Neighborhood Joints

Philly Grub: Authentic Cheesesteaks in Little Haiti

Philly Grub in Little Haiti has been open only a little more than a month, but already the casual eatery has helped a Philadelphia native celebrate her 81st birthday with an authentic Philly cheesesteak. And it so happens the birthday gal knew co-owner Jen McCool's parents from vacations along the Jersey Shore 40 years ago. "We have customers coming from all over, and people from Philly are coming out of the woodwork," McCool says. 

McCool and Mark Scharnitz decided to open the eatery, located at 99 NW 54th St., because they couldn't find a decent Philly cheesesteak in Miami. Choosing the location was easy because Scharnitz already owned a building in Little Haiti that he used for his company Hearts of Palm Catering. McCool manages the catering business, and the two Philly natives met in Miami 15 years ago. 

According to McCool, the key to an authentic cheesesteak is the quality of the ingredients, including the signature Amoroso's bread roll that Philly Grub gets delivered from a bakery in Philadelphia. The "original Philly" sandwich comes with shaved sirloin and a choice of Cheez Whiz, provolone, or American cheese. Like all other sandwiches at Philly Grub, it costs $7.76, and add-ons include onions, peppers, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, and pizza sauce at no additional charge. Why $7.76? It's because the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776. 
I ordered mine with provolone, onions, peppers, and lettuce, with a side of ketchup for dipping. The meat was flavorful and juicy, and the cheese was perfectly melted. The bread was excellent and not the least bit soggy. McCool and Scharnitz clearly know what they're doing, and they're adamant about using zero preservatives and making everything in-house, even the pierogies ($2.76). The cheddar-and-potato-filled dumplings are topped with grilled onions and a sour-cream-and-chive sauce.

For vegetarians, there's the "Pheggie," consisting of balsamic roasted veggies topped with melted cheese. Other must-try sandwiches are the meatball sub with homemade meatballs with San Marzano tomato sauce and provolone, as well as the Italian hoagie, made with salami, ham, capicola, provolone, and lettuce, tomato, onion, and mild peppers drizzled with house-made vinaigrette. There's also a chicken version of the classic cheesesteak. 
Philly Grub recently began offering delivery via Delivery Dudes, but if you'd rather dine in, counter and communal-style seating is available inside. The alley behind the eatery also belongs to Scharnitz, and the owners want to host events and parties out there. They also plan to add daily specials and another sandwich popular in Philly that features shaved fresh pork with sautéed greens and provolone.

With James Beard-recognized Sullivan Street bakery coming soon and rents in neighboring areas rising, Little Haiti is poised to become Miami's next cool dining neighborhood. Philly Grub is at the right place at the right time.

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