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Mar 11, 2010 08:12 AM

Looking for Italian beef

Watched Food Wars last night, now I'm Jonesing for one.

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    1. re: annapurna7

      I second Portillo's. They make a really good sandwich with sweet peppers and all. You can also get one with Italian beef and Italian sausage combo just like in Chicago. You can also buy it in a large batch to make at home.
      Famous Italian Beef...............In 2 1/2 lbs. portions or more.
      2 1/2 lbs .............$23.70
      Sold ready to heat and serve.
      (French Bread & Peppers Extra).

      1. re: wienermobile

        Sweet peppers are extra for some strange reason....they ask you if you want them and then charge extra.

        $4.79 for their Italian beef sandwich. They make their own fresh rolls.

        Portillo's Italian beef sandwich puts Philippe's beef sandwich to shame in size and quality at that price.

        1. re: wienermobile

          Portillo's looks great!!

          I looked at their website and don't see them mention jardiniere or giardiniera , is that just a Chicago thing?

          1. re: parker394

            They do sweet or hot peppers only and you can add cheese at an extra charge. It's a good sandwich.

            1. re: parker394

              I was driving through and stopped at Portillos. I asked for hot peppers without thinking because I like a little spice, but it was a bad move. They are extremely thick chunks of pickled jalapeno (I also got one scrap of carrot and one of celery.) I must have got an extra hot batch or I just couldn't take the heat that day, because I had to knock them all off after a bite or two. I'd get sweet next time. But what I really liked about the ones I've had in Chicago is the more complex topping, so I guess that is peppers with giardiniera?

              For me, this was not a destination type place, but I was happy enough to have it and it beats paying up inside the Knotts, unless you are in the mood for Fried Chicken.

              They had a really nice selection of complex and 'everything' salads that looked fantastic. I'm not much of a hot dog eater but they have the Chicago style dog.

            2. re: wienermobile

              I also suggest Portillo's for some strange reason their only other location is in Moreno Valley near UC Riverside, which was the only reason I found it.

            3. re: annapurna7

              Get the Big Beef if you're really hungry. Get the Combo if you can't decide b/w Ital beef and Ital sausage, as they're both stuffed in there. Get it "dry" with gravy on the side, if you're getting it to go or thru drive-thru. Great to take into Angels Stadium (yes, they allow outside food).

              1. re: pharmnerd

                "Get it 'dry' with gravy on the side, if you're getting it to go or thru drive-thru."

                My Chicago soul would not allow me to say the word "dry" in connection with an Italian Beef (unless it's, "Damn, I got the gravy on my new tuxedo and have to take it to the dry-cleaners!" ;-), but you should always request extra gravy on the side anyway (how can it hurt, I ask you?), even if you have the sandwich dipped and especially if you get it in the drive-thru and don't plan to eat immediately. The friendly California youngsters working at Portillo's don't think the way Chicago kids would and have been known to occasionally forget to dip a sandwich. (It's happened to me twice over the last five years -- aarggh!)

                1. re: hnsbmg

                  Yeah, I guess "dry" is sacrilegious to Chicagoans. Interestingly (to me, at least) discovered on the Chicago & L.A. episodes of "Man vs Food", there's different interpretations of "dipped." At Phillipes in L.A., double-dipped means top & bottom of the bread are dipped but only on the meat sides (I'm sure they'll dip the whole thing if you ask though). At a little joint in Chicago (name??), the whole sandwich is dipped. I'm gonna try full dipped next time at Portillos.

                  1. re: pharmnerd

                    If you say "dipped" in Chicago -- "juicy" at Johnnie's in Elmwood Park -- you generally get the whole sandwich dipped, although I'm sure there are timid souls who negotiate merely "wet" (lots of gravy on the meat but not dipped). Hint: they won't be wearing Bears T-shirts. ;-) I have on very rare occasion heard the word "dry" used in public but, fortunately, never when I had my daughters with me.

                    1. re: pharmnerd

                      Portillo's you don't even have to ask.
                      It's seems like it's soaked inside and out with gravy.

                      1. re: monku

                        As I said, Portillo's has served me a dry sandwich a couple of times (in five years), but it hasn't happened recently. No doubt, the employees, through reflection and meditation, have reached a mo' deeper understanding of the Italian Beef.

              2. Eastside Deli just west of Chinatown.

                4 Replies
                1. re: nosh

                  Get the hot beef plate for $7.25.
                  You get Italian roast beef and Italian pastrami with melted cheese and peppers and a roll. You can make a sandwich with the roll and there's lot's of beef left over for at least another sandwich or meal.

                  1. re: nosh

                    Yes, Eastside market and italian deli is the best. Try the #7

                    1. re: malibumike

                      Curious....What's the DA Special sandwich?

                      1. re: monku

                        all their meats basically meatballs, roast beef, sausage, and pastrami on one roll sluiced with tomato sauce. you may need a fork and knive to eat it, since the bread sort of disintegrates from all that stuff and tomato sauce. i really like their meatballs there.

                  2. Taste Chicago in Burbank - i haven't tried it, but i know they do have them.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: Jelly71

                      Overated and overpriced.
                      I live 10 minutes from Taste of Chicago and drive 45 minutes at least twice a month to get an Italian beef sandwich at Portillo's.

                      1. re: monku

                        This thread makes me laugh.:) We hosted dear friends from Italy this week and all they wanted was a great American Steak. We took them to Toscana, for the Italian ambience, which they loved and they each ordered steak,(one ribeye and one Porterhouse) which they claimed were the best steaks they had ever eaten in their lives. This is the steak which Toscana finishes off in the wood burning oven. Have to say those steaks were pretty damned amazing. I also have to say that my guests are 2 big , young Venetians who had no problem devouring 2 really big steaks. Normally, my husband and I share one and there are leftovers. We had a great time and, as always, Antonio was an amazing and very gracious host.

                        1. re: maudies5

                          So your friends came from Venice to have bistecca alla fiorentina?

                          1. re: Akitist

                            My friends got a better Bistecca alla Florentina at Toscana than they would ever have in Italy. They appreciate fine food. These steaks were the finest. It was a pleasure to introduce them to a warm Italian ambiance and those gorgeous steaks cooked in that wood burning oven. Perfection!!

                            1. re: maudies5

                              you mean toscana in brentwood?

                              how much are one of those steaks?

                              sounds good, but i always though toscana was a pricey, not very good, celebrity haunt and for the excessively wealthy brentwood types.

                              1. re: kevin

                                Yes. Toscana in Brentwood. Those steaks are seriously expensive (around $50.00-$60.00 for a steak which would comfortably satisfy 2. Kevin, I so respect you. Give Toscana a try. Best time is lunch when the restaurant has lovely light. If you are lucky, or call ahead, Antonio will be the Maitre'd. You are unfairly stereotyping Toscana. It is not for the "wealthy neighborhood types." Indeed, it is a Local Trattoria. My husband and I have always been treated there as well as any famous celebrity. As great as the Steaks, the pastas are pretty disappointing. Salads are boring, although the grilled calamari is good.
                                Pizzas are delicious. Love the one with funghi
                                Steaks are (IMHO) better than Capo, Wolfgang, etc. Just beyond delicious. Kevin, I hope you go there for lunch one day when it is quiet. Report back.
                                BTW, you came up on www.
                                Dining buzz forum. Nice to see.

                                1. re: maudies5

                                  Flyeralk, really? I've never heard of it or posted on there.

                                  Maybe I will have to give Toscana a steak try.

                                  1. re: maudies5

                                    maudies5 - Your confusing kevin w/ kevin h aka kevineats. Understandable, except for the fact that kevin h would NEVER ask "how much are one of those steaks?" Anyone can eat and drink extremely lavishly at the most expensive restaurants. The catch is you have to do it vicariously through kevineats.

                                    kevin h's profile:

                                    1. re: ilikefood

                                      i'm seriously confused, but ilikefood, thanks for clearing that up, i'm kevin, the other guy with the great blog is kevin h (with the h). seeing as it is a common moniker it is easy to get confused.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Thanks for the explanation and sorry for the confusion.

                          2. re: monku

                            Completely agree, monku. Taste Chicago is disappointing at best. I make monthly treks down to Portillo's Buena Park from Hollywood for my Italian Beef fix.

                          3. re: Jelly71

                            sorry to say I actually ate at Taste Chicago this afternoon...the Italian beef was very unimpressive, I cannot recommend it. We were not too impressed with the pizza either.

                            Taste Chicago
                            603 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

                            1. re: deepfried

                              You were warned many times. Now get your butt to Portillo's.

                          4. Chicago's Best in Irvine. My husband is from Chicago and swears this is the best and most authentic Italian Beef outside Chicago. Even better than Portillo's. Bad news is that they are only open on weekdays since it is located in a food court surrounded by office buildings.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: laytonj1

                              Different strokes for different folks, laytonj1. I lived a large part of my life in Chicago and still visit there frequently and don't care for Chicago's Best in Irvine. For one thing, they use a tasty but inappropriate french bread instead of the sturdier Gonnella loaves found almost everywhere in Chicago (except at Portillo's, which makes their own). CB's bread gets too soggy from the gravy. Most importantly, the beef just doesn't have the fragrant oomph of real Italian Beef.

                              Note to coconutz: unless they have scandalously changed the recipe in the last week, Portillo's uses chopped sport peppers in their hot giardiniera -- the same peppers that you get on hot dogs in Chicago. They're very spicy and much firmer than pickled jalapenos.

                              Note to monku: why do they charge extra for the giardiniera but not for sport peppers on hot dogs? I believe it's required under the Elwood Blues clause of the Illinois constitution.

                              Incidentally, I like the Portillo's chain -- it's the best beef this far from the Windy City -- but I'd never go to one of their places in Chicago, where you can get much better beef, bread, giardiniera, and gravy. But the hot dogs are Vienna Beef (though not advertised as such), and their chocolate cake shake is semi-mind boggling.

                              Finally, note to maudies5: your story about the Venetians loving our steaks made *me* laugh, because some of the best beef I've had in my life was in Venice -- at Harry's Bar, before it became part of a "global brand." Their extraordinary (and extraordinarily expensive) carpaccio -- served as a main course -- was worth every precious pre-euro lira.

                              1. re: hnsbmg

                                I'm not from Chicago so I'm not sure what the protocol is for it "free" in Chicago?...I figure it's a condiment and should be free.

                                Portillo's makes their own rolls for the Italian beef sandwiches on the premises fresh and when they first opened they were using poppy seed buns imported from Chicago for their Chicago dogs. They might still be using them.

                                1. re: monku

                                  Sorry, monku, I missed this one. No, I've never seen free giardiniera in Chicago. There's always a small charge, no doubt, because the amount used on an Italian Beef sandwich is substantial, unlike the sport peppers or relish, etc., on hot dogs. Of course, if almost everyone ordered giardiniera, you'd think places would simply up the cost of the Italian Beef slightly. So that means, apparently, that some people even in Chicago eat their Beef plain. Given the wonderful flavor of the giardiniera at the best places, it's a mind-boggling possibility to me, my family, and friends.

                              2. re: laytonj1

                                I will say that IMHO Chicago's Best is hands down the best Italian Beef in SoCal, and I've tried about 6-8 places...and I'm a huge Portillo's fan as well. I have found that the beef at CB is MORE flavorful than at Portillo's and you certainly get a bigger sandwich for the $$. The combo (with itlaian sausage) is superb, and coupled with some of the best fries in Orange County, it's my top choice. Very good burgers and ribs as well. Biggest negative is the weekends and close at 6 on weekdays.

                                Portillo's just makes me happy. Consistently good food and reminds me of being back "home", with outdoor seating as a CA bonus. Last time my friend was there, Jay Leno was 2 tables over (he E-Mailed me a pic), not that it means anything other than Jay knows good food! Great burgers, snadwiches, salads, veggie stuff, and chocolate cake to boot!

                              3. The original comment has been removed