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May 18, 2003 11:41 PM

Italian beef in Brooklyn?

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This past year I was introduced to the Saturday special roast beef sandwich at Fiore's in Hoboken - thinly sliced roast beef topped with their fresh mozzarella and soaked in gravy. I know this is not an "authentic" Chicago style beef, but having never tried one of those, I have to say this was one of the finest sandwiches I've ever had. A few weeks ago I tried a similar combination at Defonte's in Red Hook, which was very satisfying, but left me wondering if there are other places I should be looking into that are closer to home (Carroll Gardens/Red Hook area). Does anyone have any recommendations?

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  1. These aren't close to you but very worth the effort:

    Clementes: 188 Avenue T

    John's Deli: Haven't been yet but they bill themselves as the best roast beef hero in Brooklyn. In Bensonhurst, do a search.

    1. Try the Crooked Tail Cafe on 3rd in Gowanus...the bread is excellent and i found the sandwich very not from Chicago(though i love the town) but I was there recently and had a great lunch at Mr Beef on Orleans

      1. Can you describe the "gravy" on the Fiore's sandwich. Is it a thick brown gravy or a thin au jus or something else altogether?

        1. Catene Deli on Ninth St near Fourth Ave also does a pretty good Brooklyn-style roast beef sandwich. You can ask for them to soak it pretty well in jus (comparable to DeFonte's, but the times I've been to Catene, they've poured it on a little more freely). At either of these places, leaving off the mozzarella and adding hot peppers and/or spicy giardiniera can *approximate* Chicago-style. Down in the Sheepshead Bay area, Brennan & Carr makes a version which doesn't have any of the spice, but gets things nice and sopping, and Roll-N-Roaster is its own thing--kind of like a great alternate-universe version of Arby's. John's Deli (mentioned by Abbylovi) on Stillwell (they also opened a Bay Ridge location, but I've never been there) uses a much thicker, dark gravy. I think all of these places have their virtues. They make Brooklyn-style beef sandwiches (and most will assume you want cheese with it, which is something I've never witnessed in Chicago). But none of them is trying to reproduce the amazingly juicy, flavorful, meaty, spicy mess that is a Chicago Italian beef. For that, unfortunately, we have to travel hundreds of miles (although I've been tempted to try to roast and assemble my own someday).

          3 Replies
          1. re: hhhippo

            Can you get John's (Bensonhurst locale) roast beef and mozzarella all the time? I thought it was just the Wednesday special.

            1. re: MShapiro

              The Bay Ridge location of John's is no longer in business.

            2. Monte's on Avenue O and East 5th Street is noted for the very same roast beef, mozzarella, gravy sandwich.

              (718) 259-1500
              156 Ave O
              Brooklyn, NY 11204

              Take the N train to the Bay Parkway station and exit the Avenue O exit (from the front of the train). Take a left and it is two blocks on the right.