Eats: Queen of the Cheesesteaks

Watch out, Pat’s, Geno’s, Steve’s and Jim’s. A new woman on the block wants to bust up the cheesesteak boys’ club




THE QUESTION IS, are Philadelphians ready for the next level? If the first-day sales — more than 1,000 cheesesteaks — at WoW’s second location are any indication, we are. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. After all, Pat’s, Geno’s — the big boys — aren’t going away. They’re our gastronomic Liberty Bell. We’ll still make our late-night, pre-game and post-bar pilgrimages to pay homage to our cholesterol-peddling landmarks. We’ll still define ourselves by our unflinching reaction when the massive, tattooed guy at the counter glares instead of asking, “May I take your order?” But when we’re late for our kid’s tennis match, or after the Phils go into extra innings, or, if all goes according to DiZio’s expansion plans, when we’re driving home from a morning meeting in Cherry Hill, we’ll pull into the parking lot of a Wit or Witout, and we’ll pay six bucks for food that satisfies both our ancestral cravings and our modern sensibilities.

Perhaps DiZio is exactly what our sloppy, workaday culinary masterpiece needs to break into the big time, to develop beyond mom-and-pop shops, to expand beyond the Delaware Valley. Could be she’s the one entrepreneur who’ll see beyond the grease and attitude to a bigger picture. Maybe all the cheesesteak needed was a good woman. Maybe when Nicole DiZio says, “You know, there’s no queen of steaks yet. I’ll be it,” she’s only half joking.