A pair of true cliches about Philadelphians: they discriminate without apology when it comes to baseball and cheesesteak sandwiches.
So, what happens to a Phillies fan when he or she lives in Florida, 1,000 miles away from Pat's or Geno's or Jim's, and the tummy starts rumbling, the hands start shaking? How does a Quaker Stater cure a steak sandwich jones in the Sunshine State?
The answer seems too good to be true: just head to a Phillies game at Clearwater's Bright House Networks Field, where the La Spada's & Delco's stand behind home plate promises to fix the cheesesteak junkie.
Rick Phillips and wife Debbie Phillips (above) have been coming to Phillies spring games for, "jeez, 12 years," Rick said. Originally from Philadelphia, he grew up adoring Phillies greats Bobby Wine, Johnny Callison and Jim Bunning.
He also loves himself a good cheesesteak, which can be hard to find if one strays too far from Philly's Passyunk Avenue. Some think it impossible, even pseudo-sacrilegious to even suggest it. Long lines at La Spada's & Delco's suggest the Phillips couple is onto something.
Look close at the picture; even Chase Bleeping Utley is standing in line (on the right, not really him). Also, the T-shirt that says "Mean People Suck" couldn't be more right. The wisdom one finds standing in line for a sandwich, you know?
The Phillips, who have been married 27 years, moved to Florida and live in a lovely sounding town called Palm Harbor (cities here tend not to be named "Skunk Crossing"). Outside of spring training season, they scoot over to La Spada's & Delco's location in nearby Dunedin.
"Tell you what," Rick said. "The steaks are even better there."
But a sandwich at the Phillies game will get eaters through nine innings. OK, make it two sandwiches, to be safe. Rick and Debbie take theirs wit' (onions) and hot peppers, thank you — and every bite reminds them of home.
As good as Pat's or Geno's?
The husband says yes but Debbie doesn't quite agree, shaking her head and adding the qualifier, "I'm from New Jersey."
"What does that tell you?" Rick said. "I got her into the Phillies but I'm still working on the sandwich."