Long Standing Charleston Area Eatery Is All About Keeping It Real
Jeff Walker, Restaurant Review
For over 65 years, covering three generations the Castellucci family, owners and operators of Philly’s in Oakbrook of Summerville have prided themselves on three things when it comes to the food and drink industry. First and foremost, they take pride in serving up the most authentic Philadelphia style cheesesteak sandwich in the low country, alongside incredible Italian entrees, all in a family friendly environment with emphasis on customer satisfaction.
In the 1950’s, the late Peter and Josephine (Josie) Castellucci began the family heritage back in their native Philadelphia. Three decades later the couple including their three grown children relocated to Goose Creek, opening Scampy’s in 1983, thus introducing greater Charleston to Philly style pizza, subs, pasta, and the iconic cheese steak. With son Stephen now at the helm, Scampy’s would soon open another location near Marion Square downtown. Before the 80’s ended, Marcucci’s a full scale Italian restaurant emerged on Sam Rittenberg West of the Ashley.
After seven years of success Stephen decided to sell all three locations and solely focus on the family’s true passion, serving up the best damn cheese steak Charleston has ever tasted. By 1991 Philly’s threw open their doors at the corner of Dorchester and Ladson Roads, in the Oakbrook section of Summerville. Within months the small eatery was packed during lunch and dinner, and a reputation was established, that still exists today.
27 years later, re-development of the older business park forced Philly’s to build a brand new location in the newly anchored Lowe’s Supermarket shopping center. The restaurant may be all shiny and new, but the tradition born seven decades ago remains. Faithful diehards as well as new converts flock to Philly’s on a regular basis, for one main reason, ‘the food’.
When they say authenticity is the key at Philly’s, they mean it. Two of the three main items come from up north. The thinly sliced premium sirloin steak hails from the ‘city of brotherly love’, with their rolls shipped in from Liscio’s Bakery in neighboring Glassboro, New Jersey. For over a quarter century Liscio’s has been the preferred bakery of thousands of Italian restaurants, pizzerias, and delis. Their motto reflects Philly’s commitment to the cheesesteak, ‘it’s all about the bread’. While the seasoned sirloin is the main attraction in the iconic cheesesteak, without a proper roll, it’s less than five star.
Several ingredients go into making a proper cheesesteak, and depending on your likes and dislikes Philly’s can prepare it to order. But if you’re a meat lover, it’s best to go full tilt and order the deluxe, complete with grilled onions, mushrooms and bell peppers, topped with your choice of white American or provolone cheese. Succulent, oozing with flavor, and incredibly tasty until the very last morsel is consumed from its wax paper wrapping. Three sizes, with the belly buster (17″ long) apt for ravenous appetites, or an ideal meal for two.
If you just come in for the cheesesteak you’ll be transported to ‘cheesesteak heaven’, but keep in mind Philly’s are of Italian heritage and they know who to make awesome hoagies, pastas, and salads. Their meatball sandwich will quite frankly blow you away. Oversized meatballs smothered in their age old tomato sauce, blanketed in provolone, and tucked in a Liscio roll. Magnifico!
Philly’s is a genuine Italian ristorante. The Classic Italian Sub (the only way to get it) is out of this world and un-matched in the low country. Starting with the Liscio roll, the classic is teeming with provolone cheese, Genoa salami, pepperoni, capicola (cured Italian meat), alongside your favorite veggies, seasonings, and the right amount of oil & vinegar. It’s a taste sensation like no other this side of southern Pennsylvania.
Looking for a nice medium sized sandwich with a whole lot of bite, I suggest your order off the ‘Meet the Kaisers’ menu. Three unique sandwiches on fresh made poppy seed kaiser rolls. There is the Ham & Cheese, the Turkey & Cheese, and the London Broil. All come dressed in lettuce & tomato, white American cheese, and their special Italian blend aioli sauce. Their deli meats come from Boar’s Head, a century old company known for their premium meats.
Are you a fan of pasta? Don’t visit Philly’s without trying their much raved about lasagna. While several of their pasta dishes are superb, their lasagna is outright their stand up pasta entree, and inspired from Mama Jo’s kitchen! Made fresh daily, it’s layers upon layers of pasta, ground beef, mounds of ricotta, topped with melted provolone. The over ample size is well worth $10, and comes complete with savory garlic bread. Favolosa!
Simply stated, Philly’s doesn’t skimp on any of their menu items. Every dish and every sandwich is made to perfection, and for no additional charge they add an extra measure of love to every order. You might pay a little more for their sandwiches than you do at the chain sub shops, but the difference is like comparing cubic zirconium to a real diamond. An eight inch cheesesteak will set you back $8.89.
Want another reason Philly’s sandwiches and pasta are worth every penny. Whatever you don’t eat, whether you carry it home or have had it delivered, and you don’t finish it right away, it’s a good bet it will last in your refrigerator for several days. And trust me, it will taste equally awesome after you’ve re-heated it. That’s the sign of quality products used to prepare awesome menu items.
Although Philly’s is the home of great grilled sirloin steak, non beef eaters can opt for a chicken cheesesteak. Vegans don’t have plethora of options but several salads can be made to order, and there is a very delicious Grilled Veggie Sub complete with black olives, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and white American Cheese. All the cheesesteak sensation without the beef. Try it you’ll like it! Affordable kids menu offer spaghetti, a cheeseburger, and the always popular chicken tenders.
I would be doing a dis-service to food lovers if I failed to mention their sides and desserts. Of course they offer seasoned fries, which go great with a cheesesteak, but if you want something different, than I suggest their Italian Pasta Salad or the Baked (yes baked) potato salad, complete with bacon, onions, sour cream and cheese. Both are ideal with any sandwich at Philly’s.
Five separate sweet treats (some handheld) align the dessert menu. If you’re going full tilt Italian for lunch, you might enjoy a cannoli, or the mouth watering Italian Rum Cake. The chocolate eclair or a slice of cheesecake are just as appetizing, but if you enjoy divine after dinner sweets, the Chocolate Toffee Kahlua Cake nicely fits the bill.
Sadly in April 2021, at the tender age of 62 Stephen went to join his parents in heaven. Together the trio are no doubt serving up the best cheesesteaks at a kiosk just inside the pearly gates. Stephen’s wife Cherie, and their son Stefan now oversee the day to day at Philly’s. They along with several long standing employees continue to provide customers the iconic cheesesteaks that have garnered Philly’s Best Cheesesteak in Charleston (City Paper) over 10 years running, earning Charleston’s Choice from the Post & Courier the past three years. Foodies know a great cheesesteak when they smell, touch, and taste it!
Their website perhaps says it best. The bread is from Philly, the meat is from Philly, and the owners hailed from Philly. If you’re from the ‘land of cheesesteaks’ you know how to create a cheesesteak. If you live in the Oakbrook section of Summerville or are just in the area for fun or business, I would highly recommend putting Philly’s on your todo list for lunch or dinner.
You’ll find Philly’s at 10040 Dorchester Road between Old Trolley and Ladson Roads, in the Lowe’s Food Market shopping center. Yes you can call ahead, and yes you can have your favorites delivered. They are open Monday thru Saturday 11am until 9pm, and are closed on Sundays for the employees to enjoy faith and family. Trust me they earned ‘Best Cheesesteak in Charleston’ for over a decade for a reason. For more visit their website at https://www.phillyscheesesteaks.com/
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