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Scala's Italian beef
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  • Scala's Italian beef

    Post #1 - August 17th, 2004, 9:19 pm
    Post #1 - August 17th, 2004, 9:19 pm Post #1 - August 17th, 2004, 9:19 pm
    First, thanks to Cathy2 for alerting everyone to Pat Scala's talk at the Culinary Historians of Chicago on Saturday, August 14th. I didn't take notes, but this is a rough outline based on memory, a company brochure and overheard conversation. Corrections and additions are appreciated.

    Pat Scala gave a nice talk about how the Italian beef sandwich came into being and his family firm's close relationship with that Chicago food icon. He's a pleasant unpretentious fellow who modestly said he doesn't claim that his grandfather invented the sandwich, but that Scala Packing played an important role in promoting and developing it.

    His grandfather Pasquale Scala, who had been a winemaker in Naples, came to Chicago circa World War I. Initially he survived as a peddler and then became a maker of sausages. Scala Packing was established on the West Side in 1925 where it produced meats in the back and sold them in the front.

    Among the products was beef seasoned Italian style. It was originally a plate dish.

    During the Great Depression everyone stretched to make the most of what little they had. (Political junkies and language historians note that 'depression' was President Hoover's euphemism for 'hard times.' Years later 'recession' became a euphemism for 'depression.') One development resulting from hard times was something called 'peanut' weddings because food offerings at these celebrations were limited.

    Besides bowls of peanuts, the food included Italian beef sandwiches. The beef was sliced thin to make it go further. To bulk up the sandwich it was dipped in the highly seasoned au-jus, and then vegetables (giardinera) were added.

    After World War II a few places began to serve Italian beef sandwiches. Among the early ones were Carm's BBQ and Marge's BBQ, both on Cicero Avenue. Carm's was about 1/2 mile south of Madison. Marge's was some distance north of Madison. Note: Marge's closed about a year ago per Shannon Clark's report. However, Carm's Beef continues under the same family at 1801 S. Wolf Road, Hillside. They are not related to the Carm's on Polk Street in Chicago. Another early beef stand was Al's on Taylor Street which is still going strong.

    Initially the primary business at both Carm's and Marge's was charcoal grilled sausages (thus the BBQ designation). A fair amount of business came from people who drove past and smelled the grilling sausages (no car air conditioners in those days).

    Eventually Italian beef sandwiches were added to provide variety to the menu. Over time their popularity grew until they surpassed sausage sandwiches. More beef stands appeared across the Chicago area.

    In 1980 Chicago Magazine had an extensive article on Italian beef which boosted interest further. Today the sandwich is catching on outside the Chicago area. Scala's now provides beef sandwiches at football games for schools such as Nebraska, Iowa and Iowa State. They've provided sandwiches at Wrigley Field for some time. Also, Scala's supplies grocery stores such as Jewel, Dominick's, etc.

    The talk was followed by a question and answer session. Gary of course asked in-depth questions about processing. Pat Scala had emphasized that his meat products are natural, meaning they are not injected with solutions the way that most packers do.

    Afterwards, we had a chance to sample the goodies. Freshly-made Italian beef sandwiches were offered with hot or mild giardinera. The bread was from Gonella. The sandwiches were excellent, better than at most beef stands.

    Which raises some interesting questions. Scala's supplies meat to many beef stands (both raw and processed). Why were these sandwiches better than usual? I think this goes back to comments in corned beef discussions - it depends on how the meat is handled by the restaurant/sandwich stand operator.

    Pat Scala alluded to operators who don't maintain standards and his efforts to bring them up to speed. If I recall correctly, in the 1980 Chicago Magazine article it was mentioned that some stands had used Scala's as a vendor temporarily to get the Scala sign, then switched to a cheaper source.
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #2 - August 18th, 2004, 8:48 am
    Post #2 - August 18th, 2004, 8:48 am Post #2 - August 18th, 2004, 8:48 am
    I am a member of The Culinary Historians, so I generally go to the lectures, but I was particularly excited about the Scala lecture. I had every intention of seeing to it that a long-standing debate was settled...

    George R, you did a great job with the writeup, but for me, at least, there is one glaring omission--and that is the subject of the aforementioned "debate." Pat Scala acknowledged that they are the exclusive vendor to Johnny's in Elmwood Park for sausages, as well as the "raw" materials for the beef sandwiches. In addition, he said that they provide Johnny's with "supplemental" supplies for the beef sandwiches when so needed. Debate settled!

    Gary and I pulled Pat aside after the lecture, where he shared another very interesting tidbit. Pat said that Mr. Beef, on Orleans, was originally owned by the Scala family. According to Pat, it was sold to the current owners sometime in the early 80s.

    Erik M.
  • Post #3 - August 18th, 2004, 9:19 am
    Post #3 - August 18th, 2004, 9:19 am Post #3 - August 18th, 2004, 9:19 am
    Hi,

    Saturday's Culinary Historian's guest speaker Pat Scala from Scala's Beef was very good and very open with information. Lots was learned during question & answer with Gary and Erik doing question tag team. I heard people whispering, "They must be in the business." Afterwards, they explained to Pat they are just food enthusiasts.

    This was a record for Culinary Historians, there were at least 9 known LTH people in the room.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #4 - August 18th, 2004, 9:28 am
    Post #4 - August 18th, 2004, 9:28 am Post #4 - August 18th, 2004, 9:28 am
    Great reports. Wish I could have gone. One interesting side note here, I think, is the lost or overlooked "Italian BBQ" culture of Chicago. It's interesting that the original beef stands started out as places offering charcoal-grilled Italian sausages and later added Italian beef.

    For my money, the sausages bring all of the atmosphereics to the great beef stands. That smell at Johnnie's is the smell of sausage fat on hot coals; so too Al's, and even Boston's -- a very old-timer with "BBQ" still in the name. The great swords full of Scala links, lined up over while embers are maybe evidence of a Mediterranean "BBQ" geneology with branches from Turkey to Sao Paolo.

    Much of the flavor of the beef also borrows from these sausages (a little like the shared rodizio and KC BBQ technique of stacking sausages above the leaner cuts). That is, notice that Johnnie's dipping jus is filled with the fatty, carmelized links.

    It wil be interesting to see what Portillo does with the Italian beef and sausage sandwiches in California. I have my doubts. When beef is good, its very good, but when it's bad it's plain awful. QC seems like a challenge with this tricky stuff. (Much like Philly Cheesesteak, or New Haven pizza, which seem not to travel.)
  • Post #5 - August 18th, 2004, 9:41 am
    Post #5 - August 18th, 2004, 9:41 am Post #5 - August 18th, 2004, 9:41 am
    It wil be interesting to see what Portillo does with the Italian beef and sausage sandwiches in California. I have my doubts. When beef is good, its very good, but when it's bad it's plain awful. QC seems like a challenge with this tricky stuff. (Much like Philly Cheesesteak, or New Haven pizza, which seem not to travel.)


    It should be noted that Pat Scala did not like the combo Italian Sausage with Beef. He felt it was much better to get two sandwiches: one sausage and one beef.

    From listening to the lecture, Scala's is making efforts to expand outside of Chicago. He commented their marketing is coming full circle with their beef now being offered in grocery stores. He indicated Scala's is priced higher than their competitors by several dollars, but they have the market share in the grocery store.

    JustJoan asked a question which mirrored your thoughts. She was inquiring if Scala's only has the single plant here or are they expanding, if yes then how do they address quality control. So far they have the one plant which is capable of processing 100,000 pounds of beef per week. So far there is no talk of expanding production outside of the area. Though clearly they are not resting on their marketing laurels, because they are definitely moving product beyond the Chicago area.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - August 18th, 2004, 10:19 am
    Post #6 - August 18th, 2004, 10:19 am Post #6 - August 18th, 2004, 10:19 am
    So are the Scala sausages that are at Costco the same sausages that Johnnies cooks up?
  • Post #7 - August 18th, 2004, 10:21 am
    Post #7 - August 18th, 2004, 10:21 am Post #7 - August 18th, 2004, 10:21 am
    Hi,

    Kim wrote:So are the Scala sausages that are at Costco the same sausages that Johnnies cooks up?


    Maybe, maybe not. They gave the impression they make special recipe accomodations for various clients. So if Johnnies is a special recipe, then Scala's standard won't meet your Johnnies expectations. Not knowing either or how Johnnies recipe may vary, it also may come very close. If you have an opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison, please do advise.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #8 - August 18th, 2004, 10:24 am
    Post #8 - August 18th, 2004, 10:24 am Post #8 - August 18th, 2004, 10:24 am
    Thats what I thought, Thank You.
  • Post #9 - August 18th, 2004, 10:30 am
    Post #9 - August 18th, 2004, 10:30 am Post #9 - August 18th, 2004, 10:30 am
    The matter of restaurants displaying the Scala sign even after they switch to another supplier is disturbing (though hardly surprising). Have they taken steps to address this abuse and is this a widespread problem?

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #10 - August 18th, 2004, 10:42 am
    Post #10 - August 18th, 2004, 10:42 am Post #10 - August 18th, 2004, 10:42 am
    Antonius wrote:The matter of restaurants displaying the Scala sign even after they switch to another supplier is disturbing (though hardly surprising). Have they taken steps to address this abuse and is this a widespread problem?


    They acknowledge the problem, which they noted Vienna suffers the same circumstances. How aggressive they are was not really revealed. I guess once it is up, how do you persuade someone to take down? Even if you retain ownership of your signs, crossing into private property to haul it down does not sound like an easy effort.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #11 - August 18th, 2004, 10:55 am
    Post #11 - August 18th, 2004, 10:55 am Post #11 - August 18th, 2004, 10:55 am
    Cathy2 wrote: I guess once it is up, how do you persuade someone to take down?


    Your LAWYER does the persuading! :)
  • Post #12 - August 18th, 2004, 11:06 am
    Post #12 - August 18th, 2004, 11:06 am Post #12 - August 18th, 2004, 11:06 am
    Amata wrote:Your LAWYER does the persuading!


    It was on my mind, I just wanted someone else to voice it.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #13 - August 18th, 2004, 11:35 am
    Post #13 - August 18th, 2004, 11:35 am Post #13 - August 18th, 2004, 11:35 am
    In rare circumstances, it is Vienna or Scala who gets to free ride on the repuation of its non-customer. As Gary pointed out recently, Langer's does not use (no longer uses?) Vienna products, but the big Vienna sign out front remains. Steve Z put up a nice photo of the place early on here.
  • Post #14 - August 18th, 2004, 3:10 pm
    Post #14 - August 18th, 2004, 3:10 pm Post #14 - August 18th, 2004, 3:10 pm
    thats good info on scalas, but what about the good info like what kind of beef do they use and what about the juice?? all the same run of the mill questions but no answers!!! is it such a big secret or what???
  • Post #15 - August 18th, 2004, 3:59 pm
    Post #15 - August 18th, 2004, 3:59 pm Post #15 - August 18th, 2004, 3:59 pm
    JeffB wrote:In rare circumstances, it is Vienna or Scala who gets to free ride on the repuation of its non-customer. As Gary pointed out recently, Langer's does not use (no longer uses?) Vienna products, but the big Vienna sign out front remains. Steve Z put up a nice photo of the place early on here.

    Jeff,

    To be a little more specific about Langer's and Vienna products. Al Langer said at one time Langer's used Vienna pastrami, though Al went on to say that was quite a while ago. I did not inquire as to what type of corned beef Langer's used, so it is possible, though not probable from Al's reaction to my Vienna/pastrami question, Langer's sells Vienna brand corned beef.

    Here's a picture of Langer's I took just a few weeks ago, the Vienna signage is prominent,
    Image

    Steve's Langer Picture

    Enjoy,
    Gary
  • Post #16 - August 18th, 2004, 4:24 pm
    Post #16 - August 18th, 2004, 4:24 pm Post #16 - August 18th, 2004, 4:24 pm
    Gary, you are a master photographer, such that someone who has never visited Langer's might see your pic and think that the deli is in one of LA's more pleasant neighborhoods. Truth be told, as you know, the area around Langer's would almost certainly have a Chicago CAPS camera with flashing blue lights if it were here.

    Still, that's not reason enough to miss out on Langer's -- as so many visitors and West Angelenos do.
  • Post #17 - August 18th, 2004, 4:53 pm
    Post #17 - August 18th, 2004, 4:53 pm Post #17 - August 18th, 2004, 4:53 pm
    JeffB wrote:Gary, you are a master photographer, such that someone who has never visited Langer's might see your pic and think that the deli is in one of LA's more pleasant neighborhoods. Truth be told, as you know, the area around Langer's would almost certainly have a Chicago CAPS camera with flashing blue lights if it were here.

    Still, that's not reason enough to miss out on Langer's -- as so many visitors and West Angelenos do.


    You know, Jeff, in our trips to LA, we took a lot of surface streets, and took Wilshire/6th a lot including several trips past Langers--unfortunately never during the right time. I never felt the neighborhood as one "bad". There were always a lot of people, and a fair amount of homeless, but it did not seem dangerous. I wonder what Wiv thinks.

    As to Erik's point above, I think the debate had been settled a while back, certainly after the first beefathon. What was not clear and what caused confusion, was what it meant to be "Scala beef" vs. home-made beef. I think a lot of people thought like I thought, that it was an either-or, between Scala and home-made. Instead a place like Johnnies buys Scala beef and then cooks it, meaning the question of whether it was Scala or home-made could never be answered either way, as the answer was both.
  • Post #18 - August 19th, 2004, 6:41 am
    Post #18 - August 19th, 2004, 6:41 am Post #18 - August 19th, 2004, 6:41 am
    tonyd wrote:thats good info on scalas, but what about the good info like what kind of beef do they use and what about the juice?? all the same run of the mill questions but no answers!!! is it such a big secret or what???


    Tony,

    No big secret, but there is no set answer. Johnnie's uses raw beef from Scala, cooks it themselves, which produces their (Johnnie's) juice. Scala, as has been said in this thread, sells any and all combinations of product. From raw beef, if memory serves from the Beef-a-Thon, the most common cut is top-round, but I may not remember correctly, to preportioned individual packets of beef/juice ready to be slapped on a hunk-o-Turrano.

    Pat Scala was open as could be, answered every question anyone posed, and Erik and I posed a few pointed questions, as did ReneG and JustJoan.

    I imagine if you called Scala's front office, said you had questions, they would answer each and every one. It seems like a hell of a good company.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
  • Post #19 - August 19th, 2004, 7:00 am
    Post #19 - August 19th, 2004, 7:00 am Post #19 - August 19th, 2004, 7:00 am
    Erik M. wrote:Pat said that Mr. Beef, on Orleans, was originally owned by the Scala family.

    Erik,

    As you said, George did a great job with the write-up. Pat Scala was a pleasure to hear speak as he has real passion for Scala's products.

    What I found quite interesting was, as you said, at one time Mr. Beef was a company store. I also enjoyed the info about Italian Beef originally being an adjunct to grilled (BBQ) Italian sausage.

    As an aside, Erik, Cathy, ReneG and a few others went to Sky in Chinatown for lunch. We had a number of dishes, but the standouts, for me, were sliced beef and maw Szechuan style, ribs with pure cumin powder and Chili pot herb.

    Another stand out was crisp fried chicken with dried hot peppers, though I don't remember exactly what the dish is called on Sky's menu. The dish is similar to one served at Lao Sze Chuan and at the now defunct Mandarin Kitchen, which Seth aptly named 'gribbines' Chili Chicken.

    Sky is very reasonable, most dishes are priced $4.95, and is a good place to go with a group and sample.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Sky Food
    228 W Cermak
    Chicago, IL 60616
    312-842-7818
    7-Days
    11am to Midnight
    Last edited by G Wiv on August 20th, 2004, 6:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #20 - August 19th, 2004, 7:14 am
    Post #20 - August 19th, 2004, 7:14 am Post #20 - August 19th, 2004, 7:14 am
    George R wrote:The sandwiches were excellent, better than at most beef stands.

    George,

    Great write up, you really captured the essence of Pat Scala's very interesting talk.

    Funny you should mention the Italian beef sandwiches were excellent, I noticed a difference as well. Not so much the beef itself, but the gravy/juice. I noticed a real flavor difference, richer, more beefy, from most/many beef stands.

    Another thing I found interesting was that Pat Scala said, from Scala's point of view, the bread should be basically unnoticeable. Bread that has just enough body to transport beef and juice to your mouth is the perfect bread.

    If it dissolves in transit, and you get a load of juicy beef on your shirt, that is a small price to pay. Pat even mimicked the necktie over the shoulder toss, for those silly enough to wear a tie and eat a juicy beef.

    Interestingly, on the D Dickson sponsored Beef-a-Thon I happened to have a Fox and Obel baguette in the car and brought it into Chickie's on South Pulaski, which is one of my favorite beef stands. Chickie's, kindly, made a beef using the F & O bread, which I thought enhanced the overall experience.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Chickie's
    2839 S. Pulaski
    Chicago IL 60623
    Last edited by G Wiv on August 20th, 2004, 6:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #21 - August 19th, 2004, 7:46 am
    Post #21 - August 19th, 2004, 7:46 am Post #21 - August 19th, 2004, 7:46 am
    JeffB wrote:Gary, you are a master photographer, such that someone who has never visited Langer's might see your pic and think that the deli is in one of LA's more pleasant neighborhoods. Truth be told, as you know, the area around Langer's would almost certainly have a Chicago CAPS camera with flashing blue lights if it were here.

    Jeff,

    I was at Langer's around 11am and, as Rob said, there were many people on the street, and it did not 'feel' dangerous. I will say that my perception of the neighborhood may be different than yours as I was by myself and those inclined to shenanigans were probably still sleeping off the effects of the previous evening's mischief.

    By the way, thanks for the photo compliment.

    JeffB wrote:Still, that's not reason enough to miss out on Langer's -- as so many visitors and West Angelenos do.


    The thought that someone, anyone, would miss out on the perfection known as Langer's pastrami due to the 'neighboorhood' makes me sad.

    Look, I realize that everyone, including me, has to be reasonable about personal safety, but unless there were an out and out street riot, I don't think anyone, especially someone from Chicago, would have a problem going to Langer's for a sandwich during the day. Nighttime pastrami at Langer's is moot, Langer's closes at 4pm.

    The one area that did get my antenna up was when I went to Cole's for a french dip. I parked, due to construction, a couple of blocks East of the restaurant, and, while I was not bothered, saw everything from drug sales to prostitution to a fist fight over a wine bottle to......... Actually, now that I think of it, the fist fight was kind of funny, picture two guys, who have been drunk for 15-years-straight, trying to keep their balance as they swing at each other. :)

    Since I mentioned Cole's, which bills itself as the original French Dip sandwich, which may even be true, I should say that, while the place is cool as hell, in an old-time sort of way, I did not like the food in the least. Dry beef on a stale roll, very salty, tasting of Kitchen Bouquet, juice and fatty undercooked lamb ribs.

    The restaurant, and especially bar, was atmospheric as hell, great place to shoot a movie, not-so-much to eat. I didn't have the taste of Cole's in my mouth for long though, I went right from there to Philippe on Alameda and had an unbelievable dipped lamb with blue cheese and a beet pickled egg.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Last edited by G Wiv on August 20th, 2004, 6:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #22 - August 19th, 2004, 10:54 am
    Post #22 - August 19th, 2004, 10:54 am Post #22 - August 19th, 2004, 10:54 am
    Gary,

    Thanks for the kind words. At the talk I had my beef sandwich with the giardinera, so I wasn't sure just how much of the flavor came from the juice and how much came from the giardinera, though the former was obviously an important part of it. I really liked it. Makes me wonder why it was so much better than the average beef stand.

    We've found that buying Scala's beef at the Jewel is a decent alternative to going to a beef stand -- better than most though not up to a Johnnie's. I just wish they'd provide more juice; you get one small container with each half pound of beef.

    I was sorry we couldn't stay after the talk, but we're moving our business and had to get back to work. However, on the way up to Evanston my son and I decided to stop for a quick bite as the sandwiches at the talk were half-size.

    We were in the mood for more beef and decided to try someplace new along the way. We stopped at a little stand on Western called Quick Bite (not far from Max's) and were pleasantly surprised.

    It's a small place that serves the usual assortment of fast foods (hot dogs, gyros, burgers, etc). The beef sandwiches were tasty -- in the good but not great category. Served with OK McDonald's-style fries. You could load on all the giardinera you wanted from serve-yourself containers on the eat-in counter. However, avoid the wretched sweet peppers which were bitter. Tiny parking lot.

    Quick Bite
    5155 N. Western AVe
    Chicago
    773-989-4918
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #23 - August 19th, 2004, 12:04 pm
    Post #23 - August 19th, 2004, 12:04 pm Post #23 - August 19th, 2004, 12:04 pm
    George R wrote:We were in the mood for more beef and decided to try someplace new along the way. We stopped at a little stand on Western called Quick Bite (not far from Max's) and were pleasantly surprised.

    It's a small place that serves the usual assortment of fast foods (hot dogs, gyros, burgers, etc). The beef sandwiches were tasty -- in the good but not great category.

    George,

    I've been to Quick Bite a few times on JSM's recommendation. I'd agree Quick Bite is in the good, not great, category. But even just a good Italian Beef is still pretty damn good.

    I'd put Tore's in the same category as Quick Bite, good, but not great.

    I posted about both Tore's and Quick bite, which I will include that at the end of this post.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    --

    8/03
    G Wiv

    Back in January JSM recommended the Italian beef at Quick Bite at the corner of Foster and Western, I finally got a chance to try QB's Italian beef yesterday and, as JSM said it was quite good. A very large, and I do mean very large, garlicky flavorful beef with a nice hit of oregano. The beef, fries, skinny, crisp and an unrealistically large portion, and a soda came to $5.81 inc tax.

    Only minor complaint was that the beef seemed a smidgen dry and the bread was horrid, chewy to the point of elasticity, though I am 100% sure on a day when the temp isn't 90degrees with high humidity the bread will be quite acceptable. QB also gets a big plus for their giardiniera, a nice mix of peppers, carrots, olives, cauliflower, celery and a few other vegies I am forgetting.

    QB has 7-8 stools inside for seating and no air conditioning, don't sit near the door, it slams shut every time someone enters or exits.

    Another Italian Beef place I tried recently is Tore's at Diversey and Western. Tore's also serves a very large beef sandwich and a nice sized order of fries. The beef was good, though a bit short on overall flavor and the fries were of the skinny type, but nicely done. Tore's giardiniera is of the standard Chicago style. Tore's has quite a bit of inside seating, but is not a full service restaurant.

    I got Tore's #6 Combo, Italian beef, fries and a large soda for $5.10, not including tax.

    Both Tore's and QB offer excellent value for your beef dollar, extra large sandwiches and very serviceable beef.

    Quick Bite
    5155 N Western Ave
    Chicago, IL
    773-989-4918

    Tore's
    2804 N Western Ave
    Chicago, IL 60618
    773-227-7599
  • Post #24 - August 19th, 2004, 1:43 pm
    Post #24 - August 19th, 2004, 1:43 pm Post #24 - August 19th, 2004, 1:43 pm
    Gary and Rob, you guys know that I'm the last person to dissuade someone from going into an unfamiliar (to the reader) neighborhood to try some great food. You and I often spoke up on the other board when folks would warn about the "danger" of going to places on the south west sides. To this day I have the hardest time not responding to some of the basically bigoted stuff that pops up there daily.

    Against that backdrop (which I painted not for you guys, but for other readers without the same context, who might have been put off by my description), I have to say that on the afternoon I last visited Langer's, drug and sex transactions were in various states of negotiation right outside the door. My in-laws live near Silver Lake, and I take the bus around LA when I visit. The area around Langers, on that given day, made me a little nervous, even by Chicago standards.
  • Post #25 - August 19th, 2004, 1:46 pm
    Post #25 - August 19th, 2004, 1:46 pm Post #25 - August 19th, 2004, 1:46 pm
    Gary,

    I also agree with your assessment of Tore's Beef.
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #26 - August 21st, 2004, 6:08 am
    Post #26 - August 21st, 2004, 6:08 am Post #26 - August 21st, 2004, 6:08 am
    JeffB wrote:on the afternoon I last visited Langer's, drug and sex transactions were in various states of negotiation right outside the door. My in-laws live near Silver Lake, and I take the bus around LA when I visit. The area around Langers, on that given day, made me a little nervous, even by Chicago standards.

    Jeff,

    Sounds like your last Langer's experience was similar to my recent Cole's experience. That being the case, I'd have my antenna up as well.

    In general I would highly recommend any and all lover's of pastrami visit Langer's, though one might wish to cut down on the bling-bling for the walk from car to restaurant. :)

    Kidding aside, I know a few people, mostly friends of my mother, who wear conspicuous amounts of jewelry. In the past, when I've recommended restaurants in what-can-be 'iffy' neighborhoods, I suggest not wearing their usual Harry Winston array.

    Common sense always prevails.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
  • Post #27 - November 4th, 2021, 10:44 am
    Post #27 - November 4th, 2021, 10:44 am Post #27 - November 4th, 2021, 10:44 am
    Hi,

    It appears Scala Beef quietly closed in 2012, though nobody appears to know why.

    Anybody know anything?

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #28 - November 4th, 2021, 7:53 pm
    Post #28 - November 4th, 2021, 7:53 pm Post #28 - November 4th, 2021, 7:53 pm
    I saw somewhere on a forum within the last few years that there was tension and differences in the family that forced a sale. It would make sense. Only a percentage of first generation family businesses make it to the second generation. A smaller from the second to the 3rd. Given it was probably a closely held private entity and they've not peeped a word, my guess is it's something along those lines.

    It's a shame -- I do remember enjoying many tasty sausage pizzas and Italian beefs with their products growing up.
    "People are too busy in these times to care about good food. We used to spend months working over a bonne-femme sauce, trying to determine just the right proportions of paprika and fresh forest mushrooms to use." -Karoly Gundel, Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure, Joseph Wechsberg, 1954.

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