"Philly Steak" at Morrette's

Morrettes Composite

Filling up on potato skins is a rookie mistake.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

It's Forget the Resolution week on AOA: a whole lineup of foods that can send your New Year's resolution to eat better/eat less/exercise more/lose weight to its timely end.

Nothing says "I'm sick of this diet" like eating a pound of beef covered in cheese. Well, unless you're on the Atkins diet.

So if that's the case, add a side of fried potato skins drenched in cheese sauce and bacon and you've got yourself a meal suitable for Forget the Resolution week.

I found this spread at Morrette's -- the local landmark in Schenectady.

When I walked into Morrette's the decor (authentically retro) and aroma (fried) reminded me of how Americans ate in the '50s. You know, when lard was a common ingredient, real butter topped everything and trans-fat what?

It makes sense. The restaurant was established in 1947. The menu is reminiscent of that time, too. It features hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken parm, fried mushrooms and pie a la mode. The specialty, though, and the reason this restaurant was created, is the "Philly" style cheesesteak. The original owner, Tony Morrette, was traveling through Philadelphia when he had his first "Philly Steak" sandwich. He liked it so much that he decided to bring it back to Schenectady and create a restaurant that specializes in it.

You can get the "Philly Steak" a few different ways: Queen, which is on a Kaiser roll; King, which has more meat and is on a steak roll; Open, which is one and a half times larger than the King and served "open face"; and as a Plate, which has two times more meat than the King version.

I made my decision. I wanted one pound of 100% rib-eye steak on a Plate.

But now I had to decide on my topping. The Philly cheesesteak purist in me wanted just cheese (the choices were American, cheddar, mozzarella or cheese sauce). The local in me wanted to try it the way it was advertised, with cheese and tomato sauce. So I went the Morrette way: cheese (mozzarella) and tomato sauce. I asked for some cooked onions in there too for good measure.

(Other toppings include ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, sweet fried peppers, mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, tomato and gravy.)

I went into the whole thing pretty confident. The nickname my grandmother gave me as a kid was "the good eater." I was known to finish off the Lumberjack from IHOP with no trouble and eat cheeseburgers as snacks. I was hoping to channel my twelve-year-old self to accomplish this.

But then the waitress brought out a plate of cheese and sauce-soaked meat bigger than my head.

It was as intimidating as it was delicious. The shaved steak was perfectly cooked and not too tough, the onions added nice flavor and a texture change and the cheese and tomato sauce made it taste like an Italian specialty. But about halfway through my stomach expanded like it does during Thanksgiving and I realized I had made a rookie mistake: I started the meal with a plate full of fried potato skins. Those cheese-sauce-and-bacon-covered ones referenced earlier.

Which were, by the way, amazing and perfectly crispy. They didn't have time to get soggy from the cheese because we ate them so quickly.

I pushed through, finished a few more bites and tapped out. The remainder made one heck of a leftover lunch the next day.

Morrettes Sampler

I visited Morrette's again recently for a re-match, but this time I got the Sampler Plate: shaved steak, spicy sliced sausage and billiard ball-size meatballs. I went with straight cheese sauce on the steak and tomato sauce on the sausage and meatballs. It was amazing -- even better than the straight steak plate, I'd say. And this time, I lived up to my childhood name.

Morrettes Sampler Clean

(Okay. Kidding. I brought some home again.)

Morrettes Sampler Home

Also from Forget the Resolution week:
+ Akum vs. The Machine at Uncle Dan's Diner
+ The Deep Fried Hamburger at Swifty's
+ Chicharrones at Mr. Pio Pio

Find It

1126 Erie Boulevard
Schenectady, NY 12305-1002


This is awesome! I can even just order the steak plate and it technically isn't a cheat for me (since I'm doing a modified Atkins diet). Love it!

Am I the only one who thinks the "cheese" looks like two Kraft pasteurized processed cheese food slices? I'm all for huge portions of delectable meat but at least top it with some real dairy product.

Whiz has its place on Philly style steaks. I was just at Tony Luke's earlier today and enjoyed my whiz wit (in addition to an Italian pork sandwich).

However at Morrette's the best thing by far are those loaded potato things. Skipping them to fill up on more of their beef would be a mistake.

I dunno B, there is a real beauty to that fake cheese junk slathered all over fries or a philly. It may seem ridiculous, but some times real cheese just isn't cheesy enough!

Those are some good lookin' piles o' grub.

I once asked a running friend "Why do you like to run so much?'" His answer..." Because I like to eat so much."

I'm thinking of opening a restaurant filled with treadmills that have mini countertops attached to each. Each entree has a caloric weighted value plugged into the little calorie burning screen and well, you get it...

Morette's might need to shut down the food at 9PM and keep the treadmills running until 2AM.

I would normally be a proponent for real cheese, but I think I don't think Morrette's would work if they did.

Good call, Mr. G. I would need to run a half marathon, uphill to work off that meal.

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