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Best Italian Beef

Best Italian Beef
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  • Post #751 - August 4th, 2016, 6:06 pm
    Post #751 - August 4th, 2016, 6:06 pm Post #751 - August 4th, 2016, 6:06 pm
    George R wrote:First, Herm's beef was, as Ram4 noted, cut more thickly. It wasn't terrible, but not as thin as I would like. Poochie's was nice and thin. There were a few crumbles but it mostly held up well.

    Either would do if you were in the area and Jonesing for an IB, but not a reason for a special trip. Of course, both places have plenty more on the menu which is usually the real reason for a Dempster Street journey.
    Interesting, they still aren't going thinner even though they were appreciative of what I was suggesting. The main guy/owner(?) I talked to said he didn't want to go too thin because it would shred the meat. Some of the best beefs around end up with shredded, super tender meat which I should have pointed out. Anyone know a trick as to how they could slice the meat paper thin (like Portillo's does for instance)?

    I agree with your assessment. It would do if you were in the mood for an IB in that immediate area, but not destination worthy for an IB.
  • Post #752 - August 5th, 2016, 7:12 am
    Post #752 - August 5th, 2016, 7:12 am Post #752 - August 5th, 2016, 7:12 am
    To slice thin, after roasting the beef, let cool and put it in a cold place. When the meat is close to frozen, using a high quality slicer, you can cut it very, very thin. When I make my own, the shreds near the end of use are fantastic.
  • Post #753 - August 5th, 2016, 7:39 am
    Post #753 - August 5th, 2016, 7:39 am Post #753 - August 5th, 2016, 7:39 am
    Puckjam wrote:To slice thin, after roasting the beef, let cool and put it in a cold place. When the meat is close to frozen, using a high quality slicer, you can cut it very, very thin. When I make my own, the shreds near the end of use are fantastic.


    In New Orleans, that's call debris. I love me a good debris po boy.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #754 - August 5th, 2016, 11:47 am
    Post #754 - August 5th, 2016, 11:47 am Post #754 - August 5th, 2016, 11:47 am
    Best Italian Beef in Illinois (according to readers of USA Today)?

    Novi's Beef
    6746 Ogden Ave, Berwyn
    (708) 749-0895
    http://www.novisbeef.com/

    http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/bes ... -illinois/

    Johnnie's came in at #9
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #755 - August 5th, 2016, 12:07 pm
    Post #755 - August 5th, 2016, 12:07 pm Post #755 - August 5th, 2016, 12:07 pm
    Note that chains Buona #2 and Portillo's #4 scored high. I like the IBs I've had from both, but doubt I would put them ahead of Johnnie's. Contests based on popular votes reflect public familiarity with a product as well as perceived product quality.

    I haven't had a Novi's IB so I can't comment on their beef.
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #756 - August 5th, 2016, 12:51 pm
    Post #756 - August 5th, 2016, 12:51 pm Post #756 - August 5th, 2016, 12:51 pm
    It appears that the list is upside down.
  • Post #757 - August 5th, 2016, 1:00 pm
    Post #757 - August 5th, 2016, 1:00 pm Post #757 - August 5th, 2016, 1:00 pm
    Stumbled upon Tommy's Italian Beef, Etc. when some other business took me to Mt. Prospect recently. I searched the thread (and the site) but couldn't find any direct hits. Any intel on this place? I saw an article in The Daily Herald in which the owner claims that just about everything is made in house. Thanks.

    712 Northwest Hwy
    Mt Prospect, IL 60056
    (847) 398-6800

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

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  • Post #758 - August 5th, 2016, 1:09 pm
    Post #758 - August 5th, 2016, 1:09 pm Post #758 - August 5th, 2016, 1:09 pm
    Like you, I had read some good things about Tommy's in the Herald about 4-5 years ago. It is on a route I take occasionally so I stopped. This was about 4 years ago. It was mediocre and I have not stopped back. Usually, I would give it a couple of shots, but I do not traverse that route enough to do that.
  • Post #759 - August 5th, 2016, 1:39 pm
    Post #759 - August 5th, 2016, 1:39 pm Post #759 - August 5th, 2016, 1:39 pm
    Puckjam wrote:It appears that the list is upside down.


    Pretty much.
    Novi's can be "good," but...Al's (on Taylor...)
    Al's is what beef should be. Minus the price.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #760 - August 5th, 2016, 2:17 pm
    Post #760 - August 5th, 2016, 2:17 pm Post #760 - August 5th, 2016, 2:17 pm
    seebee wrote:
    Puckjam wrote:It appears that the list is upside down.


    Pretty much.
    Novi's can be "good," but...Al's (on Taylor...)
    Al's is what beef should be. Minus the price.

    Ballot stuffing. I have seen this done many times with local contests. I remember when Twisted Spoke won best burger several years in a row and when I stopped by, no.

    I might give Novi's another try though...

    Groupon available
    They do make deep fried taco's (think Jack in the Box)
    Close to home
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #761 - August 6th, 2016, 11:38 pm
    Post #761 - August 6th, 2016, 11:38 pm Post #761 - August 6th, 2016, 11:38 pm
    Off the beaten path both geographically and gastronomically, the New Oberpfalz Brewing in Griffith, Indiana serves a terrific tri-tip sandwich. The meat is very beefy (more so than your run-of-the mill IB) and served with jus, green peppers on a nicely squishy roll. Their beers are also superb.

    New Oberpfalz Brewing
    121 East Main Street
    Griffith, IN
  • Post #762 - August 8th, 2016, 4:57 pm
    Post #762 - August 8th, 2016, 4:57 pm Post #762 - August 8th, 2016, 4:57 pm
    I don't know who voted a million times for Novi's, but there it is.

    The top 10 winners in the category Best Italian Beef in Illinois are as follows:

    Novi's Beef - Berwyn (pretty good beef, not really destination worthy)
    Buona - Chicago (a local chain that serves another decent beef at best)
    Original Mr. Beef - Homer Glen (a top 10, but I prefer Mama D's in Lemont)
    Portillo's - Various Locations (a sentimental favorite, and still can be great)
    Fabulous Freddies Italian Eatery - Chicago (terrible)
    Tony's Italian Beef - Chicago (terrible, overrated)
    Jay's Beef - Chicago (it's not bad, people who grew up with it love it)
    Bob-O's Hot Dogs - Chicago (solid beef)
    Johnnie's Beef - Elmwood Park (in my top 5)
    Al's Italian Beef - Chicago (in my top 5)

    I would keep four - Johnnie's, Al's, Portillo's and Original Mr. Beef in Homer Glen and add six more for my top 10:
    Mr. Beef and Pizza (Chicago)
    Mama D's (Lemont)
    Frannie's (Schiller Park)
    Scatchell's (Cicero)
    Chickie's (Hillside)
    Frangella (Palos Park)

    I still have to try a handful more including Freddy's (Cicero).
  • Post #763 - August 8th, 2016, 5:02 pm
    Post #763 - August 8th, 2016, 5:02 pm Post #763 - August 8th, 2016, 5:02 pm
    George R wrote:First, Herm's beef was, as Ram4 noted, cut more thickly. It wasn't terrible, but not as thin as I would like. Poochie's was nice and thin. There were a few crumbles but it mostly held up well.
    Well George, my brother and his friend had beefs last week at Herm's and they had the same thing as well - beef cut too thick. So we're done with Herm's for beef. What a shame, they could have been a destination for it as it's pretty good overall, but they simply don't get it. If I was with him and his friend I would have asked/confronted (nicely) the owner about it, but my brother is not like me. :twisted:
  • Post #764 - August 8th, 2016, 7:07 pm
    Post #764 - August 8th, 2016, 7:07 pm Post #764 - August 8th, 2016, 7:07 pm
    Ram4, good call on Mr. Beef & Pizza. For some reason, I always forget about them and hit Jays or Bob-O's instead. I've got to get back over there soon. It really is a solid beef.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #765 - August 8th, 2016, 9:29 pm
    Post #765 - August 8th, 2016, 9:29 pm Post #765 - August 8th, 2016, 9:29 pm
    Given the popularity of this native Chicago delicacy, I wonder why there aren't more well-regarded beef stands in the city other than Mr. Beef on Orleans and the River North Portillo's. I live in Wicker Park, and if I want a beef I have to go to either the Al's franchise on Milwaukee (mediocre at best) or Choppers on Ashland (never tried). I'm not counting Boston's, which is a rather remote industrialized area.
  • Post #766 - August 9th, 2016, 9:54 am
    Post #766 - August 9th, 2016, 9:54 am Post #766 - August 9th, 2016, 9:54 am
    ld111134 wrote:Given the popularity of this native Chicago delicacy, I wonder why there aren't more well-regarded beef stands in the city other than Mr. Beef on Orleans and the River North Portillo's. I live in Wicker Park, and if I want a beef I have to go to either the Al's franchise on Milwaukee (mediocre at best) or Choppers on Ashland (never tried). I'm not counting Boston's, which is a rather remote industrialized area.


    Or Jay's on North Ave or The Hat on North Ave...

    Not saying those are great (even though Jay's is fairly well-regarded), but there are options. Every neighborhood can't have the best beef (or anything).
  • Post #767 - August 9th, 2016, 11:04 am
    Post #767 - August 9th, 2016, 11:04 am Post #767 - August 9th, 2016, 11:04 am
    Ram4 wrote:
    Well George, my brother and his friend had beefs last week at Herm's and they had the same thing as well - beef cut too thick. So we're done with Herm's for beef. What a shame, they could have been a destination for it as it's pretty good overall, but they simply don't get it. If I was with him and his friend I would have asked/confronted (nicely) the owner about it, but my brother is not like me. :twisted:


    Ram4 has posted several times about the importance of slicing the beef thinly. There are many factors in creating a top-notch Italian Beef, but you've convinced me that this is one of the most important factors, if not THE most important.

    Slicing beef very thin minimizes any issues with toughness of the meat and creates more surface area to hold the juice which adds to the flavor. If this is not done right it offsets doing a lot of other things properly.

    Thanks for emphasizing this.
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #768 - August 9th, 2016, 11:12 am
    Post #768 - August 9th, 2016, 11:12 am Post #768 - August 9th, 2016, 11:12 am
    1d111134 wrote:
    Given the popularity of this native Chicago delicacy, I wonder why there aren't more well-regarded beef stands in the city other than Mr. Beef on Orleans and the River North Portillo's. I live in Wicker Park, and if I want a beef I have to go to either the Al's franchise on Milwaukee (mediocre at best) or Choppers on Ashland (never tried). I'm not counting Boston's, which is a rather remote industrialized area.


    Sadly I think the answer is it's easy to do mediocre. During the beefathons of long ago we found that preparation was key. Too many places just take beef from a supplier, drop it in the hot juice and wait for someone to come in and order one. By that time the beef is overcooked.

    I think kudos should particularly go to Portillo's. They're a chain with a central commissary (from what I've read in business news), but consistently get it right. That takes good management.
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #769 - August 9th, 2016, 11:22 am
    Post #769 - August 9th, 2016, 11:22 am Post #769 - August 9th, 2016, 11:22 am
    For a fast food type place, it makes the most sense to go thin for all of those reasons. It is also easier to control the process if they are very thin. That being said, thick pieces done right can be awfully good, the only problem is control of the process. Much more difficult. It is like grilling a good steak or thick chop in that you have a short window when it is at its best. That is because it needs to tenderize in the juice, so timing is critical. It needs to be watched constantly.
  • Post #770 - August 9th, 2016, 11:40 am
    Post #770 - August 9th, 2016, 11:40 am Post #770 - August 9th, 2016, 11:40 am
    ziggy wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:Given the popularity of this native Chicago delicacy, I wonder why there aren't more well-regarded beef stands in the city other than Mr. Beef on Orleans and the River North Portillo's. I live in Wicker Park, and if I want a beef I have to go to either the Al's franchise on Milwaukee (mediocre at best) or Choppers on Ashland (never tried). I'm not counting Boston's, which is a rather remote industrialized area.


    Or Jay's on North Ave or The Hat on North Ave...

    Not saying those are great (even though Jay's is fairly well-regarded), but there are options. Every neighborhood can't have the best beef (or anything).



    I've been to the North Avenue Jay's Beef and it was good but not especially memorable.

    The Hat in literally around the corner from our home. I've had their Chicago-style and chili dogs and their rendition of the mother-in-law, and they were all good. I'll check out their beef soon.
  • Post #771 - August 9th, 2016, 2:34 pm
    Post #771 - August 9th, 2016, 2:34 pm Post #771 - August 9th, 2016, 2:34 pm
    George R wrote:Ram4 has posted several times about the importance of slicing the beef thinly. There are many factors in creating a top-notch Italian Beef, but you've convinced me that this is one of the most important factors, if not THE most important.

    Dry Italian beef is a deal killer for me, thin a plus, to a point, but Herms beef on today's wet/combo/giardiniera was tender and moist even if cut slightly thicker than, for example, Al's or Johnnie's. While there was no char flavor on the sausage I liked the texture and visible fennel seeds.

    Its been a while since I've had a beef/sausage combo and Herm's hit the spot. It was crowded, but the line moved fast, there was seating and the counter guys were quirky and funny especially with the regulars.

    Herms5.jpg Herm's, Italian beef/sausage combo, wet with giardiniera


    Herm's combo, count me a fan.
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #772 - August 11th, 2016, 11:59 am
    Post #772 - August 11th, 2016, 11:59 am Post #772 - August 11th, 2016, 11:59 am
    I've become addicted to Beef Shack. Yes, I know the garlic is nontraditional, but the quality of the meat is excellent; it's fresh, moist, beefy, and not covered up with oregano.

    Funny enough, I'm not a fan of their signature Cheesy Beef. It covers up all that nice beef flavor I just raved about. I order the regular beef with the garlic (a combination not on their menu, but they'll make it) and love it.
    "I've always thought pastrami was the most sensuous of the salted cured meats."
  • Post #773 - August 11th, 2016, 4:21 pm
    Post #773 - August 11th, 2016, 4:21 pm Post #773 - August 11th, 2016, 4:21 pm
    Ram4 wrote:Mama D's (Lemont)


    Found myself down that way for work on Tuesday and stopped by here for a beef due to your rec/praise. Damn good beef, even though the bread did not hold up to the dip at all. I did half/half for the peppers and really enjoyed the spice level and crispness of the giardiniera. Also a very good fry job on the food service crinkle cuts. This joint would definitely be a favorite of mine if I were ever in the area with any regularity.
  • Post #774 - August 13th, 2016, 3:09 pm
    Post #774 - August 13th, 2016, 3:09 pm Post #774 - August 13th, 2016, 3:09 pm
    ziggy wrote:
    Ram4 wrote:Mama D's (Lemont)


    Found myself down that way for work on Tuesday and stopped by here for a beef due to your rec/praise. Damn good beef, even though the bread did not hold up to the dip at all. I did half/half for the peppers and really enjoyed the spice level and crispness of the giardiniera. Also a very good fry job on the food service crinkle cuts. This joint would definitely be a favorite of mine if I were ever in the area with any regularity.
    Glad you checked them out. I've been there twice so far and each time it was great. I get them dipped and there was no way of the bread not holding up so maybe yours was submerged and drowned? Funny you gave praise to the frozen crinkle fries. I really like them at Mama D's. My brother and I had eaten at Frangella and Pop's before hitting Mama D's on our last beef trip. I was already full (made the mistake of eating a whole Frangella beef on a beef tour, one of the biggest beef sandwiches anywhere, had I known I would have split it and still had a decent sized half). I tell my brother to order one big (9 inch) beef and we'll split it. He ordered the big beef, AND a mother in-law AND fries. Fries?! What are you doing? Why would you waste calories on frozen fries? I happen to love most fries, fresh or frozen so I ate some. They were great, nice and extra crispy too. Who knew? Glad you liked it as much as me.
  • Post #775 - August 20th, 2016, 9:58 pm
    Post #775 - August 20th, 2016, 9:58 pm Post #775 - August 20th, 2016, 9:58 pm
    I had a beef sandwich from The Hat this evening. I have to say that it was good - not great, but good. The meat was tasty and the giardinara hit the spot.

    I don't know if they roast the beef in house, and the giardinara probably came from a vendor, but it was a solid sandwich and enough to sate this city-dweller. After all, Johnnie's, Original Mr. Beef, Novi's, Momma D's, Beef Shack, etc. are located in terra incognita as far as I'm concerned. :lol:

    https://flic.kr/p/LnmTge
  • Post #776 - August 22nd, 2016, 5:48 pm
    Post #776 - August 22nd, 2016, 5:48 pm Post #776 - August 22nd, 2016, 5:48 pm
    ld111134 wrote:I had a beef sandwich from The Hat this evening. I have to say that it was good - not great, but good. The meat was tasty and the giardinara hit the spot.

    I don't know if they roast the beef in house, and the giardinara probably came from a vendor, but it was a solid sandwich and enough to sate this city-dweller. After all, Johnnie's, Original Mr. Beef, Novi's, Mama D's, Beef Shack, etc. are located in terra incognita as far as I'm concerned. :lol:

    https://flic.kr/p/LnmTge
    Like I said, you have to be willing to drive to get a great beef around the city. It's just how it is. Thanks for mentioning The Hat and that's is just "good." I'll take a pass on that one for now.
  • Post #777 - August 22nd, 2016, 5:51 pm
    Post #777 - August 22nd, 2016, 5:51 pm Post #777 - August 22nd, 2016, 5:51 pm
    Independent George wrote:I've become addicted to Beef Shack. Yes, I know the garlic is nontraditional, but the quality of the meat is excellent; it's fresh, moist, beefy, and not covered up with oregano.

    Funny enough, I'm not a fan of their signature Cheesy Beef. It covers up all that nice beef flavor I just raved about. I order the regular beef with the garlic (a combination not on their menu, but they'll make it) and love it.
    Garlic meaning garlic bread? It sounds interesting - I'd try one. Is the Hoffman Estates location considered as good as St. Charles?
  • Post #778 - August 23rd, 2016, 3:14 pm
    Post #778 - August 23rd, 2016, 3:14 pm Post #778 - August 23rd, 2016, 3:14 pm
    Independent George wrote:I've become addicted to Beef Shack. Yes, I know the garlic is nontraditional, but the quality of the meat is excellent; it's fresh, moist, beefy, and not covered up with oregano.

    Funny enough, I'm not a fan of their signature Cheesy Beef. It covers up all that nice beef flavor I just raved about. I order the regular beef with the garlic (a combination not on their menu, but they'll make it) and love it.


    I just tried the Beef Shack for the first time today. I went to the one in St. Charles.

    I did not order the garlic as I wanted to try it straight. They have a strange set up. From what I can see, if you order the cheesy beef they make it on the left side of the counter and then put it through the little conveyor belt heater to melt the cheese. If you order without the cheese they just send the bun through the heater and the beef comes after from the right side of the counter. IOW, you get different meat depending on how you order.

    This creates a real oddity. When I was there it seemed that everyone was ordering with cheese. That meant mine came from a pan of beef that had sat in the juice a tad too long. The beef had started to shrivel. It was still decent, but I suspect could be better.

    But the real star of the show were the fries. Fresh cut and cook perfectly. I will be back there just for the fries. Not sure I'd make the trip for the beef alone. But it's the first place I've had good fries since I moved out this way 2+ years ago.
  • Post #779 - September 8th, 2016, 2:55 pm
    Post #779 - September 8th, 2016, 2:55 pm Post #779 - September 8th, 2016, 2:55 pm
    Went to Franco's in Naperville today. What a tasty beef! The fries were worthless frozen skinny ones, so don't bother with that. Nice, big sandwich- a little bready (should have gotten it wet). Very minimalist menu, Beef, Hot Dog, Meatball and Chicken Parm. They should have another side like a pasta salad. Heads and shoulders above Portillos if you are in the Western Suburbs.

    Image
  • Post #780 - September 8th, 2016, 3:32 pm
    Post #780 - September 8th, 2016, 3:32 pm Post #780 - September 8th, 2016, 3:32 pm
    I never heard of Franco's, I will probably be checking it out, thanks (and thanks for the fries info). But dude come on - you didn't get the sandwich dipped to begin with?! :wink:

    I had Frannie's in Schiller Park again on Tuesday. They definitely do a solid beef. For some reason it lacks salt, but I suppose that's better than too much salt. Great bread too. They do natural casing with fresh cut fries wrapped together like Red Hot Ranch for those looking for the 1-2 punch.

    My brother has had Beef Shack a few times and said if you don't get the beef on garlic with cheese which they're known for, and you want a regular Italian Beef, it's nothing special (which is why Dolinsky avoided it when he rated 31 joints).

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