Re: Restaurant called Johnny's Beef in Chicago???? Recipe???
> A few months ago my husband went to Chicago on buisness and when he was
> there one of his co-workers took him to a restaurant called Johnny's Beef,
> it's a fast food place I think. Anyway he had a sandwich with shredded
> in it and he said it was really good, he's still talking about it. I've
> never been to Chicago so I have no idea what it tasted like or what was in
> it. I'd really like to surprise him and try to duplicate that sandwich
> him. Has anyone been to that restaurant? What did you think of it?
> anyone have a recipe for that beef sandwich or what's in it?
A discussion of Eye - talian Beef on a local Chicago food forum (these folx
know their stuff, they regularly hold "Beef - a - thons" to seek out the
Here is a good primer on the subject from United's in - flight magazine,
written by a local Chicago critic:http://www.hemispheresmagazine.com/r...05/chicago.htm
Roving Gourmet: Chicago's Italian Beef Stands
"The Windy City has many answers to the question, "Where's the beef?" One of
the best, beyond Chicago's steakhouses, is a bunch of informal eateries that
attract standing-room-only crowds for succulent beef sandwiches. / By Pat
It's a sandwich as unique to Chicago as the Sears Tower, Soldier Field, and
those lovable Cubs. It's been featured (and eaten) on national TV. It's been
written about in big-name magazines (with, I might add, the same gusto as
torchon de foie gras au sel). The sandwich of which I speak is Italian beef.
Around the Windy City, this beauty of a feast has more clout than "da Mare."
The Italian beef sandwich is so uniquely Chicago that it deserves, along
with our fabulous deep-dish pizza and our fabled Chicago hot dog (encased
meats are to Chicago what barbecue is to Memphis), a lofty ride on the winds
of hyperbole. And, yes, it is that good.
As the self-appointed tour guide for the foods of Chicago, I believe there
are a few things you need to know about how we operate around here. Digest
this information and you'll be ordering and eating an Italian beef sandwich
like a native.
Around Chicago, a casual, hole-in-the-wall place that has a counter where
you can stand and eat while watching the crew slap the food together is
called a "stand." We have hot dog stands, and we have beef stands; that's
it. Places that sell submarine sandwiches and pizza by the slice are not
called stands. However, even if the beef stand doesn't have a place to
stand, it's referred to as a stand. I know that doesn't make much sense, but
roll with it.
Once a beef stand has been around for a while, it develops a character of
its own, ebbing and flowing with a stream of interesting customers that
sport a certain brand of style. For example, I was at Mr. Beef on Orleans
one day, and in walked Big Jim Thompson, the former governor of Illinois.
Celebrities such as Jay Leno and actors Joe Mantegna and Joe Pantoliano
never seem to miss dropping by Mr. Beef on Orleans when they're in Chicago.
While rubbing elbows with the stars makes for a great story, you won't be
tantalized with celebrity sightings at Boston's Bar-B-Q over on West Chicago
Avenue or Al's on West Taylor. At those two places you'll find a more elite
band of eating brothers-police, firefighters, Streets and Sanitation crews,
and, well, just plain folks. Buona Beef in Berwyn and Johnnie's in Elmwood
Park are neighborhood fixtures, havens of dependability for the hungry. On
more than one occasion I have swung off the expressway and ended up at one
of those places for a quick beef fix.
The lunch rush operates like clockwork. From about 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.,
customers literally queue up on cue, and the game is on. The shout of
"Next!" from a counterperson pierces the air.
The anatomy of an Italian beef sandwich can be broken down into four basic
parts: the beef, the juice, the roll, the extras. Some beef stands roast
their own beef; some don't. The ones that do have a leg up, the way I see
it, because they control the flavor of the beef from start to finish. The
beef cut of choice for roasting is sirloin tip, and it gets massaged with a
blend of herbs and spices (which varies from place to place) before it's
The juice from the roasting is then zipped up with a few more herbs and
garlic or garlic juice (sometimes both). It's the mixture of herbs and
spices-basil, oregano, garlic, black pepper, red pepper flakes-that puts the
"Italian" in Italian beef. Think of it as a French dip sandwich with an
How the beef roast is sliced after it's been cooked is critical to the
quality of the sandwich. The beef stand mantra is this: Slice the beef
against the grain. It must be thinly sliced, but not shaved. There should be
The bread of choice is a French roll that comes from a local bakery (Turano
Baking Co. and Gonnella Baking Co. are the two big suppliers). The roll is
crusty on the outside, softly textured inside (the inner texture helps to
sop up some of the juice).
The "extras" are either roasted sweet peppers (usually green bell pepper
slices) or giardiniera, an Italian vegetable relish þ made with fresh
carrots, cauliflower, celery, sport peppers, and jalapeños.
If you hunger for something more than mere beef, don't worry. All Italian
beef stands offer a combo, where Italian sausage is added to the sandwich.
Having assembled all of this, the counterman wraps the sandwich in deli
paper and slaps it on the counter. Now it's time for the "Chicago lean,"
which goes like this: Standing about a foot back from the counter, feet
spread apart about the same width as your shoulders, lean forward and bite
deeply. (If you're wearing a tie, flip it over your shoulder before the
first bite. Trust me on this.) If you ordered your beef sandwich "wet," you'
ll have juice dripping between your fingers (most stands will hand over a
stack of napkins as thick as a book).
Keep in mind that in certain parts of Chicago the word gravy implies a red
sauce. So even though the juice used on the sandwich may look like gravy to
you, it is not "gravy." Got that?
Now it's time to eat. Fine dining restaurants come and go, but Italian beef
stands will be around forever. The combined age of Chicago's five most
popular beef stands is well over 100 years. Consistency is the key, and all
of these places serve a fine-tasting, well-put-together Italian beef
Mr. Beef on Orleans / Stand-and-eat only unless the "Elegant Dining Room,"
(an array of gray picnic tables strung together) is open. Swift service.
Check out the hundreds of celebrity photos on the wall. When you hear a
counterman yell "Next!" step up and order.
666 North Orleans; Tel: 312-337-8500
Al's No. 1 Italian Beef / Stand-and-eat only (preferred standing spot is the
far right-hand corner). A neighborhood clientele mingles with students from
nearby schools and colleges. Snappy service. You need to be ready to order
when you hear your number called or you will feel the wrath.
1079 West Taylor; Tel: 312-226-4017
Johnnie's Beef / This stand also qualifies as a shack, albeit a lovable one
that has more die-hard fans than the Cubs. Mostly stand-and-eat only (in the
warm months there are picnic tables for al fresco eating). Swift service but
with an attitude.
7500 West North Avenue, Elmwood Park; Tel: 708-452-6000
Buona Beef / No place to stand here. Plenty of booths, though, so the
comfort level rises way above that at the rest of my picks. Service is swift
and no-nonsense. A big plus is the catering counter, where you can get beef
and all the fixings to go (great for a party or family affair).
6745 West Roosevelt Road, Berwyn; Tel: 708-749-2555
Boston Bar-B-Q / Not a whole lot to look at from the outside, but don't let
that put you off. Though there's room for more, six tables is the sum of the
seating. Also, this place needs to up the watts on the light bulbs. But a
lot of customers seem to like it the way it is.
2932 West Chicago Avenue; Tel: 773- 486-9536
Pat Bruno, long-standing restaurant critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, is a
standup guy who is as much at home at an Italian beef stand as he is in a
All information is current at publication. But changes do occur"