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(Updated July 2015)
There’s something about a grilled steak with melted cheese on a torpedo roll that satisfies any carnivore’s cravings. Surprisingly, it’s not sandwich that was popular outside of the lower Delaware Valley until Philly marketed its version to the rest of the world. Now most of the world thinks of the “Philly Cheese Steak”. However, there is a Trenton variant that is authentic and delicious in its own right.
The Pete’s Steak House we find here traces its origins to the original Pete’s Steak House on Hudson St in Chambersburg. The owner here was one of two partners in the 3-store chain that had eventually developed from that store. When the partners decided to close Chambersburg, they split: one took this restaurant in Ewing, the other took over Pete’s Steakhouse Tavern in Hamilton. The food, menu, and decor of this restaurant is nearly identical to what you used to find in the ‘Burg.
The original Pete’s was founded after WW II by a former army cook. The foundation of its business was serving sandwiches to workers between shifts at the Roebling Wirerope plant. Pete’s claims to have independently invented the steak sandwich. Whether you believe that or not, the key difference between a Pete’s sandwich and a classic Philly cheese steak is that the Trenton-style sandwich keeps the steak more or less intact; whereas the steak in a Philly cheesesteak is always chopped up at the end of the grilling process.
Whatever the differences, Pete’s delivers a REALLY GOOD Trenton-style Cheesesteak even if it is in Ewing.
- Pete’s uses fresh-sliced, high quality steak, not a preformed, frozen slab of shaved beef.
- Like a “Philly” cheesesteak, Pete’s will top your sandwich with Provolone or Cheese Whiz. However, they’ll also top it with American or mozzarella. But, hey, this is Trenton-style! We recommend the Provolone, which has a lovely, sharp kick, and costs no more than American.
- Pete’s offers a range of fixings including onions, mushrooms, and peppers. The mushrooms are fresh (never canned). I’ll quibble slightly with the onions, which I prefer grilled raw. Pete’s pre-grills the onions, then warms them on the grill before serving.
All that said, Pete’s sandwich is great, if a tad small. Hungry guys will probably want to order the larger sizes.
In addition to cheese steaks, Pete’s serves authentic tomato pies (by the slice, or made to order). Pete’s has been nominated for our Tomato Pie competition, so we’ll have more to say about this soon. They also have burgers, fish and chips (freshly batter dipped fish filets, Wed-Fri only), and do a variety of other sandwiches including an Italian roast pork with broccoli rabe.
Prices are reasonable for the quality.