The cheesesteak is the kind of thing that when you get it, you need it to be good. The bread needs to be just right, the cheese has to be Whiz, and the beef -- well, it's the point. At City-Eatz, which opened last February in the Pompano Flea Market Festival Mall, they get that.
Owner Gary Roskin grew up in Chicago, but traveled extensively to cities like Philadelphia, New York and Memphis where he would indulge in any of the city's most iconic eats. Years later, when he relocated to South Florida to open Nature's Table Cafe in Boca's Mizner Park, many of the foods he'd grown to love were not so easy to find.
Later, after a move into commercial real estate, it became his job to help large chain restaurants find spaces to relocate or add franchises. He never dreamed that one day, he would be looking for himself.
"When the Cheesesteak Experience space at the [flea market] mall became available, the owners told me they wanted another cheesesteak place," Roskin told Clean Plate Charlie. "I thought, why not me?"
Just a few months later he opened City-Eatz with a menu designed to offer American favorites from Philly cheesesteak and Milwaukee grilled cheese, to Chicago's finest italian sausage and Memphis-style pulled pork sliders. Each dish can be paired with the eatery's hand-cut French fries, which Roskin gives a routine preparation by soaking in a vinegar and water bath to deliver a tangy bite before frying fresh to-order.
Like many of the foods Roskin offers, deciding to eat a the Pompano flea market food court is itself a destination dining experience, but worth the trip. The counter is easy to spot, with large flat screen TV's that shuffle images of each plate. The open kitchen offers a clear view of chef-manager Louie Gatti, a loud-mouth New England native who makes each dish in plain view as orders come in -- no mystery behind the curtains.
The magic with the Philly cheesesteak is thanks to plenty of authentic ingredients, as well as Gatti's cooking. The buns, bought directly from Amoroso bakery, are given a heaping portion of direct from Philly beef. Melty cheese Whiz seals the deal. Gatti has similar skill with the Vienna hot dogs, which offer up real-deal Vienna poppy seed buns, yellow mustard and that neon green relish with sport peppers and celery salt. In the mood for Chicago beef? The Fontanini beef is served in au jus gravy, while the French rolls are the classic staple. They're topped with authentic Giardiniera peppers, a taste of Taylor Street.
The best part: if you like the food enough to make a take-home meal out of it, City-Eatz offers some pretty sweet deals on party packs. It's basically everything you need to make each of the City-Eatz dishes in your own kitchen. For $29.99 you can get all the ingredients to make the Vienna hot dogs; Chicago Italian beef or sausage sandwiches for $44.95 to $34.99; and Philly cheesesteaks, complete with a squeeze bottle of Cheese Whiz for $39.99.
For more information visit the City-Eatz website at www.city-eatz.net, or call 954-989-8474.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.