MEET THE CHEF: Frank Santos, Frankie’s Philadelphia Cheesesteaksby Tucson Citizen on Jul. 04, 2007, under Local, Taste
Address and phone: 2574 N. Campbell Ave., 795-2665
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays
Frank Santos is chef and co-owner of Frankie’s Philadelphia Cheesesteaks.
Born and raised in South Philly, Santos moved to Tucson upon his retirement from the Delaware River Pilots Association after 31 years. The 53-year-old Santos learned cooking from his father, who cooked on ships, tugboats and for the Delaware River Pilots. Like most Philadelphians, Santos started making cheesesteaks when he was young, about 7 years old. He opened Daglio Cheesesteaks here with a partner in July 2004. Santos moved the business across the street and a few blocks south (in the former Le Bistro) and opened in April.
He recently spoke to Taste Plus.
Question: What’s your favorite restaurant in Tucson?
Answer: I’ll give you three. Fiorito’s, because they have consistently good Italian food, Acacia, because Albert Hall has the freshest fish of any restaurant in Tucson and everything is so well-prepared, and Rio Café, a new place, because I just really like their food.
What’s your favorite dish to prepare and why?
It’s got to be the cheesesteak and our Philadelphia Roast Pork.
What’s your favorite dish to eat?
The Cioppino at Acacia. That’s my favorite thing to eat. It’s just excellent.
What’s unique about the Tucson restaurant scene compared to other cities?
When I first moved here, I noticed that a lot of the food had a spiciness that I wasn’t crazy about. As time went on, it got more and more used to it, and now, I really like it.
What’s your favorite or most-used kitchen utensil or gadget?
I’d say metal spatulas. We use two of them to cut the steaks on the grill, a long one and a short one.
What do you always have in your refrigerator?
Unsalted butter. I use it for everything. I think a lot of restaurants use unsalted butter also, because if you make things like a stock that already have salt in them, you don’t want to add more salt in the butter. We cook our own fresh roasted turkey here, and we always use unsalted butter for that reason.
Why are you a chef?
First of all, I’m not a chef. I’m a South Philly cheesesteak maker, but I love cooking and I really love cheesesteaks and hoagies. I dreamt about doing this 15 years ago when I first started coming to Tucson, and now, I’m living my dream. I never dreamed I’d be working this hard, but I’m still living the dream and enjoying it.