Columbus Monthly’s Best New Restaurants 2023: Marlow’s Steaks
Philadelphia cheesesteaks are sold all over Columbus, but Marlow’s are the real deal.
Philadelphia cheesesteaks are sold all over Columbus—at cheesesteak-specializing chains with production-line kitchens, at mainstream restaurants with rambling menus and at cheffy sandwich shops with idiosyncratic recipes. The cheesesteaks from such places are all over the map, too. Marlow’s in Gahanna stands out from the pack because its owners are expat Philadelphians who make cheesesteaks the way they love them in the City of Brotherly Love.
Owners Shanika Sheppard and husband Jomar moved from their beloved hometown in 2018 seeking a fresh start. They’d find that with Marlow’s, whose food-truck roots blossomed into the Creekside-area space previously occupied by Arepazo Tapas and Wine. The modest-sized room is now home to an amusing mural of Philly celebrities and a small, well-executed menu of cheesesteaks, cheesesteak variations and must-order steak fries.
The Classic Wit Wiz is the real Philly deal: thinly sliced, chopped, tender and delicious beef; griddled onions (the “Wit”); a lickable lake of tangy cheese sauce (the “Wiz”); and a roll that won’t disintegrate from the weight of its spilling-over fillings.
The Chicken Wit Wiz is a worthy alternative starring abundant, peppery white meat. Going meatless? Marlow’s Vine St. Veggie is a mushroom-and-cheese-loaded torpedo that explodes with flavor, too.
93 N. High St., Gahanna, 614-532-5182, marlowscheesesteaks.com
Philly Special: Adhering to Marlow’s Philly-honoring aesthetic, the Sheppards import their restaurant rolls from Amoroso’s Baking Co., an iconic Philadelphia-area breadmaker founded in 1904. Amoroso’s hoagie-style buns have a special texture that makes them perfect for cheesesteaks: They’re invitingly puffy and soft, yet somehow elastic and sturdy, as well.
Show Me The Way: Jomar Sheppard lent his nickname—Marlow—to the restaurant and to a heavily accessorized, gloriously outrageous cheesesteak modification that goes by “Marlow’s Way.” The mammoth sandwich—essentially the Classic Wit Wiz plus more meat, mushrooms, provolone, pickled chiles, spicy mustard and mayo—requires a substantial appetite and napkin supply.
A Two For One: Marlow’s Steaks shares space with the Water Ice Shoppe, a sibling business whose colloquially named “water ice” delights are Philly treats similar to Italian ices. The smooth, sorbetlike scoops come in flavors like cherry (a classic), mango and passion fruit, and can be whizzed into boozy slushies called Twisted Ices.
This story is from the 2023 Best New Restaurants package in the March 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.