.
Fat Ernie’s is open for lunch and dinner, with a walk-up window the only option for ordering until 5 p.m., when the dining room opens. And since Fat Ernie’s shares an outdoor space with an adjacent car wash, there is plenty of good people watching while you experience Philadelphia’s best export.
Fat Ernie’s Cheesesteak Co., 249-24 Jericho Tpke., Floral Park; 516-216-5223; www.faterniescheesesteaks.com