Drive-Thru Cheesesteaks And Meatballs For When You’re Just Too Lazy To Even Get Out Of The Car


In the past, I have bought lots of drive-thru hamburgers. Some of the best tacos I’ve ever had have come from a drive-thru (one particular drive-thru, actually, in Denver, but I was generally pretty drunk). In New Mexico, I could buy a bottle of Jim Beam, two packs of smokes, some beef jerky and a bottle of cold medicine all from the same drive-thru, which was exactly the sort of convenience I expected from my local 7-11.

And while I understand that it’s gonna be a LONG time before I can do most of those things in Philly, at least there’s someone out there looking out for my cheesesteak-based drive-thru needs. Namely, the folks behind Zio Gio which, no lie, call the cheesesteaks, meatballs, cheddar cheese fries and odd, hoagie-roll-mounted open-face pizzas they serve “Authentic Italian Street Food.”

But wait. Let’s take a step back. I’m willing to overlook that bit of advertising hyperbole because I honestly do think that partners John Marsella and Jim Nasuti might be onto something here. Their restaurant concept (which currently has one location up and running in Levittown, and is looking to expand into Southampton this summer) is unabashedly fast-casual. It’s got a dining room and service, so you can eat in if you want to, but it’s really made for those who want to have someone hand them a cheesesteak without them even having to get out of their cars–which is an admirable business model in this cheesesteak-y town, if not such an admirable quality among its cheesesteak eaters.

What’s more, it looks like Marsella and Nasuti (who both come from the restaurant industry) took their time with this and have come up with a product better than its delivery system might presume. They spent over a year working out of a test kitchen in Conshohocken developing their recipes and trying to capture the flavors of Marsella’s Italian Market youth. The sauces are made from scratch. The meatballs are hand-rolled. The pork for the roast pork sandwiches is rubbed down and then cooked for twelve hours. The Sunday gravy? Even that’s from an old family recipe.

So while the “Authentic Italian Street Food” slogan might be a bit of an exaggeration (by which I mean a crazy exaggeration, because I’m not sure there’s all that many streetcorner vendors in Rome or Palermo offering panini-style chicken parm wrap sandwiches and cheese fries just like Nonna used to make), I do think a case could be made for calling it “Authentic South Philly Street Food.”

Particularly if those drive-thru cheesesteaks turn out to be any good.

Zio Gio [Official]