Italian Beef! My first memory of Italian Beef goes way back!
Not sure what date it was but I must have been about six years old. My father took us to the suburbs or was it Little Italy in Chicago, I'm not sure?I do remember a place called Carmie's Beef & Hot Dogs. I remember a red neon sign in the window and walking in wondering where all the chairs were to sit?
Well this was a "stand" it had counters of Formica on the sides and near the window. The counter was chest high to my dad, it had a lower area with napkins and this stuff that looked like green chopped vegetables in oil.
I learned later on it was one of my favorite foods of all time, Giardinara! I could see over the edge of the counter a open grill with Italian Sausages on a skewer cooking over a open grill!
The aroma of this place was amazing!
The people in the restaurant seemed to be from some Italian Beef eating cult! They were staring in anticipation at the menu board, I'm not sure why?
They were a savvy bunch that knew what they were there for and projected it in confidence when they ordered! My Dad yelled out in yeoman style, " Yeah, gimme two small beefs and I'll have a large combo with sweet and hot, wet!" A Coke and two Green Rivers (Green River is lime soda found in Chicago)
The man behind the counter grabbed a loaf of long Italian Bread then sliced it on a counter where you could see the worn knife marks. He sliced a hinge into the sliced loaf and opened it wide. With a quick flip of his wrist he grabbed a perfectly charred link of Italian Sausage, nested it into the bread and topped It with paper thin slices of Italian seasoned roast beef, which was held in it's natural juices!
He then dipped the edges of the sandwich in the juice like a dive bomber and topped the sandwich with roasted sweet bell peppers and some of the hot giardinara. We received our sandwiches wrapped in white butcher paper. My Dad walked over to the counter opened our sandwiches so we can eat.
I watched him as he took the "Italian Stance" he stood over the paper holding the sandwich resting his elbows on the counter, stepped back and spread his legs a bit for balance.
This ritual was so the juice from the sandwich wouldn't go all over your shirt. (Business men flip their tie over the shoulder)
He then took his first bite, I watched as this abundantly stuffed Italian beef sandwich yielded to his desire, juices dripping from his chin as he blissfully enjoyed every mouthfull!
Our family restaurant served Italian Beef and when I was young, it was the only beef I knew, not like regular roast beef like other families had. My father taught my brother and I how to make Italian beef with Inside Rounds, huge pieces of beef that he roasted overnight in the pizza oven, a practice my brother continued to do when he owned his pizzeria, Pizza Sam.
Here is my home version of Italian Beef, don't forget the bread and giardinara!