NOTE: This restaurant is closed.
Sabatino Bros – Southridge Center, South Charleston, WV
So it’s no secret that I prefer a locally owned restaurant over a chain. I eat at chains, we need chains, some of my best friends like chains, but given a choice, I’ll patronize a place like Sabatino Bros (SB). John Smallridge opened his neighborhood deli in July 2006 near Walmart and Big Sandy Superstore. You can tell by the decor and atmosphere that he wants people to be comfortable. There is familiar music playing ala Pink Floyd. There are a variety of magazines to look at while you wait for your meal to be prepared, and high speed internet is available for customers to surf the web. I found a high-top table next to the window for my first visit.
Sabatino Bros is about sandwiches. After reading the menu copy it is apparent that the owner loves cheesesteaks and has developed a recipe after eating them all over the country. He proclaims that, “If you don’t agree that Sabatino Bros. is the BEST cheesesteak in West Virginia, I’ll refund your money! Plain and simple, the big chains can’t produce the quality our single, independent restaurant delivers! -John Smallridge”. Well I decided to take this challenge and ordered up an “Original”. Now I haven’t had too many WV Cheesesteaks so I’ll take this claim to the next level and compare it to Philly’s finest. Using the recommendation from Holly Eats I tried Pat’s and DiNic’s on my most recent trip to Philadelphia. I will compare John’s cheesesteak to the Pat’s cheesesteak I had in October 2007.
First, SB has replicated the bread perfectly. It is soft, chewy and holds up to the juices of the steak. Second, John uses white american cheese as the standard cheese. This makes a fine sandwich and creates that delicious gravy when the steak juice and the melted cheese mix together, but I prefer Cheese Whiz. It is the way they serve them in Philly and I like tradition. As far as I can tell Cheese Whiz is not an option at SB’s. Finally, the steak John has selected has great flavor, but there isn’t enough steak. This is where a Pat’s sandwich excels. You get a mouthful of ribeye for about $7. Arguably, SB’s version comes in at $5.49 and if they charge $7 for the regular size it could have more meat on it. So is it the best cheesesteak I have had in West Virginia? After reflecting for moment I think it is the best cheesesteak I have eaten in WV.
I ordered a side of fries, which are spiral cut and fried fresh to order. You get a whole potato for $1.89. These are good fries and go well with the sandwich. I have been to the SB’s twice since this first visit. The next visit was sparked, because I wanted turkey and dressing for dinner. The Vegetarian Wife did not want to eat at Bob Evan’s and suggested Penn Station. Remembering the sandwich with the title “Southridge” I thought we should stop at SB’s. The “Southridge” aka “The Moistmaker” is a cold sub made with roasted turkey, thanksgiving style stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo. They tuck all this into their classic sub roll and voila! you have some surprising good eats.
My most recent visit included “The Five”. Susan needed to do some fry research, which you will find below. I decided to try something different yet again and opted for the Pizza Steak, which is steak, pepperoni, sauce and mozzarella cheese. The pepperoni is the gem of this sub and definitely worth a try. Next time I stop at SB’s I think I’ll try the pork tenderloin sub. It looks like it might be something special.
The Pizza Steak
The self serve drinks at SB’s are worth mentioning for three reasons. First, they have diet Dr. Pepper. Second, they are a reasonable $1.49 for a fast casual meal. Finally, you can make yourself a Arnold Palmer. An Arnold Palmer is half iced tea and half lemonade, and is very refreshing. SB’s has been running a couple of specials recently – the Big Beef Burrito and a Chicken Salad Croissant with a side salad. The latter looked very fresh and filling for $6.49.
I do have a couple of negatives. The beer selection is nonexistent and the counter service was lacking. I would come for dinner more often if they offered more than domestic and diet beer. The counter help or hostess is a restaurant’s first chance to make a good impression. On two of my three visits the counter help did not know the menu or how to operate the register proficiently.
I can tell that Mr. Smallridge is passionate about food and strives to deliver the best. Stop by and enjoy a strong THREE fork meal.
Always interested in the opportunity to use a coupon from my Dine A Mate book, I jumped at the chance to try Sabatino Brothers and participate in Daniel’s forking of the joint. Apparantly he wanted to do a thorough job since this was his third visit in, like, a week. Daniel tends to wear a place out when he finds a new establishment with several interesting-looking options on the menu. You don’t even want to know how often he went to Bluegrass when it was first “discovered”!
When we pulled in, we saw the delivery truck that announced a Chicken Pesto Panini and my mind was mostly made up. I like chicken and I like pesto and panini implied to me that the bread would be hot and well-toasted.
I was confused by the menu. There were a bunch of sandwiches and salads listed on the overhead menu board, but no prices. Then we noticed the printed, laminated menus on the counter which did show prices on the main dishes. However, the available sides were not listed anywhere that I could find and there were no prices for these items. I didn’t know if a side was included in the $6.89 price of my panini or not….turns out, it was extra. $1.89 for a side of fries, but hey, it was all in the name of French Fry Research. I also ordered a fountain soda, but I didn’t see a price anywhere for that, either.
I was very pleased with the portion size of my fries. Definitely not skimpy. The fries were hot, crispy, fresh-cut and really good. I personally prefer a thicker cut fry so I get the crispy outside and the potato-y inside. A large sandwich cut on the diagonal lay beside my fries, stacked rather artistically with a green olive on top, impaled by a toothpick. The presence of the olive did not offend me like pickles because 1) they really don’t have much juice because olives are very small compared to pickle spears and 2) I like green olives. The bread had nice grill marks on it. It was a thin flatbread, but unlike the wimpy bread you get at Delish Express, this bread was well-toasted and stood up to the sandwich contents without becoming soggy and falling apart. My Delish Express sandwiches always fall apart on me about 25% of the way into my meal. The plentiful amount of chicken was dressed with pesto and roasted red peppers. The color combination was nice but I thought the filling lacked flavor. It was okay, but the bread was the best part of this sandwich. Too bad I can’t go on and on about the lettuce – this sandwich did not come with any.
I also like the option of Diet Dr. Pepper, especially when the place serves that inferior soda product instead of the always refreshing Coca Cola. I made sure to get my money’s worth by refilling before I left. I asked the gal at the counter several questions about their menu items and beer specials while I waited on my colleagues to finish their meals and she gave me quick, friendly answers.
The menu does not include many items I am likely to order so I don’t think my return frequency will come close to that of Daniel’s. Best thing about today’s meal was the fries but I don’t predict they’ll see the top of my Five Best Fries list. Overall, I thought the meal was overpriced. When I totalled up my sandwich, fries and drink it was $10.89, including tax. There are many other places I’d rather go for a $10 lunch.
I will award Sabatino Brothers THREE FORKS.308 Southridge Blvd South Charleston, WV 25309 (304) 746-7827