Jon Scoggin has loved to cook for as long as he can remember, but despite working in restaurants for years, he turned in his apron for a rung on the corporate ladder. Even as he was building a successful career in mortgage banking, Scoggin, continued to dream of opening a pizza parlor, doughnut shop or sandwich shack to satisfy his love of feeding folks.
Eventually, the mortgage banker’s love of cheesesteak sandwiches got the better of him. He turned in his coat and tie for a place behind the grill at his brand new restaurant, Mojo’s East Coast Eats.
Open for just over a month, the Downers Grove sandwich shop stands as a bright and airy homage to traditional east coast fare. Career changer Scoggin, grew up in Doylestown, Pa., and fondly remembers taking sightseeing tours of nearby Philadelphia where he would nosh on authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwiches
“Philly’s signature sandwich is as iconic as Chicago’s Italian beef,” says Scoggin, “and outside of the city it is next to impossible to find and authentic version.”
After moving to Chicago 11 years ago, Scoggin was dismayed to discover many lackluster interpretations of his favorite classic sandwich in the Midwest. So he is bringing a taste of his childhood city to the Chicago suburbs.
“To me a proper Philly cheesesteak is a pretty specific thing,” says Scoggin, “the bread is the most important component.” Mojo’s cheesesteaks rely on Philadelphia’s famous heath baked rolls from Amoroso’s Bakery. The rolls offer a crunchy exterior and soft, toothsome inside bite making them the perfect textural foil for a myriad of sandwich fillings.
Served alongside a generous portion of hand-cut fries, Mojo’s version of the cheesesteak ($10.50) features 8-ounces of shaved rib-eye. Scoggin uses top quality rib-eye and prizes the cut of beef for its bold flavor and ideal texture. He seasons the meat with nothing more than a mixture of garlic, salt and pepper before grilling it with a healthy dose of onions.
Whether patrons choose to finish their sandwich with traditional cheese whiz, white American cheese or Provolone, Scoggin chops the cheese into the meat at the end of the high heat cooking to ensure melted cheese permeates every bite of Mojo’s cheesesteak.
“People are taken aback by the idea of Cheese Whiz at first,” says Scoggin of the bright orange cheese spread, “but it is an unexplained and delicious east coast phenomenon.” It’s true, few Midwesterners go back after trying Whiz on a cheesesteak. Use proper Philly lingo and order a “wiz-wit” at Mojo’s. That popular order gets you a cheese steak topped with cheese wiz (Whiz) and grilled onions (wit).
Scoggin expands on tradition by offering twists on his cheesesteak cookery.
Of particular interest, Mojo’s Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak ($9.75), lets adventurous diners add a little spice to their life. Chopped grilled chicken is layered with melted provolone cheese before being bathed in spicy buffalo sauce. A drizzle of bleu cheese dressing finishes the robust sandwich.
In addition to offering memorable cheesesteaks, Mojo’s peddles another east coast favorite: The Hoagie. Mojo’s east coast style riff on submarine sandwiches are piled high with Philly’s Dietz and Watson deli meats and cheeses.
The Duke ($9.85) features a fresh Amoroso roll bursting with salami, spicy capicola, pepperoni, provolone cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, oregano, mayonnaise, oil and vinegar. The simple sandwich is elevated by the quality ingredients Scoggin insists on using in his Hoagies making The Duke both filling and delicious.
Mojo’s East Coast Eats, serving breakfast and lunch six days per week, successfully eclipses typical hotdog stand fare and offers hungry folks a mealtime option that goes well beyond predictable chain restaurant sandwiches. Mojo’s simple, honest menu will surely comfort any east coast craving with authentic taste rarely found outside Philadelphia.