Like most regional delicacies, people are very particular about their Philly cheesesteaks. Cheez Wiz or Provolone? Grilled onions or peppers? Sliced or chopped steak? While the debates will likely never cease on the East Coast, one restaurant in St. Louis is serving up a cheesesteak that is worthy of bringing the discourse to Missouri.
During lunchtime at The Clover and The Bee, you'll find what executive chef Mikey Risk thinks is the best cheesesteak in the St. Louis area. After a trip to Philadelphia where he ate the sandwich day and night, he was inspired to bring the specialty to the Midwest.
"It's like all I ate for days were cheesesteaks," he says.
Around 2008, he introduced a cheesesteak to his menu at Ninth Street Deli, where he was working at the time, and he often made them at home for parties and other various get-togethers. He decided to try out cheesesteaks at Clover as a special, and the response was more than he could've expected. On the first day they were available, Risk says they probably sold 80 of the sandwiches.
"[Co-owner] Mark [Hinkle] was like, 'Okay, so, can we do cheesesteaks all the time now?'" he says. "It was never really the intention to go full-blast at it every day, but it just made sense."
Risk's version is a little more upscale in ingredients than your typical greasy cheesesteak, first subbing a traditional hoagie roll for a seeded version courtesy of the team at Union Loafers. The sandwich is then piled with shaved rib eye, caramelized onions, Mama Lil's peppers and – perhaps the most debated feature of a cheesesteak – your choice of cheese. Risk offers all three traditional options: American, Provolone and his own Cheez Wiz blend, made in-house.
"People are very adamant in Philly about what cheese goes on it," Risk says. "It's just a huge culture out there. They take it super seriously."
And while it's made with quality ingredients, Risk's cheesesteak is just as deliciously messy as a true cheesesteak. You'll want to keep plenty of napkins on hand when diving in, especially if you go "wiz wit."
Looking to try it for yourself? The Clover and the Bee is offering its cheesesteak during breakfast and lunch hours, Monday through Friday from 7am to 2pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 2pm.
The Clover and the Bee, 100 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, Missouri, thecloverandthebee.com