A "best-of" list can be a fun conversation-starter.

Some authority will rank "the best horror movies of the 1960s" or "the most danceable disco hits" or "the greatest Phillies of all time" and the public gets into it, balancing opinion and reason.

But no one should put a scintilla of stock in the list that USA Today released last week contending that a shop in Pittsburgh's South Side called Groove Cheesesteak Co. serves the best cheesesteak in Pennsylvania.

If you've ever needed a reason to doubt the soundness of a "best-of" list determined by online voting, this is it. The poll was limited to 20 shops around the state selected by a panel convened by Sandwich America. Fifteen of the nominated shops were from Philadelphia and its suburbs, fragmenting the voting, while Groove was the only entry from Pittsburgh.

(Groove might even not be the best cheesesteak shop in Pittsburgh. "Subway is better," insists my brother, who has lived in the 'Burgh since the late 1970s but returns to Philly five or so times a year to scarf a prodigious number of cheesesteaks.)

Based on our visit on Sunday, Groove's roll - available plain or toasted(!) - tasted past its prime. The meat - clearly frozen as it was placed on the grill - was a meager portion for our $9.75, a fraction of what a Philly shop such as Jim's (No. 4 on the list) and Dalessandro's (No. 2) stuffs in its sandwiches.

While not offering American cheese, Groove advertises "house-made Whiz," which aside from a trademark violation was just a travesty of glop. (Perhaps there was too much actual cheese in it.) Groove also allows customers to add honey mustard, mayo, and remoulade, something that would never fly at an English-speaking establishment such as Geno's.

Also - and though a quality cheesesteak shop need not be white-glove spotless - Groove could have been tidier Sunday afternoon. See our photo of the grease-shrouded glass between the grill and the customers.

All Groove seemed to have going for it was the CBS TV station in Pittsburgh, which promoted the contest in between (deep sigh here) its reports of the Penguins' making the playoffs.

Philly-area shops made eight of the top 10 slots:

1. Groove, Pittsburgh

2. Dalessandro's Steaks & Hoagies - Philadelphia

3. Forksville General Store - Forksville (a landmark in the Endless Mountains of Sullivan County northeast of Williamsport)

4. Jim's Steaks South Street - Philadelphia

5. Philip's Steaks - Philadelphia

6. Steve's Prince of Steaks - Philadelphia

7. Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop - Philadelphia

8. Leo's Steak Shop - Folcroft

9. John's Roast Pork - Philadelphia

10. Pat's King of Steaks - Philadelphia

Who does make the "best" cheesesteak in Pennsylvania?

Whoever you say. Go your own way. Ignore the lists.