437 New Jersey 73
Berlin Township, NJ 08009
Gaetano’s is a South Jersey cheesesteak chain that calls themselves the “king of steaks." There happened to be one near one of my site visits the other day, so I decided to see if they were deserving of the throne, or if they were just another Joffrey.
The menu seems kind of expensive, with a mini (8”) steak running close to $9. They do offer some varieties, but rather than seeming adventurous or innovative, their options appear to be stuck in the late 90’s.
Note how their "specialties" are more like "basics."
The pizza didn’t look too hot, and the 10-15 minute wait for my order made me increasingly wary.
When I was back and safely nestled within the confines of the conference room, I unwrapped my lunch as though it was a stolen crown jewel.
I kept it traditional: cheesesteak with American and fried onions, but I added hot peppers. I love hot peppers, and like to see how places implement them into a steak. I love when they are thrown on the meat while still on the grill, integrating the tart vinegar into the steak, and adding some zip to the rich, fatty, carb-heavy main event. Gaetano’s just haphazardly threw some banana peppers on top of the finished steak. Another so-so choice on their part.
However as much as I wanted to pick this place apart, I simply could not. The meat, although under-seasoned, was tender, flavorful, and perfectly shaved. The seeded roll, which I generally shy away from when applying to cheesesteaks, was soft enough to allow for tender bites, yet,unlike our local sports teams, held together well under the pressure of grease and cheese.
The onions were sweet, nicely chopped and cooked to near-carmelization, and the banana peppers, though merely an afterthought, did brighten up the flavors of the sandwich. I didn’t even order extra cheese, and it was well interspersed throughout. They did not pull the old "cheese only on the bread" move that can break a cheesesteak for me, which was great.
Although not life changing (unless you count it as life shortening), this is a really solid cheesesteak. The price may be a bit high, but the 8” was plenty of tasty filling to make me to feel bad about myself, and the components worked well together.