Gino’s Original Cheese Steaks

On South Main Street in North Syracuse sits a little bit of downtown Philadelphia, PA.  Or at least, that’s what the folks at Gino’s Original Cheese Steaks would like us to believe.

Gino's original cheese steaks in North Syracuse, NY
Gino’s original cheese steaks in North Syracuse, NY

And here’s something that ticks me off: I’ve read a few comments online about how Gino’s (with an “i”) is a rip-off, and can not be affiliated with the place in Philly – which is Geno’s – with an “e.”  I’m sorry, but these people are morons.  I’ve never read or heard of them trying to pass off that they’re affiliated.  The names aren’t even spelled the same!  End of rant; now back to the review.

Gino’s is in a tiny little plaza, next to a fish restaurant.  At the back of the parking lot is a dance school.  I’ve been there (Gino’s, not the dance school) a few times.  Once was right at noon – I couldn’t help it.  Usually I like to eat lunch a little later than most folks.  It helps avoid the rush.  And I have to say that when I’ve been there, it’s been busy, but not mobbed.  Each time, I’ve eaten at the counter.  It’s an L-shaped bench with about 10 stools, surrounding the open grilling area.  There’s a sign there, something like “Noise warning – sandwich construction area.”  They’re not kidding!  Those metal spatulas chopping the meat on the grills get pretty loud.  If you’ve got sensitive ears, send someone else to pick up your steak.

They’ve got steak and chicken sandwiches (or hoagies), assorted toppings, fries or onion rings, and soft drinks.  That’s it.  What more do you need, pal?  Today I walked in behind a guy with three teenagers, each ordering something different.  I still got my hoagie in less than 10 minutes.

They have a long list of named sandwiches (Belly Filler, Fireman’s Special, and so forth) that come with an assortment of add-ons.  Lots of peppers.  You can get it with a few different cheeses, but if you want what they get in Philly, you get it with Cheez Whiz.  Most of the add-ons will cost you $0.50 to $0.75 extra.

They also import genuine Amoroso rolls direct from Philly, so you’re getting the same crusty bread many diners get down there.  For some people, it’s the bread that really makes it.  For me?  Eh, they’re good, so I wouldn’t change ’em out.

The place is small, but clean.  It’s a little too clean for a real, well-worn cheese steak joint, but I’m sure they’ll get there.  On the wall facing the counter are a few dozen pictures of people enjoying their hoagies.  You can look at those while waiting for your sandwich.

The staff is energetic and enthusiastic, and they seem to know their regulars.  But it’s not like they put their elbows on the counter and jaw with folks.  They’re busy!  They get you in, they get you out with a great cheese steak in your hand or belly.

Each sandwich with a soda will set you back about $10, but it’s big and you’ll be full for quite a while after you finish it.

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