The Dish: Pat's King of Steaks shares family secrets about their famous cheesesteak

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Wednesday, October 25, 2023
The Dish: Pat's King of Steaks' Frank Olivieri shares his family's secrets about their famous Philly cheesesteak
The Dish: Pat's King of Steaks' Frank Olivieri shares his family's secrets about their famous Philly cheesesteak

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In 1930, a Philly icon was born: the cheesesteak.

As the Pat's King of Steaks history goes, it all started when hot dog vendor Pat Olivieri cooked up something new for lunch.

"Pat got tired of eating hot dogs," says Frank Olivieri, the fourth generation of the family to run the business. "They say he sent my grandfather, Harry, down to the butcher right down the street to grab some meat. He cooked it up on the grill, he had some onions he put it on a loaf of Italian bread. And that was the invention of the Philly steak sandwich."

Frank has been working at Pat's, at the iconic triangular intersection of 9th, Wharton and East Passyunk, since he was 11 years old.

"It's this amazing legacy," Frank says. "I'm carrying the torch."

When it comes to expanding, it's something Frank takes seriously.

"I say to myself, 'Is this something that I just continue running a single store?' Because it's been that way for all these years?'" he says. "I don't want to dilute the brand."

Through the decades, Pat's opened other locations across our area, even as far as California, but all of those locations have all since closed.

Faced with an option to expand in State College, Oliveri decided to pull back and invest more in the original, iconic spot and elevate it.

"I just want to stay and do what I'm doing here and renovate the store because it needs to be renovated," he says. "We're two thirds finished with that. Come this winter, we're going to have a Pat's food truck out back because we have to close the inside. It's the original from 1930."

Once the upgrades are complete, that food truck will be a mobile Pat's.

"The food truck, at that point, will serve the purpose of being for private events," he says. "We're always asked to do weddings, fairs and stuff like that."

He believes the secret sauce to 93 years of success is consistency.

"It's been the same and in the same family all these years," he says. "The recipe is still the same as it was in the very beginning."

And Frank shared that famous Philly cheesesteak recipe with Action News.

The Dish: Pat's King of Steaks famous cheesesteak recipe

How to Make Pat's King of Steaks famous Philly cheesesteak

The star of the show is the cut of meat.

"You can use different types of meat, but the preferred meat by the real cheesesteak places in Philadelphia is ribeye," Frank explains.

His tip: ask the butcher to slice it nice and thin. And because you're using the good stuff, treat it like a king.

"We don't do that chopping thing where it sounds like a train going through a train crossing," he laughs, lightly flipping the meat on the grill.

At home, get a cast iron grill nice and hot. Sautee your onions first for seasoning.

"We do put oil on it," Frank says. "Our oil that we use is soybean oil, because it's neutral, and it doesn't lend any flavor to it. You could use a blended olive oil at home."

Once the meat starts to cook, just flip it once or twice.

"Nice and flat," he says.

Now, it's time for the cheese. If you're using a slice, that goes down first, on the "good bread" that's hollowed out in the middle.

If you go for the whiz, that goes on top of the meat. Finally, add any toppings you like, but this is Pat's original recipe.