Philly cheesesteak sandwich

Lillo’s Tomato Pies in Hainesport, New Jersey is serving Trenton-based cuisine. The restaurant, whose South Jersey location opened up earlier this year, serves a variety of classics, such as pizza, salads, and most interestingly, sandwiches. Why is that interesting, you ask? The most popular sandwich on their menu happens to be a cheesesteak.

  • A new contender?

    Lillo’s is a mom-and-pop shop opened by a married couple, both a former nurse and former iron-worker, who began this passion project in their backyard pizza oven during COVID. Their mission is to share the Trenton-style food they grew up on and loved. They recently moved to South Jersey as a means to spread that love to the wider New Jersey area, but one of their menu items drew Philadelphians to Burlington County, looking to prove reviews wrong.

    At their base-line, they are not a steak shop, they are namely, a tomato pie joint. Their cheesesteaks, though, have stolen the show. Served piping hot with melty Cooper Sharp cheese, fried onions, all on a seeded–GARLIC BREAD—roll, this cheesesteak is impressive enough to possibly be a contender for people’s all-time favorite cheesesteak. They definitely don’t skimp on the cheese, and every single item on their menu is served fresh, and therefore HOT.

  • They rapidly gained hype

    The popularity of their steaks landed them on local news channels, such as FOX 29. They are on-track to become a Philadelphia-area favorite, but is that sacrilege? An episode of ABC’s The Goldberg’s covered this issue perfectly. If your favorite Philly cheesesteak comes from Jersey, is it even a Philly cheesesteak anymore? Is it even valid? 

    Lillo’s isn’t trying to become your favorite “Philly” steak shop, though. Their restaurant shows that they lean heavily into their Trentonian roots. Photos on the walls show Trenton icons such as the Lower Trenton Bridge, and even the shirts on the employees proudly state “Straight Outta Trenton.” They are not trying to be something they’re not, so can Philadelphians at least accept them for that? Maybe. 

    Their cheesesteaks have been compared to the likes of Angelo’s and Dalessandro’s steaks, but they are not encouraging comparisons. No one from the restaurant itself has come forward daring customers to try to like their food more than another restaurant’s food. They are as authentically Jersey as it comes. 

  • A popular internet show even noticed them...

    Their shop was a recent stop on Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports’, tour of pizza spots in the area. He was there to try the pizza for his iconic One Bite Pizza Review internet series. In a surprise twist at the end of the review, though, Dave was told to try a cheesesteak. While he is not a regular cheesesteak reviewer, he gave his honest opinion on Lillo’s steak, and it may shock you. Watch his full review below: 

  • The takeaway?

    Cheesesteaks have their roots in Philadelphia. They are beautifully and historically Philly, so it has been a long-time sentiment that any cheesesteak outside of Philly is fraudulent. However, can you fault a restaurant that is not trying to be “Philly?” Maybe not. 

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