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Philly Fantastic 

Daglio's offers a little bit of brotherly love in the Old Pueblo

There are plenty of places around town that say they have true Philly cheesesteaks, but when Daglio's says they've got authentic cheesesteaks, they got authentic cheesesteaks, no bull.

First of all, there's the rolls, Amoroso rolls. These chewy morsels are the real thing and are flown in directly from the famous bakery in Philadelphia. They add a whole new dimension to all the sandwiches at Daglio's--which include another Philly favorite, hoagies.

Then there's the ambiance. There's only one table, so diners eat at chest-high counters. According to one of the employees, it's a "little bit classier" than places in the city of Brotherly Love. I think that means that there are stools to sit on, so you don't have to stand and eat your food. It works!

The décor is all Philadelphia as well. Hand-painted signs of famous Philly eateries cover the walls, along with photos of the city's landmarks, sports arenas and the like. There are also photos of the owners with famous people at a variety of events in and around Philly and Tucson. Info on the origins of cheesesteaks, hoagies and two of the most famous steak joints in Philly--Geno's and Pat's, King of Steaks--are there for all to read. And, for all of us folks who don't know the correct procedures in ordering steaks, you'll find written instructions on just how to do so.

And of course there's the food: cheesesteaks (made with certified Angus beef), hoagies, roast pork and roast beef sandwiches, veal and chicken cutlet sandwiches, fries and Philly wings. Plenty of the rest of the food is from Philly as well, from the potato chips to the sodas--Hank's, for those in the know--and even the bottled water.

We visited the tiny spot on an early Thursday evening. There was a steady stream of customers, some eating in, others taking out. All seemed to know the owner behind the counter, and he knew them. Real brotherly love-like.

I ordered a 12-inch cheesesteak ($7.95). John ordered a 12-inch Italian hoagie ($7.95). We both ordered fries ($1.50), but the counterman--again, this is the owner--suggested we split an order, because it's a good-sized amount. That alone is worth a recommendation, since in most restaurants, it's all about upsell, upsell, upsell. John ordered a Hank's Root Beer ($1.50), and I stuck with the Pennsylvania spring water ($1.25).

While we munched on the sweet and hot peppers found in tubs on the countertops, the owner stopped by and visited with all the customers. He explained to us how all the cheeses are from Italy, via Philly, of course, and how the meats and bread are flown in daily. With other folks, he talked sports and family.

Our food was put before us momentarily. One bite convinced us that importing the Amoroso rolls was genius in action! John proclaimed the rolls to be fabulous (and this is coming from a man who grew up eating Kimmelwick rolls--folks from the Buffalo area know what I'm talking about).

My sandwich, by far, was the best Philly cheesesteak I've ever had. The roll had a nice chew to it; the cheese was gooey and hot, and the slices of quality beef were tender, moist and seasoned perfectly. It has become the standard by which I will measure all cheesesteaks from here on in.

John's hoagie was also very, very good. The meats stuffed into the sandwich were capiocolla, Genoa salami, mortadella and Parma proscuitto, with few slices of delicious provolone thrown in for good measure. They were fresh and flavorful--again, the real thing!

Our fries, although the order wasn't quite so big as we thought, were just enough for the two of us, considering we had good-sized sandwiches as well. The taters were sizzling hot and tasty. If you love fries, you might want to have your very own order.

On our second visit, we had just rolled in from a long weekend in Rocky Point and were craving some good, hot food. John decided to have the 12-inch Italian beef with extra-sharp provolone and peppers ($8.75). And I opted for the 12-inch ($8.75) veal cutlet sandwich, Italian style (meaning with provolone, marinara sauce and peppers). I also ordered the Philly wings ($4.75). Again, we went with a Hanks' Root Beer and bottled water.

John's sandwich was OK, a little bit dry, perhaps, but the pretty red and yellow seasoned peppers added a nice touch. My veal sandwich fared much better. The cutlet was breaded and deep-fried. All too often, the meat gets buried under all the breading, and the frying turns a nice piece of veal into something slightly this side of a rock. I certainly can't say that about Daglio's sandwich. The meat was tender, and while not thickly sliced, could be found beneath the Italian-style breadcrumbs. The marinara sauce was obviously slow-cooked and lightly seasoned. I really liked the peppers, too. They added slight crunch and a nice piquancy to the salt in the rest of the dish.

The wings were outstanding! The six wings had a lot of meat on them and were covered with more of that delicious breading. And the "hot sauce" was hot and smoky (probably from a base made with the same chipotle Tabasco sauce that sat on the counters). All I can say is: Watch out, Buffalo; here come Philly wings.

There's talk that Daglio's may soon add home delivery service, and I seriously can't wait. Meals from this tiny eatery would be the ideal thing after a long, hard day at the salt mines.

More by Rita Connelly

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