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Takeout Tuesday: Real-deal Philly cheesesteaks at new Record Street Brewing Co.

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Mural of the "Biggest Little Brewery District In The World" adorns a wall in the patio seating area

I love a good Philly cheesesteak. It has to be a top-10 food item for me. But I haven’t had a great one in Reno since moving back here in 2013. And I do have some knowledge on the topic besides me fancying myself as a foodie with a high-level palate.

My grandmother lived in Philadelphia and a bunch of my close friends from college at the University of Miami were from Philly and South Jersey. I’ve dabbled during trips to that part of the country. My dad, who also spent a good chunk of his life in Philly, would make them at home. So bottom line: I know what I want to see from my cheesesteak, a good shaved ribeye, sautéed onions, a nice roll and either sharp provolone or white American cheese. And don't get me started about cheese whiz (the sauce that comes from a pump or out of a jar). Some people have a strong belief it’s the only way to eat your cheesesteak, but I don't want that within five feet of my sandwich.

I have been given some spots in town a try, but have been left underwhelmed. Others don’t see it that way. Nevada basketball legend Nick Fazekas said the meal he craves the most when in town is the Philly cheesesteak from Little Philadelphia, which has a location in Reno and Sparks. At his recommendation, I tried it a few months ago and I liked it, but didn’t love it. My biggest issue was their bread. I felt like it was just a basic kind of squishy roll that detracted from the sandwich. It was a solid 6.5 (out of 10) cheesesteak: good, but nothing to write home about.

I was ready to give up all hope for a great cheesesteak in Reno until an unlikely tweet showed up in my feed. Jordon Simmons, Nevada football’s strength and conditioning coach, posted about the newly opened Record Street Brewing Company, and proclaimed their cheesesteak was superior to a couple of Philadelphia landmarks. I had to see for myself.

Record Street Brewing Company

I was already looking forward to checking out Record Street after they opened their doors to a soft launch a couple of weeks ago. It’s something I’ve had my eye on for a couple of years, ever since I heard someone was taking over the old, dilapidated space on 4th Street and adding to the rebirth of the Reno Brewery District.

Dylan Evans, one of the owners and general manager, is a Reno native and alum of McQueen High School. He also runs 1864 Tavern on California Avenue. Evans opened that bar six years ago, and he's been working on Record Street for the last four.

“We wanted to be a part of it as quickly as we could,” Evans said. “There’s been this revitalization over the last couple of years with The Depot, Lead Dog, Pigeon Head, Black Rabbit and all of these other breweries and distilleries. It’s so historic."

While landmarks like the Mapes Hotel are a thing of the past in downtown Reno, Evans said Fourth Street still has history that's alive and well. And he’s excited to be a part of honoring that.

“On 4th Street, these old buildings are still standing," he said.

It may have taken a few years to finally open, but Evans and his team have done a remarkable job turning an old building into a beautiful new space. As soon as you walk in from Fourth Street, you are met with a big open area with an industrial chic vibe. The original brick walls frame the room, which includes the sign of the old Alpine Glass Company that sat vacant for years before the Record Street remodel. There’s an open kitchen with a beautifully decorated oven as well as a view into the brewing area in the back. Past a few of the tables to the right is a big open room for “The Alpine," a live music venue that will be a great addition to the Reno nightlife once things allow for something like that.

There are also a couple of patio chairs to sit outside, as well as a cool mural with the title, “Greetings from The Biggest Little Brewery District in the World.”

I couldn’t be more excited to have them in the neighborhood. The emergence of The Jesse and Estella next door, as well as The Depot and the brewery for Battle Born Beer across the street, as well as Black Rabbit Mead, Lead Dog and Pigeon Head around the corner has made this part of town a destination location.

The Philly Cheesesteak

Now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s talk about the cheesesteak. I had high expectations when I came in to pick up my order around 5 p.m. I grabbed my box to go, as well as a four pack of Record Street’s new beer release the “Malt Rose." I’ll tell you more about that in just a little bit.

I got in my car, and before I could drive away I had to stop and take a couple of bites to get its best shot while still hot. It was incredible. Evans said they wanted to do a 100 percent Philly cheesesteak, and they did not disappoint. Fantastic flavor from the shaved ribeye meat is complemented by rich sharpness of white American and slow cooked sautéed onions in a high quality roll that could easily withstand all the greasy goodness it had to hold together. This was a worthy cheesesteak.

“I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel,” Evans said. “We wanted to do something that if you were from Philly and got it you would be like, 'Ah, this is exactly what I have at home.' We’ve been getting incredible buzz about it. I’m just glad to know there are as many Philly lovers out there as I was. I was surprised at that one.”

Making it as authentic as possible meant Evans couldn’t compromise on one key ingredient: the bread. While he said they will be using some local bakers for other items, the cheesesteak’s Amoroso roll had to be flown in from Philly.

“I fought tooth and nail with some people on this one,” Evans said. “The bread is so important. We weren’t taking any chances on that one.”

I noticed it was a legit roll. My only criticism is I wish the roll had just a little bit more crisp on the outside. I want my roll to have a little hardiness on the outside to go with the softness on the inside. But it’s a small critique for me considering the bread's quality.

As for the cheese, while it’s a debate that can split families apart in Philly, Evans plans on using all options, including whiz.

“A lot of old-school Philadelphians are like, 'No whiz cheese,' it’s not a part of the Philly," Evans said. "And then you have the other ones who are, like, 'I won’t eat it without whiz.' We are sticking with the classic provolone and white American and once whiz cheese comes back to market we will have all three offerings."

But while there will be options on cheese, don’t expect much else.

“You can’t get mushrooms and jalapeños and all these other things," Evans said. "I think people appreciate that we are keeping it on the authenticity side.”

As far as other food options, Record Street is serving pizzas from their beautiful oven that fires from 800 to 1,200 degrees. Evans thinks they will be a staple.