Why: Philly Bilmos serves up authentic Philly cheesesteaks in addition to hot and cold Italian subs on Philadelphia’s own Amoroso bread. Sauces are housemade. Pasta dishes, Boar’s Head brand hot dogs, and a variety of sides that include chili cheese fries, mozzarella sticks, and chicken strips are also on the menu.
Atmosphere: Navy blue walls are decorated with a few photos of New York City scenes and product promotional posters. A chalkboard menu is hung above a freestanding drink cooler and a paper menu is available at the order counter for closer inspection. Seating consists of a wall bench with tables faced by chairs, as well as a few tables on the open floor. There is also a small bar counter with a couple of bar stools that takes up a small portion of the back of the restaurant. Newspapers are available for diners to catch up on the local beat, and there is a large screen TV, viewable from most seating areas. Overall, it’s a no-frills sort of place where the focus is on providing diners with an authentic East Coast favorite.
What I tried: Since I am already familiar with Philly Bilmos cheesesteaks, I decided to try something else and see how it compared. I settled on the Eggplant Parmesan from the hot sub options and added a small salad to complete my meal.
The salad consisted of romaine lettuce, sliced olives, a couple of tomato wedges and pepperoncinis with a touch of grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top. I decided to forgo salad dressing and drizzle the juice from the pepperoncinis in its place. Instead of a plate, the salad was served in a foil bowl. I found the salad to be a perfect fresh vegetable accompaniment to the sandwich.
Red sauce used on sandwiches and pasta has the tangy sweet presence of fresh tomatoes. This was added to my eggplant parmesan sandwich along with mozzarella cheese and three moderately sized slices of breaded, grilled eggplant. I especially liked the chewy saltiness of the cheese, which also lent a meaty quality to the eggplant. As for the comparison to the cheesesteak sandwich -- the eggplant sandwich is a good choice to satisfy a lighter appetite because it’s not quite as filling.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The loaded Bilmo cheesesteak consists of steak or chicken, cheese, onions, mushrooms, peppers, mayo, lettuce and tomatoes.
Popular choices among regular diners include the roasted pork, which is served hot on garlic bread, and the meatball hoagie made with housemade 100 percent beef meatballs.
From the pasta options, the baked ziti sounded delicious, as did the chicken Parmesan. Pastas come with a small salad and garlic bread. Pasta dishes are served after 2 p.m.
Other observations: For those who are heartbroken over the recent demise of Hostess, you may find a new love with Philly Tastykakes, which can be purchased at Philly Bilmos.
The service was friendly and the food is made-to-order fresh.
Cost: Sides range from $1.50 to $6.95. Pastas cost $9 to $12. Hot subs, cold subs, and cheesesteak sandwiches come in 8-inch and 16-inch varieties, starting out at $7.25 and topping out at $14.75. Hot dogs are $2.25 (you may add cheese for an additional 40 cents).
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Where: 2100 S.E. 164th Ave., Vancouver. www.phillybilmos.com.
Health score: Philly Bilmos received a score of 0 on Oct. 11. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.