To get to Frank’s Philly Cheesesteak bus in Haberfield you have to walk by Mister Gee burger truck. On a cold night when the icy wind whips down Parramatta Road, you might cast a wistful backward glance at the blazing heat lamps at Gees. But keep going. An extension of its Wetherill Park store in Sydney, the Frank’s “mobile” take on the Italian-American snack is worth your time, plus it’s hard to come by in Sydney.
A vintage Mercedes – painted with sports regalia and a mural of the Pope, and Sylvester Stallone as Rocky – is parked before milk crates (which double as tables topped with wooden planks). A flat screen, which plays baseball games, has been built into one side of the car. There's also a basketball hoop.
The long, soft hoagie roll stuffed with meat, onions and cheese is served hot and twisted tightly in paper so none of the juice can escape. Frank’s cheesesteaks are authentic and rival the versions found in the sandwich’s native Philadelphia.
“Philly cheesesteaks were invented in the suburbs of Philly in the 1930s by Italian immigrants Harry and Pat Oliveri,” says co-owner Carmelina Catanzariti. “Cab drivers were so sick of hot dogs and asked the Oliveris for something new. They picked up some thin rib eye at the butcher, grilled it at their stand, put it on a hoagie and melted some provolone on top. The rest is history.”
Each of Frank’s six variations start with the same base: two-millimetre-thick chunks of rib eye, fried onions and Cheez Whiz (a processed cheese sauce) atop a white hoagie roll imported from Philadelphia. Chef Adam Chobrowski says plenty of people add sauce, but he discourages it. “A lot of people go for barbeque sauce, which I think is an Australian thing. But I like mine with just melted cheese and maybe some pickles and gold peppers,” he says.
He’s right. The simple ingredients that top the soft-as-a-cloud white bread roll don’t need any help from barbeque sauce. They’re so good you’ll be compelled to keep eating long after your full stomach begs you to stop.
The sautéed-mushroom variety is a delicious choice, as is the pepper (capsicum) cheesesteak. The ultimate is the pizza-cheesesteak, which is topped with bolognaise sauce. Hold the scepticism – it’s the ultimate fusion of America and Italy and, surprisingly, it works.
For dessert there’s deep-fried Oreo cookies served with ice-cream peppered with extra biscuits. It’s a bit lumpy, but the flavour is incredible. “It’s like a doughnut,” says Chobrowski. “The cookie gets sort of melted inside the batter.”
Frank’s Original Philly Cheesesteak and Dogs
Muirs Prestige Smash Repairs
271 Parramatta Road, Haberfield
Thu to Sun 6pm–late