Back in 2003, two friends headed to South Street and wrapped a slice of Lorenzo & Sons pizza around a cheesesteak from Jim’s Steaks.
The carbs-on-carbs creation was a pure goof, and Jeff Barg and Adam Gordon called it the Lorenzo’s-Jim’s Challenge. Barg, at the time an editor at Philadelphia Weekly, wrote about it as if it were a trend, as he told me in 2014.
Frat boys bought in, and the combo got its own page in the seminal The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book by Carolyn Wyman. When rapper/food influencer Action Bronson came to town in 2015 for Made in America, he tried one and liked it — though his sandwich was based on a cheesesteak from Ishkabibble’s.
Now, the Philly Taco — as it has come to be known — has a home base.
Pizza Da’Action opened last week downstairs from Fat Tuesday at 431 South St. No need to schlep from Lorenzo’s at 305 South with one of those massive slices of pizza to stand in line for a cheesesteak at Jim’s at Fourth and South, only to assemble it on a car hood.
Owners Mike and Michele Metzler, high school friends who reconnected on Facebook earlier this year and fell in love, want to bring a boardwalk vibe to the street. Their parlor is set up with coin games and candy machines. Besides pizza and sandwiches, the menu also includes cotton candy and popcorn. Mike Metzler worked in the shop for its previous management when it was Jules Pizza.
Pizza Da’Action’s Philly Taco can be made with a regulation cheesesteak (it’s $15.99) or any number of sandwiches.
The Metzlers are going one bigger than Lorenzo’s in the pizza department, though. They use a 30-inch pan, 2 inches wider than Lorenzo’s. This creates more surface area for each eight-slice pie — nearly 707 square inches vs. about 616 square inches for a 28-inch pie — so there’s more pizza to envelope the roll, which they source from Liscio’s.
Taste-wise? Not bad at all, based on a sober sampling at 5:30 p.m. The cheesesteak itself was the star, and provided a tender, flavor-packed center for what you might imagine is a lot of dough. Foods like this tend to taste better later in the evening, anyway; the shop is keeping late hours daily.
They’re also offering a challenge: Order a double-meat Philly Taco served on an 18-inch tray loaded with fries for $25. Eat it by yourself in 10 minutes, and you’ll get $50, a shirt, a hat, a VIP card, and a spot on the wall.