Nearly 40 years after their parents, Pete and Marika, began to offer top-quality ultimate cheesesteaks in a luncheonette just minutes away from cheesesteak mecca, Philadelphia, brothers Frank and Michael Vasilikos have brought their family business to the beach.
The brothers, who used to work at their parents' shop as kids, said they missed the authenticity of the cheesesteaks they made and can still get in North Wilmington, so they opened Pete’s Steak Shop and named it after their father.
“We opened the first week of July and we’ve been extremely busy since then,” Frank said. “We are still adjusting because there is so much pent-up demand. Nobody does what we do.”
Partnering with Petru Cornescu, who runs the kitchen at Pete's, the brothers have brought their first-generation Greek-American family recipes and hospitality to the Cape Region at the steak shop in the Rehoboth Food Lion shopping center.
"We're not in this for the money," Michael Vasilikos said. "We're in it for the passion of the product."
The ultimate cheesesteaks at Pete's start with soft, locally-baked rolls, between 12 ounces and one pound of thin-sliced rib-eye for a small, a choice of cheese (including the traditional Cheez Whiz) and fresh ingredients, topped with long hots, homemade hot peppers that are not for the faint of heart.
“This is the same rib-eye you put on the grill,” Frank said. “We just buy so much of it. In North Wilmington we would buy real rib-eye, get it sliced and take it home and make real cheesesteaks there too. We use good rolls and good meats.”
Prices are kept on the low end for the quality ingredients they offer at Pete’s, he said, because the brothers plan to do lots of volume at the newly-outfitted steak shop that formerly housed a Blockbuster video store.
“Steak is cheaper to buy here than it is to buy at the grocery store,” Frank said. “Everybody sees our sign and gets a cheesesteak, but we have pizza too. Nobody was buying our pizza, so we started giving it away. Now they are coming in for our pizza too.”
The brothers also offer other delicacies at Pete’s Steak Shop, including gyros, calzones, angus burgers, subs, wraps, cheesecakes and rice pudding made fresh each morning, Michael said, with more to come, including seasoned Italian Porketta sandwiches and Greek pastries to debut in September.
“We want to do something different,” he said. “Some things other people don’t have.”
On any given evening, generations of the family can be spotted dining at the new Pete's Steak Shop, including family matriarch, Marika and Michael and Frank's children, keeping the family tradition alive.
Pete’s Steak Shop is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday. For more information call 302-226-3000 or visit www.ultimatecheesesteak.com.