Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cheesesteak #1: Waterloo Pizza Delivers

If you're going to start a Tour de Cheesesteak, you might as well gas up the car at the same time.

In February, I asked the question "Where do you get a good cheesesteak?" and got dozens a terrific answers from Howard County to Baltimore and beyond.  I started in central Columbia at Waterloo Pizza & Subs in the Exxon station on Little Patuxent Parkway.

Did the Waterloo cheesesteak have what I wanted?

Lean sliced beef?  Check.  Mushrooms, onions and hot peppers?  Check.  Soft roll?  Check -- plus bonus points for a toasted roll.

That's a good sandwich.  A large helping of well-done meat, juicy enough to have flavor without turning greasy.  Provolone melted through the meat, and vegetables on top were generous without distracting anyone from the point that I had ordered a cheese steak sandwich.

I ate happily in my car, although you could sit in the Exxon's waiting area and watch television.  Even a small cheesesteak is a heavy sandwich.  I felt stuffed even without any chips or sides.  Waterloo isn't making a brilliant sandwich like Bon Fresco's london broil, but they do the cheesesteak right.

Is it authentic?  Probably not because I don't remember anyone toasting rolls on Chestnut Street.  (As you read this, guys in Eagles jerseys are drafting comments below about how Waterloo doesn't use the right bakery.)  But I love toasted bread, so the crisp bread actually made my cheesesteak by standing up to the meat juices and providing a little crunch.

This may take a while.  I'm past my prime when I ate multiple cheesesteaks and hoagies each week.  But the tour will roll through other cheesesteak suggestions.  People raved broadly with a few votes a bunch of local places, including Simmies in Columbia, Diamondback Tavern in Ellicott City,  and Philly's Best in Elkridge.  I was actually trying to eat at Philly's Best, but the person who answered the phone couldn't be bothered to give me directions.

Of course, the best gas station food around remains R&R Taqueria in Elkridge.  That's gas station food worth driving from anywhere in Howard County.

Waterloo Pizza at the Columbia Exxon
10611 Little Patuxent Pkwy
Columbia, MD 21044
(410) 730-3006

NEAR:  This Waterloo Pizza is in the Exxon station at Little Patuxent Parkway just west of the Columbia mall.  This is very near the community college, Howard County Hospital, and many Columbia offices.  This is different from the Waterloo Pizza just off Rte 108 in Elkridge.

Waterloo Pizza & Sub on Urbanspoon


Dave W said...

My wife and I love Waterloo Pizza. A friend of mine used to order Pizzas all the time from there when he would host poker or watching a sports event at his house. The pizza was great, I told my wife about it, she loved it too and we started ordering delivery of their other food items. I personally love their Meatball parmesean subs.

They also consistently have about the fastest delivery times that I have found for these pizza-type delivery places near Downtown Columbia.

Highly recommended....

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, that's not a true cheesesteak. For one, the roll is toasted, while the roll on a real Philadelphia cheesesteak (read: Pat's, Steve's, Jim's, Geno's, Tony Luke's) never is. Moreover, the presence of peppers is not typical of a Philadelphia chesesteak (onion, mushrooms, even gravy on a pizza steak, yes, peppers no). As you might be able to tell, I am a transplanted Philadelphian who has lived in the Baltimore/DC area for about 15 years (and in Howard County for the last 8). Unfortunately, despite staying on the lookout, I have not found a single cheesesteak in this area that comes close to the real thing. If someone knows of one, though, please share! :)

Anonymous said...

Ah, I need to read all the way down the article (I see now the mention that most Philly cheesesteaks are not toasted). Still would love to hear what folks think about recommended facsimiles of the real thing in this area!

Zevonista said...

No Whiz, no real cheesesteak. And TOASTED roll? Barbarian! :-)

I wouldn't bother with Philly's Best. It used to be our go-to, but they've really gone downhill recently. We finally gave up on them.

tacitus said...

But the cheese - does it have enough cheese to glue the meat together? That is the major failing of most Maryland cheesesteaks. Plus when I was in college near Philly 30 years ago peppers hot or green (NOT hot pepper relish) were perfectly good options. Cheese whiz I think is a myth instigated by touristy places; it might be the original but the many places I had cheese steaks nobody used cheese whiz.

perrik said...

My purveyor of caloric delights during my undergrad days in Philly offered provolone. Oh wow, now I am so craving a cheesesteak with lots of grilled onions and mushrooms...

But as a philosophical question, does it really matter if Waterloo (or whoever) doesn't serve a cheesesteak which adheres to some rigid definition of "authentic"? There is no appellation law covering cheesesteaks or Carolina pulled pork or cioppino. If I'm served a bowl of delicious cioppino which has king crab legs in place of the quartered Dungeness crab, I'm not going to rant about how it's not authentic. I'm just going to eat it and be happy.

(okay, the Amoroso rolls are a mandatory component, I'll concede that point!)

Jim said...

Ledos makes a pretty good cheese-steak. They have various types so you can go with a true Phily-style one or go with the green pepper, onions, etc.

Anonymous said...

There is no place in Howard County to get a real Philly cheesesteak. The Amoroso roll is a must have though. I do like it toasted too. Not in HoCo, but Fratelli's in Hampstead is one of my favorite cheesesteaks in MD.

Anonymous said...

Magerk's in Federal Hill and Bel Air is the only place that comes close to a real Philly cheesesteak

Anonymous said...

I've never understood the attraction of pouring melted cheese over perfectly good chopped steak. HOWEVER, I do wish I could find a decent Pepper Steak Sub! I usually have to order a cheesesteak, tell 'em to LEAVE OUT the cheese (which REALLY confuses 'em), ADD grilled green peppers, onions, etc. I'm still looking.

Anonymous said...

Going somewhat off topic here: are there any good places to get a good sausage and pepper sub in HC? I'm talking about grilled italian sausage on a sub roll, piled high with fried peppers (and possibly onions).

It's typicaly a street-vendor type food, but I've seen it offered at
hot dog shack" type places as well.

As for Waterloo pizza - I know this is talking about the Columbia one, but is the one near 108 related at all? That one is a lot easier for me to get to for a lunch break.

betsy said...

Cheesesteak, eh. I'll see your cheesesteak and raise you a really special PA speciality, the pork roast sandwich at Tony Luke's.

perrik said...

"Going somewhat off topic here: are there any good places to get a good sausage and pepper sub in HC? I'm talking about grilled italian sausage on a sub roll, piled high with fried peppers (and possibly onions)."

Not quite the classic street version but darned addictive - the grilled sausage sandwich at Kloby's. I didn't love the roll it came on, but the sausage/onions/peppers are tasty.

FYI, I just noticed that the former Pita & Rye space in Maple Lawn (the space close to Sidamo, around the corner from Looney's) is now a Jerry's Subs & Pizza. Maybe a franchise will do better than an independent, or maybe that store space is simply cursed.

Junior Barnes said...

"As for Waterloo pizza - I know this is talking about the Columbia one, but is the one near 108 related at all? That one is a lot easier for me to get to for a lunch break."

No, but there is some history there. The 2 owners were partners at some point. This is according to an employee at the one on Old Waterloo.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Perrik & Junior Barnes!

kevlar51 said...

Philly's Best has the best pizza in the Elkridge area and is very affordable. But for the 6 or 7 years I've gone there, I've never been happy with their subs.

Anonymous said...

I've never understood the attraction of processed cheese slathered over fried beef, AKA "Cheesesteak"

A nice "Steak & Cheese" is something I can relate & comment on.
I grew up eating them from Continental Caterers in Kensington.
No others ever eclipsed those for my taste buds.

In High School, friends introduced me to "Ernies". A bit greasier to say the least, but quite tasty.

I also thought the original Jerry's in Wheaton, as well as a few of the franchises, did a very acceptable S&C sub.

dzoey said...

I agree with you, the original Jerry's in Wheaton made a number of good subs and it was a real treat when I was little. I've always loved the fries. The Jerry's up on Rt 40 is not bad and they still serve the same fries, yum.

By the time I moved to Columbia, my cheese steak days had passed, and I on those rare occasions that I get one, none have been able to compare with Philly or New York. I was not impressed with Philly's best near the Thunder Hill pool. Too greasy and the place could be cleaner.

Anonymous said...

JMO but I *much* prefer the Wiz to provolone which tends to bind with the meat and creat uneven clumps of meat/cheese/onions while eating.

Magerk's regular cheesesteak is ideal, in that regard, and a perfect knockoff of Pat's.

Alicyn DelZoppo said...

I have not been there yet, but there is a place in Cross Street Market in Fed Hill that is supposed to be authentic - with shipped in bread from Philly. It is called Hot Corner Lee's.