Old 41 serves heaping helpings of diner-style comfort fare
One look at Old 41 Restaurant’s menu and I instantly knew I was home. Scrapple. Hoagies. Cheese steaks on Amoroso rolls!
Who’d have thought I’d find a little piece of my birthplace, Philadelphia, in a strip center along Old 41 in Bonita Springs?
For those unfamiliar with the culinary lingo of the City of Brotherly Love, allow me to translate:
A Pennsylvania Dutch concoction that blends pork trimmings, cornmeal, flour, spices and you don’t want to ask what else is in there. Just know that it tastes great with eggs.
The Philadelphia version of a sub, hero, po’ boy, grinder, torpedo.
• Philly cheese steak:
Thin-sliced steak (rib eye or eye round), cheese and onions on an Amoroso roll.
You’ve likely seen some version of the cheese steak in any number of dining establishments. It is a rare restaurant that can conjure up the real thing, complete with the classic Italian roll created by the 106-year-old family-owned Amoroso Baking Co., a Philadelphia treasure.
Behold the classic Philadelphia cheese steak, complete with Amoroso roll. KAREN FELDMAN/ FLORIDA WEEKLY
Even those who’ve never set foot in Philadelphia and who find scrapple scary and hoagies uninteresting will find plenty to like about Old 41, the best modern version of a diner I’ve encountered in the Sunshine State.
A smiling hostess swiftly seated us in a comfortable booth. An equally chipper server appeared shortly thereafter and brought us water and cups of hot coffee.
dining room is L-shaped with
kitchen at the midpoint. Walls are
rainbow of cheery pastel yellow,
gre green, orange and blue, with just a few
Above: A fluffy omelet has just the right balance balries of feta cheese, onions and spinach. Right: The boardwalk waffle sundae marries a Carbon’s malted waffle with two mounds ds of Royal Scoop ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a cherry. p, KAREN FELDMAN/ FLORIDA WEEKLY WE EEKLY
well-placed framed prints adding
splashes of color.
Beyond the color scheme, what I noticed most was how clean everything
was The service station with coffee, iced tea and a computer terminal was immaculate. No table went uncleared for more than moments after a party left. Even the bathroom was spotless, despite the fact that the restaurant had been open for five hours by the time I visited.
Because both breakfast and lunch are available, the choices are many and it will likely be hard to decide on just one dish. At my table, we split the difference, with my companion opting for breakfast as I headed straight for the cheese steak.
While we waited for our food to arrive, I checked out what our neighbors were eating. I saw a well-stuffed tuna and cheese hoagie, a perfectly rendered bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on toast and a plate piled high with lovely golden onion rings.
When our dishes came, they were equally appealing.
My companion’s spinach, feta and
onio onion omelet ($8.95) had just the right
bala balance of ingredients so that each was
noti noticeable, but didn’t overpower the
othe others. It came with a choice of home
frie fries or grits and toast or an English mu muffin. He chose the home fries, which
h had great flavor, with some crisp,
browned pieces amidst the softer chunks and not a trace of greasiness. The English muffin was properly toasted, too.
My cheese steak ($8.95) didn’t disappoint.
The aforementioned roll was
ligh lightly grilled then filled with thinly
slice sliced steak and grilled onions along
melted American cheese. I skipped
optional banana peppers, but they
are available should you want them. While there’s great debate on whether the sandwich should contain Cheez Whiz or American (some even say Provolone) cheese, I’m from the American camp. It’s not as gooey as Cheez Whiz and has a more delicate flavor.
The result was a terrific, authentic version of this regional classic.
The fries that came with it were golden brown, hot and devoid of grease; the pickle was crisp and tart.
We shared a boardwalk waffle sundae for two ($5.25) for dessert. Half of a large Carbon’s malted waffle came blanketed with two generous mounds of Royal Scoop vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and two cherries. The waffle was warm and crisp, the ice cream had rich vanilla flavor with just enough syrup and whipped cream. It was a great dessert to share, but it’s also available in a half size for those who can’t tempt a dining partner into indulging.
Throughout our meal our server checked on us regularly, refilling our coffee and water and making sure we were happy with our food. We were.
There are so many reasons to like Old 41, but they all boil down to one common element: quality. The management obviously cares about offering great food made with top-notch ingredients. The staff is efficient and hospitable. And the atmosphere is casual but well maintained.
Old 41 is an all-around winner.