I RECENTLY WROTE AN ARTICLE IN SOUTHERN GRIT MAGAZINE ON THE GRILL AT GREAT BRIDGE. I REVIEWED WHAT I CONSIDER TO BE THE BEST PHILLY CHEESESTEAK IN HAMPTON ROADS. GO HERE TO READ IT, OR SEE BELOW.
The last time I had a cheesesteak was in Philadelphia when an area native took me to her favorite spot and she said it was one of the best. It was counter service only and in a not so charming location, but because of that I was hopeful they were serving up gems inside. I remember being asked if I wanted it “all the way”; I answered yes, but had no idea what to expect. An edible masterpiece came out on toasted bread filled with tender meat, peppers, onions, and provolone cheese. Years later and with frequent online browsing, I had yet to find a place in Hampton Roads that was serving anything that halfway resembled what I had in Philly. But the day came when I was scrolling through Instagram and saw The Grill at Great Bridge.
Located in the Great Bridge area of Chesapeake, The Grill has been open for almost 25 years. Although there had been a lot of positive feedback and awards on their side I was skeptical and questioned if Chesapeake residents really knew what a cheesesteak was supposed to taste like? (s/n I am a resident of Chesapeake).
On a Sunday afternoon I went, and like the Philly spot the location was simple and unassuming. There are a total of 5 tables inside, and a bar counter with about double the number of stools. Service was warm and inviting, with the owner Ann waiting on me and allowing me to order my food 30 minutes before lunch had actually started.
The sandwich came with onions and provolone cheese and since it was offered, I added mushrooms, green peppers, and a side of coleslaw. Although cheesesteak purists may say that Cheese Whiz is the best for this sandwich, as someone who isn’t a fan, I‘m happy that provolone is used here.
As I watched the shaved rib eye get grilled by the Philadelphia native and owner Gary on a flat-top just feet in front of me, a nearby patron grinned and said that I was definitely in for a treat. I wasted no time to dive right in once the sandwich was placed in front of me. The sesame seeded bread, which is shipped directly from Philly, is toasted on the outside and soft on the inside, but has substantial weight to carry the load of all the ingredients.
The first bite was sinful. The meat was tender, well seasoned and never did I feel like I was chewing rubber or pulling gristle out of my teeth. The cheese melted into every crevice of the sandwich, and the grilled onions were caramelized down but still had a crunchy texture in them. I would have preferred that the green pepper had been cooked longer and for the mushrooms to be cooked less, but neither took away from the flavor of the sandwich. My goal was to only eat half, but excitement took over, and I devoured the entire sandwich in one sitting.
I put my foot in my mouth by doubting The Grill at Great Bridge’s ability to make a good sandwich. People say that the city of Chesapeake has no good food offerings, but don’t doubt anyone that tells you the cheesesteak here is as close to the real thing as you will get. So make the drive, it will be worth it.