Miami Springs is home to some wonders between bread. Take, for example, the "outside is in" burger at JR's Gourmet Burgers or the fried chicken sandwich at Crackers Casual Dining. However, neighboring Virginia Gardens has a contender as strong as Rocky Balboa.
A Little Bit of Philly is home to a cheesesteak that will knock you out. The menu at this joint is small but mighty: pizza, stromboli, calzones, cold subs, hot subs, grinders, and party puffs. Relax, the last two are G-rated, though the language in the joint might require some parental guidance. It's a place to eat subs, drink beer, and bust balls. What else would you expect from a spot that channels the City of Brotherly Love?
The owners, Pat and Dave, are cool dudes who have brought a taste of Philly to Miami for the past four years. They definitely have their cast of regulars, which can feel a bit intimidating at first. However, they treat everyone the same and instantly initiate you into the club. You head to the back to order and will receive your food on paper plates with plastic utensils just like everyone else.
On our inaugural visit, we had to try the Philly cheesesteak ($8). It came sprawled across plates, piping hot, on a supersoft roll that had enough structural integrity to hold the sandwich together. The rolls come directly from Amoroso's, the leading roll of Philly since 1904. The thinly sliced steak is placed on the griddle, where it is quickly cooked and cut. It is topped with sliced provolone until the two combine into a beautiful partnership that rests on this pillow-soft bread. For more action, you can get caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms added to the mix.
The cheesesteak hit the spot, but we couldn't stop there. The meatball sub ($8) simply couldn't be missed. When the sandwich came out, its tender and moist meatballs were hidden beneath a mountain of mozzarella. The tomato sauce was sweet, and once again the roll sopped it all up while remaining intact.
As we got up to pay, we watched Pat turn plain rolls into party puffs ($8). Listed on the menu simply as "oven-baked dough with a bit of oil, garlic, and Parmesan," these little guys were so much more. Blinged-out and heavily fragranced, they deserve to be passed and shared among friends.
At the counter, we also learned that Dave and Pat have their own private beer label. Next time, we will definitely wash down our subs or pizza with one of those.
Hoping for dessert, I asked if they had anything sweet. Dave blew me a kiss, and Pat went to the freezer and returned with a chocolate popsicle from his own collection. I politely declined, but he insisted about "paying it forward."
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Despite bringing quality cheesesteak to Miami daily for the past four years, it is their wall of commendations from the city and local charities for their volunteer work of which they are most proud.
Don't let the machismo of the place fool you. They are just two really nice guys taking great food from a city they love and offering it to a community they love.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst