Sunday, March 1, 2009

Inside Nick's for an Outside Beef Sandwich

The narrow streets of South Philadelphia are one way and just wide enough for four cars side by side. Only one lane is open, however. On one side, cars are parked along the curb as they might be anywhere; on the other side they are completely double parked. At eleven in the morning there were plenty of gaps along the curb while the middle of the street was still chock a block. How did the inside cars get out? It was a mystery. The system must work, somehow.

"Tony, what's your favorite sandwich shop?"

"For beef, it's Nick's. They start with prime steamship round, roast it and serve it on a kaiser roll with aged provolone cheese. You want it wet."

Tony Catelli's father's shop was located at the same intersection of 20th Street and Jackson in South Philadelphia. Tony knew what he was talking about.

From the street, Nick's looks like a neighborhood bar. We parked nearby on the single file side of the street. Inside it looks like a neighborhood bar, except for the carving station between the bar in front and a small seating area in back. Two guys were prepping the roasted steamship rounds for lunch.

"Can I order an end cut?"

"Ask for an 'out.'"

We sat in back and ordered french fries with gravy, broccoli rabe, peppers, and wet beef sandwiches all around. Sandwiches with and without cheese and one with outside beef. Our waitress was concerned about the order for the 'out.' First, it wasn't always available; second, it was spicier. It was available, it was spicier and it was excellent.

I would go back to Nick's just for the fries with gravy with broccoli rabe on the side. But I would be thinking about that outside beef.