Marlow’s Makes Philly Cheesesteak Magic

Marlow’s Steaks and its sister water ice concept celebrate two Philly food wonders.

G.A. Benton
The Marlow's Way cheesesteak with a pumpkin mule cocktail from Marlow's Steaks in Gahanna

When I heard Shanika Sheppard, co-owner of a new two-for-one spot in Gahanna, compare her signature cold treat to Italian ice, her accent was clear as a bell—the Liberty Bell, to be exact.

Using proper Philadelphia-ese, Sheppard pronounced her chilly, Philly-style specialty at The Water Ice Shoppe (formerly stationed at Easton) as “worder ice.” This was a promising sign of authenticity from an operation that sells another Philadelphia specialty—cheesesteaks—in the same space under the name of Marlow’s Steaks.

More promising signs surfaced on the establishment’s nice little Creekside-area patio. That’s where Sheppard’s husband and business partner, Jomar Sheppard—his nickname is Marlow, and he often wears a Phillies baseball cap—informed me that their cheesesteaks, which the Sheppards originally sold from a food truck, are made with meat and rolls imported from the Philadelphia area, and those rolls come from the beloved Amoroso’s Baking Co.

The bright, café-meets-sports-pub interior of The Water Ice Shoppe and Marlow’s Steaks carries the City of Brotherly Love theme throughout. The Sheppards, who moved from their Philadelphia hometown in 2018, have decorated the modest-sized eatery (formerly Arepazo Tapas and Wine) with framed jerseys of Philly sports heroes and an amusing mural of other Philadelphia luminaries like Patti LaBelle, Kevin Hart and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa.

A mural featuring famous Philly celebrities at Marlow's in Gahanna

And those promising signs? They amount to promises kept.

Marlow’s food menu is small but polished—cheesesteaks, cheesesteak-style sandwiches and fries. The Classic Wit Wiz ($12) has everything you want in a cheesesteak: loads of thinly sliced and chopped, tender and flavorful beef; griddled onions (the “Wit”); enough tangy, fluorescent-orange cheese sauce to cover a stadium section’s nachos (the “Wiz”); and a soft-and-puffy yet sturdy-and-elastic roll that magically won’t disintegrate from the juicy weight of its abundant fillings.

The outrageous Marlow’s Way ($14) is a nine-napkin behemoth: essentially the Classic Wit Wiz plus extra meat, mushrooms, provolone, fiery little pickled chiles, spicy mustard, mayo and maybe a kitchen sink. Two sloppy thumbs way up.

Not into beef? Marlow’s Chicken Wit Wiz ($12), created with sizable chunks of peppery white meat, is a respectable alternative. Ditto for the Vine St. Veggie ($8), a meatless but hefty mushroom-and-cheese-enriched flavor bomb with spicy and sweet accents.

You want fries with that. Marlow’s crisp, spice-dusted, abundant steak fries are only $4.

The unmodified water ices ($3) are a must. Like sorbets—and unlike shaved ices—they’re relatively fine-grained, dense, smooth and arrive in distinct scoops. Cherry is a Philly classic. Order the recommended tropical rainbow flavor, and you’ll get cherry swirled with mango and passion fruit. Order it by asking for a “worder ice,” and you’ll get an extra-big smile, too.

Marlow's Way cheesesteak and Classic cheesesteak with a pumpkin mule cocktail and tropical rainbow water ice dessert from Marlow's Steaks in Gahanna.

Beers, cocktails and alcohol-spiked slushies are offered. The latter—called Twisted Ices ($10)—are modified water ices.

Marlow’s Steaks / The Water Ice Shoppe

93 N. High St., Gahanna, 614-532-5182

This story is from the September 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.