I wanna be like Will (Special, that is!)
A few weeks ago, I took a walking and tasting tour of Highwood. The most significant bit I learned was I did not have to go to Bari Foods or the Riviera for a made-to-order Italian sandwich. I could go to Bacio’s or Poeta’s markets, pick bread from the bin and place my order at the counter.
To test this opportunity, I went to Riviera
for the very first time to order “The Will Special."
Will Special: Hot Sopressata; Hot Cappicola: Salame de Prosciutto; Prosciutto Ham; (Roast Beef on Fridays was added a few months later);fresh mozzarella, a just a bit of hot giardinera on a roll I picked myself from the bread bin.
The counterman looked me over and asked if I was a friend of Will’s, which I acknowledged. I had the sandwich made to Will’s spec up to the hot giardinera where I made a slight departure to sweet peppers. I learned directly from Will that early versions of the Will Special did include sweet peppers, so I wasn’t breaking new ground. The cost of the Will Special on this occasion was $3.50
Riviera's Will Special
As expected, this was an outstanding sandwich and one, which I will use to measure the Highwood Italian sandwiches against.
My first Highwood stop was to Bacio’s Italian Market, where I described the Will Special faithfully. My sandwich was quite close to the Riv’s, except they sliced from a larger ball of fresh mozzarella instead arranging small balls of fresh mozzarella as they do at the Riv. I’ve had this sandwich twice, the first time without my camera, it cost $5.50 the first time and $5.25 the second time.
Bacio's Will Special
Next stop was to Poeta’s, where I asked for the Will Special and a second sandwich whatever the house special may be. My request for a house special seemed to throw them off, though they suggested an Italian submarine. In the end, they served me two Will Special’s because the counterman decided he couldn’t do better than my original request. Poeta’s does sell fresh mozzarella but none was available for sandwiches, instead they sliced regular mozzarella. I had asked for sweet peppers, instead they used a mild, but not hot, giardinera with capers in it. The cost was $5.95.
Poeta's Will Special
The Poeta’s sandwich didn’t ring my bell, like those from Bacio’s and Riviera’s. It just wasn’t the difference in cheese and peppers, it just seemed less meaty.
Another aspect which will cause me to lean to Bacio’s in the future, they offer two different kinds of homemade soups every day. Today I had Minestrone and last week Pasta Fagioli. Poeta’s offers frozen soup-to-go. When Bacio’s filled my quart sized container with Pasta Fagioli, they added the pasta separately to keep it from being prematurely mushy. . Bacio’s has tables and chairs set up just inside their door, though going to the beach, park or home are options are well.
Afterwards, you can go to Bacio’s recently opened coffee and Gelato parlor:
It’s rather ironic how long I have wanted to go to Riviera, then found I could get almost the same so close to home.
Bacio Italian Deli
424 Sheridan Road
Highwood, IL 60040
Poeta's Food MKT
520 Green Bay Road
Highwood, IL 60040
3220 N Harlem Ave
Chicago, IL 60634
"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie DupreeFacebook
, Greater Midwest Foodways
, Road Food 2012: Podcast