Best Steak and Cheese Boston & North
Let’s talk the Best Steak and Cheese Boston & North. Unfortunately, most steak and cheese subs you buy are not good, let alone the best. Every sub shop has them, but is getting a really good one a thing of the past? We thought so until we did this show.
I found this description from Yelp funny and all too true. “A bunch of greasy waxed paper. Two cheap, thin halves of a bun, overflowing with very hot, flavorless, overcooked, under-salted beef. So much of it, in fact, that I had to eat the first half standing over the sink, as tiny, rock-hard pellets of blisteringly overcooked beef fell
out of the sandwich and into the sink. Was there mayonnaise? Maybe the spirit of some, ethereally dabbed onto the sad excuse for a bun. Were there hot peppers? No, not really. Not so much as you could taste.”
Is it always this bad? No, but close. In this area of the country we love our steak and cheese subs and we continue to order these substandard sandwiches hoping for the steak and cheese of years ago.
A steak and cheese sub should be a quality piece of meat that is shaved in house shortly before use. It is cooked in oil on a grill until done. Not browned and hard, just done. Cooked veggies are added to the meat to warm up. They should be soft but still retain their shape and color. Land O’Lakes cheese is melted on to the meat and veggies and the whole thing is carefully put into a high quality sub roll so that the cheese stays with the meat and veggies and doesn’t end up adhered to the bread. This is not rocket science, the sub shop owner has to care about serving the best quality product he can and be able to charge enough to earn a living. Don’t complain about quality if you aren’t willing to pay for it. Here is our list of the best.
We first tried Somebody’s Place for our breakfast episode (House breakfast sandwich is unique and delicious). So when we were doing our steak and cheese episode, I remembered they state they use shaved ribeye in their steak subs. Giddie Up! Let’s Go! Somebody’s Place has only been open about 2 years. The couple that own it, David and Erin Oliveira work hard to do things right. Somebody’s Place steak bomb is the perfect example of the sandwich. This is what you want it to be. Everyone should strive to make their steak bomb as good as this.
First the bread is a cross between a sub and a pocket, David calls it a socket. It is an extra wide loaf that he slits an opening in and loads it up with the filling. This may sound like it would be bready around the edges, but it is not. The bread to filling ratio is spot on. Next, he shaves choice ribeye daily. It is flavorful, moist and tender. David cooks the fresh veggies ahead of time to perfect doneness and heats them up with the meat. It is one of the more expensive offerings we had at about $11.00 for the bomb, but it is worth every penny. I am craving one just talking about it. Located at 38 Andover Street, Andover. Monday-Friday 6am to 8pm, Saturday 7am to 3pm, closed Sunday www.somebodysplace.com
Hornet’s Nest has been in business for over 45 years. The current owners, Dave and Laura Salvo, have been operating it for 10 plus years. The Hornet’s Nest is known for their steak and cheese. Perfect. To start with, Dave is using a high quality par-baked roll which he is then baking off himself. Next, he is using high quality beef loins which he is slicing himself every day. Then he uses only Land O’Lakes cheese, fresh veggies which he cooks ahead of time to perfect doneness. All of this makes for a steak and cheese bomb that is a delight to eat.
After we had this delight, we talked to the owner for quite a while. He is roasting his own turkey and roast beef for the sandwiches. He does do a handful of pizzas in the New York style which he sells by the slice for a dollar if you order a sub. Clearly that was an invitation to have pizza, and it was damn good. Homemade meatballs and chicken cutlets, house marinated sirloin tips and chicken are all excellent.
If you live anywhere near The Hornet’s Nest you should make this your new sub shop. We actually found this by a listener’s suggestion. He lives south of Boston and stopped in once and makes it a point to come back because it is so good. Located at 134 Park St, North Reading. Monday-Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday 11am-6pm, closed Sundays www.hornetsnestsubshop.weebly.com
Sonny Noto’s is an unassuming restaurant in Wakefield that has been around for over 40 years. You order at the counter when you go in and then sit in the restaurant and they will deliver the food to you. There is a small bar area that has a few craft brews on tap, bottled beers, and wine. It’s not fancy but nice enough with about 12-15 tables/booths. In addition to subs, they also have Italian dishes and plates like gnocchi, chicken parm, steak tip, chicken etc. We only had the steak bomb but other things looked good. I expect that we will be back to try some of them.
The steak bomb was the bomb! The meat tasted like beef and it was cooked perfectly. In addition. veggies were fresh and cooked to perfection, the cheese was melted throughout the meat and it was served on a delicious sub roll. Blown away, I went to talk with the owner, Richie Noto. He is using flap meat which he shaves in house daily. The cheese is always Land O’Lakes American and the bread is Piantedosi Artisan rolls. This is why Sonny Noto’s is making a great steak Bomb. They are using quality ingredients and cooking it properly. Located at 49 Water Street, Wakefield. Hours are Monday to Saturday 11:00am to 9:00pm, Sunday 12:00 noon to 8:oopm www.sonnynotos.com
Vic’s is a combo Bakery, Pizza/Sub Shop and Breakfast Café on the Dracut /Lowell line. Their Motto is “Home of the Big One” and that’s because their large sub is a full 18 inches long. We got a medium steak bomb ($9.25) which I think they list at 12 inches. I would have to say they are being modest. Usually a 12 inch sub is barely 12 inches end to end. This was a generous 12 inches.
Although the meat is purchased pre-sliced, it was not dry and the veggies were right on the money (canned mushrooms and peppers, fresh onions). The grill cook took the time to melt on the meat so it did not pool at the bottom of the sub roll. We did not need to add mayo. I would definitely come back and have this sandwich again. 1 Lilley Ave, Lowell MA Credit cards with a 10$ minimum Monday-Wednesday 10:30 am to 7:00pm, Thursday-Saturday 10:30 am to 8:00pm www.vicspizzasubs.com
Rondo’s is old school Southie and they don’t apologize for it. In a sea of hipster joints, it is amazing that Rondo’s is not only surviving but doing well. The reason is tasty, quality made subs for a decent price, with friendly competent service. Most people are getting takeout but there are several tables if you want to sit and eat. The steak bomb is probably the best in the city. They pile top quality, moist sirloin on a nice fresh roll with veggies cooked perfectly. The do use canned peppers and mushrooms but it works well in the sandwich. They’re a cash only establishment offering good value, as most subs are under $10. Located at 14 W Broadway, Boston Monday-Friday 7am-6pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, closed Sunday
Manne’s in Revere is a full service Italian Bakery that also has a thriving sub business. They offer a large variety of Italian breads, pastries, cookies, calzones, prepared foods, Sicilian pan pizza as well as a catering menu with gourmet Italian dishes in party size trays.
The steak bomb comes in 2 sizes, small ($4.25) and Large ($8.00). First, Manne’s bakes its own rolls for their subs. Ding, Ding! That’s a great start. The beef is purchased pre-shaved but they cook it so that it’s moist and not over done. They did use canned peppers and mushrooms, which is OK as it is better to do that than have under-cooked veggies. The problem here is that they use a combo of mozzarella cheese and American cheese on the steak subs. Had we realized this, we would have ordered it with just American. And dare I say, it just had too much cheese. Also, we didn’t know to specify a regular roll and it came on a braided seeded roll. The roll was delicious but not right for a steak bomb.
So, I can’t put Manne’s in the top tier for recommendations BUT I do think with a few changes to the order, mainly a regular sub roll and only American cheese it would be spot on. The employees are friendly and very helpful. In addition, you can go home with some cannoli and éclairs. Located at 910 Broadway, Revere Sub hours Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm www.mannesbakery.com
J & M Italian American Cuisine has been in business for many years in Saugus. The current owners, Greg and Boudy Domey have owned it for almost 3 years. In addition to subs, they also do pizza, wings, calzones, burgers and catering. Long known for their steak and cheese sub, the new owners continue the tradition with a solid steak bomb sub for $9.00. They shave rib eye every day and cook it so that it is juicy and not dry. Then they are using Land O’Lakes American cheese and fresh onions with canned peppers and mushrooms. Fresh is best, but I would much rather have canned peppers and mushrooms than under cooked veggies. It is served on a seeded braided roll.
A couple of things would elevate this to stardom. First, changing the braided roll to a regular roll and second, filling it a bit more. Having said that, I will point out that many shops on the north shore use a seeded braided roll so perhaps it is more acceptable here. Also, J & M is located in an area with tough competition both in price and the number of other shops in the area. He is not over-stuffing the sub to stay competitive and be able to keep his steak bomb at 9.00. My advice is to ask him to charge you 11.00 and fill the sub a bit more. Located at 340 Central Street, Saugus Monday – Saturday 11am-8pm www.jandmpizzaandsubs.com