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  • Monti's [Philly Cheese Steaks]

    Post #1 - February 10th, 2013, 1:54 pm
    Post #1 - February 10th, 2013, 1:54 pm Post #1 - February 10th, 2013, 1:54 pm
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    Let me start by saying that I'm not the biggest fan of Philly Cheese Steaks, at least the Philly Cheese Steaks that you can get around here (I’ve never been to Philly). That is until I went to Monti's after jimswside posted about it last March (link below). Monti's completely changed my mind about this iconic American sandwich and immediately put it in my regular rotation. Open just over a year, Jennifer Monti and James Gottwald are doing things right. They use high quality ingredients (especially the steak), import Amoroso bread direct from the source and, in a nod to tradition without compromising quality, make their own cheese sauce without resorting to the chemical concoction commonly known as Cheese Wiz (though I’m on record preferring the white american). Oh, and then there's the Tastycakes, for which I have no particular love, but are certainly a taste of home for ex-pat Philadelphians.

    When it comes to the “neighborhood” part of the Great Neighborhood Restaurant moniker, you can’t get much neighborhoodier than Monti’s. Inconveniently located on a side street running one way the wrong way, Monti’s gets very little drive-by/walk-by traffic despite being located a mere 1/2 block south of Lawrence. Jennifer and James are the congenial hosts of the bar/restaurant that mainly serves its immediate neighborhood as well as those of us “in the know”.

    I’ve tried and liked the homemade soups and several variations of the cheese steak sandwiches. I understand from others that the pizzas are pretty good as well. For the most part, comments on LTH Forum have been very positive. Here’s the main thread, although Monti’s also gets mentioned in other threads where the topic of cheese steaks in Chicago comes up. Monti’s was even mentioned in more than one poster’s best of 2012 list.

    I hereby nominate Monti's for a GNR Award!

    Monti’s “Authentic Cheesesteak”
    Image
    Pictured with extra onions and peppers from the Rocky
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #2 - February 11th, 2013, 2:05 pm
    Post #2 - February 11th, 2013, 2:05 pm Post #2 - February 11th, 2013, 2:05 pm
    I agree completely and thus second the nomination.

    TC
  • Post #3 - February 15th, 2013, 12:48 pm
    Post #3 - February 15th, 2013, 12:48 pm Post #3 - February 15th, 2013, 12:48 pm
    stevez wrote:For the most part, comments on LTH Forum have been very positive. Here’s the main thread, although Monti’s also gets mentioned in other threads where the topic of cheese steaks in Chicago comes up. Monti’s was even mentioned in more than one poster’s best of 2012 list.


    I don't have a strong opinion on the food at Monti's one way or the other, but I don't think any of these points are particularly persuasive. The comments have been pretty insignificant in number, with less than two pages total and posts from only about a dozen different people who have actually eaten the food. That two people listed it on their Best of 2012 lists is hardly a board-wide endorsement justifying GNR status. Lastly, that Monti's has one of the best cheesesteaks in Chicago is only slightly more impressive than saying Jibek Jolu has the best Kyrgyzstani food in Chicago - the competition is decidedly unimpressive.

    Hopefully this nomination will inspire more people to check out Monti's and post their thoughts, but for now I just don't see the support to justify naming it a GNR.
  • Post #4 - February 15th, 2013, 2:32 pm
    Post #4 - February 15th, 2013, 2:32 pm Post #4 - February 15th, 2013, 2:32 pm
    I strongly support this nomination. I grew up 30 miles from center city Philadelphia and I return to the area on a regular basis. I've been to Pat's, Jim's, and Geno's and quite a few other places over the years. Monti's is not just the best place for Philly cheesesteaks in Chicago, it manages to top the original. The bread is authentic (Amoroso), and the meat is significantly better than what is used in the authentic places in Philadelphia.

    To me, Monti's is the essence of a Great Neighborhood Restaurant. Personable owners, comfortable vibe, and serving the ultimate version of a ubiquitous sandwich.
  • Post #5 - February 17th, 2013, 8:52 pm
    Post #5 - February 17th, 2013, 8:52 pm Post #5 - February 17th, 2013, 8:52 pm
    First of all Chicago, Illinoizzz, let's show some respect: it's cheesesteak, not cheese steak. Okay, got that off my chest.

    I too spend a fair amount of time in Philadelphia having lived out east as a kid and still with lots of family in the city and suburban area. And I agree with FrankP that Monti's serves a better cheesesteak than any of the heavyweights in Philadelphia. The reason is pretty simple - much better quality beef. But they also make sure to serve the cheesesteaks on fresh Amoroso rolls (not so simple in Chicago) and I think they've now gotten the beef, cheese, onion ratio just right.

    Although white American cheese would not normally be my cheese of choice on any sandwich, it works extremely well on the cheesesteak and in my opinion, creates the perfect balance on the sandwich. I'm also a big fan of the Rocky, but beware it's peppery punch - they don't call it the Rocky for nothing.

    But aside from the cheesesteak, I'm also a big fan of their Italian Hoagies (sub that is, but I grew up calling it a hoagie too). A very respectable sub, with just the right ratio of meat to cheese to onions (and again served on Amoroso rolls). And I also enjoy their fries seasoned with celery salt - much better than it sounds. Beyond the obvious, Monti's also has daily specials, usually soups, and they've made some pretty damn good ones. And for those of you that haven't tried Tastykake, they carry them here. My personal favorite is the Butterscotch Krimpet.

    Aside from the food, these are really nice people running Monti's and they've also succeeded in hiring really nice people. Whether you're a regular or a newbie, you'll be treated like a regular. And whether you just want to pick up something to go after work, take your kids for a meal, or go in the evening to watch a game and grab a few beers, Monti's is a great choice. I'm thrilled to have Monti's in Lincoln Square, and more than happy to support it for a GNR.
  • Post #6 - February 17th, 2013, 10:30 pm
    Post #6 - February 17th, 2013, 10:30 pm Post #6 - February 17th, 2013, 10:30 pm
    Disagree if you must as to who has the best cheesesteak, Pat's or Geno's. Moot point as far as I am concerned, distinction without a difference, tallest midget in the world........ On a recent late eve in Philly both were horrid, less than the sum of the parts, and the parts weren't all that good.

    I've tried 4 cheesesteak shops in Philly, I did not see any redeeming quality. Fast forward to Monti's, I approached my first bite with trepidation, fool me once, shame on you, fool me 5 times I'm just a fool. Whole different ball game.

    I've had terrific sandwiches in Philly, John's roast pork, George's tripe, Dinic's roast pork and what they have in common with Monti's, aside from a Philadelphia heritage, is quality ingredients, attetion to detail and family run we care about the customer attitude. I want to thank Monti's for showing me a cheesesteak can be delicious.

    GNR, Yes absolutely!
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #7 - February 22nd, 2013, 1:30 pm
    Post #7 - February 22nd, 2013, 1:30 pm Post #7 - February 22nd, 2013, 1:30 pm
    I'd fully support this nomination and think it epitomizes what great neighborhood restaurant is. I've only been there once (sought out the wings but was won over by their cheese steak) and appreciated the attention to detail and quality products which goes into their food. The staff was friendly and welcoming, and the beer list was more creative than your average neighborhood joint.
  • Post #8 - March 2nd, 2013, 12:17 am
    Post #8 - March 2nd, 2013, 12:17 am Post #8 - March 2nd, 2013, 12:17 am
    Posting on behalf on Mr. lemoneater, who thinks well of the Where's the Beef? sandwich. (Yes, vegetarians can eat there too). I agree that the quality of the sandwich is very high... I think I'm just not personally inclined towards the genre. So, overall, a yes.
    "To get long" meant to make do, to make well of whatever we had; it was about having a long view, which was endurance, and a long heart, which was hope.
    - Fae Myenne Ng, Bone
  • Post #9 - March 2nd, 2013, 11:39 am
    Post #9 - March 2nd, 2013, 11:39 am Post #9 - March 2nd, 2013, 11:39 am
    Monti's Philly cheese steak sandwiches were a real eye opener for me. I went from thinking I didn't even like cheese steaks to actually craving them from time to time. But other items I've ordered at Monti's have been great, too. The fried calamari, which is accompanied by thin slices of fried lemon and hot banana peppers, is fantastic. The pizza, with its flavorful, ultra-thin, crispy crust is excellent. Even the wedge salad is great.

    I'm not as big a fan of the cocktails or spirits selection as I am of the food but the beer list is solid and makes for a better pairing, anyway.

    I definitely support this nomination.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French

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