Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tony Luke's

Once upon a time, the Eagle Café at the corner of Fenn and Fourth in Pittsfield, Massachusetts served a great sandwich. The aroma of grilled onions greeted you at the door. We always sat at the bar and watched Nick, the proprietor, slow cook sliced onions on one side of the griddle and fry up Italian sausage patties on the other side. The two were married on a warm bun and crowned with a slice of provolone. It’s been at least twenty five years since I last entered the Eagle Café. Now I do my best duplicate Nick’s sandwich with fresh Mazzeo’s sausage patties, sometimes using the sweet other times the hot.

Today at Tony Luke’s in Philadelphia, I encountered a worthy companion to Nick’s sandwich: Italian link sausage (sliced into strips the long way), sautéed peppers and provolone on a hoagy bun. Outstanding.

Tony’s is definitely a guy place. At noon, I reckoned males outnumbered females ten to one. I’m told there are more women at night but I suspect they are humoring their dates after the game or a night on the town. The menu tells story: all manner of cheese steaks. Try the roast pork and broccoli rabe with sharp provolone. Perhaps as a sign of the times, the prices on the wall menu were covered. Everything is going up. Judging from the billboard riding on top of the restaurant, the owners still have an excellent sense of humor.

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