Alright, imagine you’re in Arlington, casually strolling down South Cooper, and suddenly, there’s this buzz about Portillo’s and their Chicago-style Italian beef. People are talking, but wait, why are some making funny faces? Let’s dig into the mystery of Italian beef, its coolness, and why some folks are slowly falling in love with it.
Soggy Buns and Cheesesteak Confusion: What Locals Think
So, there’s this Facebook page, Real Foodies of Arlington, and when Portillo’s landed, it turned into a food battlefield. People were all about the Italian beef, but some weren’t too thrilled. They complained about soggy buns and called it a cheesesteak wannabe. But guess what? Anthony “Hershey” Jones from Hershey’s Palace finds it amusing. He says some folks just haven’t tasted the magic yet.
A Chicago Classic: Let’s Unwrap the Italian Beef Tale
Picture this – the Italian beef comes from Chicago, born in the Great Depression. It’s not just a sandwich; it’s like a superhero in Chicago’s food world. While deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs grab the spotlight, Italian beefs quietly wait for their big moment outside Chicago.
TV Stardom and the “The Bear” Effect
Fast forward to 2022, the Italian beef gets its moment of fame on the FX show “The Bear.” A pretend Chicago restaurant makes it the star, and suddenly, everyone wants a bite. Anthony “Hershey” Jones saw a boom in business after “The Bear” aired. Arlington locals couldn’t get enough of this saucy delight.
What’s Cooking in the Italian Beef Magic Pot?
At first glance, you might think it’s just a roast beef sandwich, but nah-uh, it’s a different breed. Thinly sliced roast beef, a kick of spicy giardiniera, and a French roll from Turano Baking Co. – that’s the dream team. Cheese is your call, and sweet roasted peppers are like the optional sidekick. And guess what’s the secret ingredient? It’s the au jus – the magic sauce!
Wet or Dry? The Big Decision
Here’s the real deal – how do you like your Italian beef? There are two styles: wet or dry. If you go dry, you get a side of au jus for dipping. Go wet, and your sandwich takes a cozy bath in au jus. Some go in between, a quick dunk to get it wet but not totally soggy.
Au Jus Love: The Flavorful Dynamo
Meet John Kirkpatrick from Weinberger’s Deli in Grapevine. He spills the beans on the au jus – it’s like the unsung hero. It’s the flavor booster that makes Italian beef a taste sensation. Some even take it home, heat it in the toaster oven, and enjoy a crispy, au jus-infused treat.
Wrapped in Foil Magic
Hershey’s Palace has a cool trick – they serve wet Italian beefs wrapped in foil. Why? It locks in the juices, keeps the bread in one piece, and prevents messy mishaps. It’s like a secret handshake to get people hooked on this Chicago-born gem.
Giardiniera vs. Sweet Peppers: The Toppings Battle
For toppings, it’s a showdown between sweet peppers and spicy giardiniera. You decide, but Hershey swears by giardiniera as the Chicago champ. It’s the spicy kick that takes the sandwich to superhero levels.
Cracking the Code of the Wet Challenge
Eating a wet Italian beef can be a mission. The bread might get a bit mushy if you don’t gobble it up pronto. But here’s the twist – if you go dry, you miss out on the magic blend of flavors soaking into the bread.
Foiled Perfection: The Mess-Free Bite
Hershey insists that serving Italian beef in foil isn’t just about keeping it clean; it’s a trick to get people addicted. A foil-wrapped sandwich is like a VIP pass to a less chaotic, more enjoyable Italian beef experience.
So, next time you’re at Portillo’s or Hershey’s Palace, think about wet or dry, savor the au jus, and dive into the tasty, slightly messy world of Italian beef. Because, as Hershey says, “Wet is best. That’s how we do it in Chicago.”