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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Bob Greene column

There's something about Italian beef. Here in Chicago, it is a local sandwich, a layer of marinated roast beef, some juice on a French baggette. Simple? As I've gotten older I've realized it's not all the same. Jays does a good job. Romas, on Milwaukee, (there is another unrelated Romas on Cicero that I continue to like), unfortunately fell out of favor with me this year. The texture of the beef and ultimately its taste was lacking. A little place in Cicero, Freddy's Grocery is the best place I've ever had.

I don't think the beef has to be Scala's, I'm not even sure if that helps. But I know it has to be real beef (sorry Arby's, whatever the roast beef cut you serve is, it's not the same cut), thinly sliced and marinated overnight.

Really, Italian beef, because it is often a restaurant by restaurant product, is much more a local product than the hot dog. Even the choice of bread, often a bakery product delivered in the morning, seems regional, based on the which of the local bakeries delivers in that area.

I've had the impression that South Side and West Side beef, including Cicero, are the best. I'm from the North Side, and we have good beef joints here. But, they aren't the best. Part of that strength is that there is a strong Italian community in parts of the city that enjoy a good beef.

On the North Side, my neighbors enjoy Korean, Thai and Mexican rather than Italian dinners. It's so chic to be eating stuff you can't make at home I guess. And, they have the impression that a dog or a beef are bad for you.

Dipped, wet or dry (try to find a common explanation of that, please), hot, sweet, giardinara or without. I'll choose Italian beef.

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