Local family serves up a taste of Philly in the Triangle

Madeline Gray | North State Journal
Bob "Anvil" Thompson cooks cheesesteaks on the grill at Anvil's Cheesesteaks

Philadelphia marks the birthplace of American politics, but more importantly, Philly cheesesteaks. When North Carolina delegates and speakers traveled to the Democratic National Convention, I traveled to Anvil’s Cheesesteaks in Raleigh.Tucked away in a corner of a strip mall, Anvil’s Cheesesteaks offers an authentic Philly cheesesteak that has thinly sliced steak, melted white American cheese, and an option of “wit’ or wit’out” onions packed into a roll from Neomonde Bakery.The walls of Anvil’s show the charm of Philadelphia — with photos of the Liberty Bell, the LOVE statue, Eagles signs, and more — bringing in pieces of Bob “Anvil” Thompson’s hometown.The main piece of his home is the top menu item — the cheesesteak.Barbara Weeks, Thompson’s wife and co-owner, said they wanted to show Raleigh an authentic Philly cheesesteak.”He was never happy with the cheesesteaks around the country, because they are never done right, so we opened a little cheesesteak shop,” Weeks said.Thompson said the key to a good cheesesteak is keeping everything fresh, from the meat to the peppers.”We slice the steak where most places, even in Philadelphia, buy it from meat packing companies, because it is a lot more labor,” Thompson said. “But we buy the roast and slice the roast every morning so it tastes like steak.”He added every night they have to thaw out the steak, so it is still partially frozen in the morning to slice it thinly.The ingredients are bought twice a week and the produce is bought locally. They offered two cheese options: American or aged provolone cheese, instead of Cheez Whiz.”He generally believes the simpler something is the better,” Weeks said. “We don’t do Cheez Whiz, because he can’t bear to put all that work into the sandwich and then put Cheez Whiz on top of it.”To keep things simple, behind the counter is family. Thompson is in the kitchen and Weeks deals with the business side of things. Their son Dylan cooks, mans the register, and fills in the gaps while their daughter Lindsy helps out in the summers and weekends as she attends East Carolina.”It’s great we’re all doing the same thing,” Weeks said. “But as a family, we also argue about everything. We are always going back and forth of what we want to do, but it is nice we are all working toward the same thing.”