Philly Cheesesteak at Jerry’s East Coast Flavor in St. Croix Falls, WI

James Norton / Heavy Table

I’ve had a lot of reputable versions of American standards on their home turf — lobster bakes and oysters from Maine to D.C., crawfish etouffee and gumbo in New Orleans, deep dish pizza in Chicago, Brooklyn bagels and pizza, sourdough in San Francisco, vat-fresh squeaky cheese curds in Wisconsin, (Eastern) Carolina vinegar-sauced barbecue, etc. and so forth. What I’ve never had is a cheesesteak sandwich in Philly, so everything you read from here down must be taken with a Pennsylvania-sized grain of salt and this author’s humble apologies.

There’s an unlikely roadside joint called Jerry’s East Coast Flavor in St. Croix Falls, WI, that claims to serve an authentic cheesesteak ($8.50 for a 12″, $7 for a 9″)  — you’ve got your choice of sweet and / or hot peppers, fried onions are in effect, the roll’s imported from a Philly bakery, and Cheez Whiz is both available and recommended as the cheese of choice. (I went Whiz wit’, of course, in keeping with the legend of this particular sandwich, and with the guidance of the shop’s profoundly warm and pleasant proprietress.)

James Norton / Heavy Table

Is it authentic? No clue. Couldn’t tell you. If you happen to know, leave a comment.

Is it delicious? Without question. The imported roll has a gentle chew and slightly zingy flavor to it that is assertive without interfering with the flavor of the savory, finely chopped meat-and-cheese paste that it cradles. The overall package is surprisingly gentle — while the onions, tomatoes, and hot peppers lend some flavor and a bit of crunch, the overall package is a warm, comforting, delicately textured bear hug on a bun. The beauty of the Cheez Whiz is that it becomes one with the steak, a rich but surprisingly understated dressing for the sandwich.

The sandwich is an unexpected note for the north country byway known as Highway 8, but a pleasant one, and this pleasingly pungent meatbomb will make the trek east a little lighter — emotionally, at least.

Jerry’s East Coast Flavor
Pizza and Subs in St. Croix Falls, WI

1942 Hwy. 8
St. Croix Falls, WI 54024
715.483.1405
HOURS:
Sun 11am-7pm
Mon-Tue CLOSED
Wed-Sat 11am-8pm
BAR: No
RESERVATIONS: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Pizza / No
ENTREE RANGE: $7-$8.50

James Norton / Heavy Table

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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12 Comments

  1. I grew up outside Philly, and even after 12 years in Minneapolis, I still miss the availability of a good cheesesteak. (My waistline is probably better for the absence, however.) The roll on this one certainly looks right, and if the bakery they’re importing them from is Amoroso, then it’s exactly right. The tomatoes are a bizarre addition – not saying they wouldn’t work with the sandwich, but I’ve never seen such a thing on a Philly steak.

    Oh, and just to dispel a popular myth: Whiz is not actually the default option on a cheesesteak. At the places I frequented in south Philadelphia, provolone cheese was a much more common choice. Whiz is always an option, but those who insist it’s not a cheesesteak without fake cheese probably aren’t from Philly.

  2. Philly transplant here, too. This looks like a hoagie crossed with a cheesesteak. I’ve never seen tomatoes or lettuce. (Or peppers, either, but that sounds good.) And I agree with Sam, legend or not, good provolone makes a better sandwich than Whiz.

  3. My dad is from Philly and he says it’s the rolls that make the sandwich, so if they’re importing theirs that’s probably a good sign. I’ll third the provolone preference as well as the tomato/lettuce questioning.

  4. Awesome that you followed up on my email to check this place out! Really, this place is a gem — the service is great, and the food is way, way above what’s expected for a sandwich place off a small highway.

    The Italian sandwich here is really great. And for people watching during lunch, there is no place better … it’s straight out of a story on Prairie Home Companion.

  5. We At Jerry’s East Coast Flavor want to Thank You for the nice review.. And No allot of Philly Cheese Steaks are not made with Lettuce or Tomato, But being from N.J. That is the way we Liked it and its Good with (wit) or with out (wit out) It.. But again Thank You.. And yes the rolls are shipped in from Pa.

  6. I will have to say this place is legit! As someone who has spent a lot of time in Philly and has had countless cheese steaks in South Philly and Center City I appreciate what Jerry’s has going on. In fact last October I had a chance to have a cheese steak from both Pat’s in Philly and Jerry’s in Wisco within 24 hours of each other. I liked Jerry’s East Coast better. The cheese whiz and tomatoes are just options they ask you if you want or not, and are not standard on the cheese steak. I highly recommend anyone giving it a try especially all of the Philly transplants if you ever make it up to St. Croix Falls. Cool to see this review and some new folks can learn about this place. I agree it is random where it is located, but that is what is so great about it!

  7. Steve (from Jerry's)07/18/2012Reply

    Sam, You are exactly right about the bakery in question that we import our rolls from.. There is no other for a philly.

  8. I agree with Sam and Dave L on this. I grew up outside Philly and sampled lots of Philly cheesesteaks. The pictures here don’t look right and the description doesn’t sound right. James, you need to get on a plane and get to Philly ASAP for a real cheesesteak. Then come back and school the Twin City masses.

  9. Ya need to come try them before ya say all that because these people are from Jersey and the roll is from Philly and the cheese you put on it is a preference.. And when is the last time you have been to Philly? Because this LOOKS Exactly Right.. And the taste is out of this world!! Try it before ya talk about it!!!!!! And I am from the east Coast Too.

  10. YouBetcha07/29/2012Reply

    I’m the child of two Minnesotans, but was raised here in Philadelphia. If you’re coming to our fair city, please STAY AWAY from Pat’s and the other places that get a lot of publicity for their cheesesteaks. A little poking around on the internet will reveal much better places, like (the unfortunately named) Chink’s. Even Oscar’s Tavern is leaps and bounds better than Pat’s. Now, . . . I wonder what lutefisk would taste like on a cheesesteak?

  11. hELLO, I just wanted to say thank you to James Norton, for telling people about us, I thought that was very nice, and very much appreciated. Since your article people have been stopping in from Minn., & we love having them come by. THANK YOU!!

  12. Author

    Our pleasure, Delana! The food and hospitality at Jerry’s East Coast Flavor were a highlight of our trip into Wisconsin.

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