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Best Fresh Italian Sausage

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greghoffman Jun 6, 2012 12:32 PM

We're currently living in Minnesota, and are looking to throw a big Italian feed for a graduation party in a few weeks, and since we're going to be in the Chicago area between now and then, we're looking to pick up some ingredients while we're there.

We're mainly looking for Italian sausage - probably buying 10-20 pounds of it - mostly links, but maybe some bulk. Who's got the best Italian sausage out there? Because of the quantity, we're probably not looking for high-end gourmet-type sausages - just your basic, good, fennel-y Italian sausage, which is difficult to find in Minnesota.

I know either Jewel (I think) or Dominick's _used_ to have really good Italian sausage - of course, this was 10+ years ago. That would definitely be the simplest, but we'll have a few days to take care of this, so if it requires a trip to a more out-of-the-way location, that's okay, too - within reason.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Db Cooper RE: greghoffman Jun 6, 2012 12:42 PM

    Hi, I live in MN but travel to Chicago frequently. Have you had the chance to try Cosetta's Italian Sausage in St. Paul? Cosetta's is on West 7th and they have a deli/meat market where you can buy it in link form or in bulk. I just wanted to suggest it so that you may not have to make such a long trip. I've actually brought it as a gift to some clients in Chicago they were HUGE fans. It's just a thought.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Db Cooper
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      greghoffman RE: Db Cooper Jun 6, 2012 01:33 PM

      We _have_ tried Cosetta's - at least on the pizzas there - and it was good. But, we're going to be in the Chicago area anyway - we like Italian sausage, but not enough to drive 7 hours for (only) that.

      If I remember right, Cosetta's deli/meat counter was on the pricy side, also - although I'm not sure I checked the price on Italian sausage. I've also had the Italian sausage from Kramarczuk's, and it's also very good (as are all of the sausages I've tried there).

      1. re: greghoffman
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        danimalarkey RE: greghoffman Jun 6, 2012 01:51 PM

        Peoria Packing might be a good fit. Pretty centrally located, it's one of the few wholesalers that's open to the public. I haven't had their sausages before (I mostly stick to pork butt and pork bellies) but I guarantee that they will have the best prices, especially for the quantity you're looking for.

        Peoria Packing
        1300 W. Lake St
        Chicago Il
        312-738-1800

        1. re: danimalarkey
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          greghoffman RE: danimalarkey Jun 6, 2012 02:10 PM

          Wow - you're not kidding about the prices! I just got off the phone with them - Italian links - $1.69/lb, and bulk Italian sausage - $9.99 for 10 pounds, frozen (buy one get one free at $9.99 for five pounds).

          I'll definitely put this on the list, although I'd like to know about whether it's _good_ sausage or not - looking for reviews. Judging by what I have read, though, I think if I go there, it's going to be one of those places that makes me a little sad I moved to Minnesota...

          Thanks for the info.

          1. re: greghoffman
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            danimalarkey RE: greghoffman Jun 7, 2012 07:29 AM

            I'd say it's worth a try -- but not when you're only in town the one day and looking to get 10-20 lbs. I will say that I avoid the beef there and all of their meat is sort of the antithesis of free-range, organic, pasture-raised animals.

            Having said that, I believe Lou Malnati's uses Peoria Packing for its sausage. Of course, they may have a proprietary blend and so what you get on the pizza isn't what you'll find at PP. It's still a pretty strong endorsement, though.

            1. re: danimalarkey
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              greghoffman RE: danimalarkey Jun 7, 2012 08:04 AM

              We'll be in town for several days - long weekend - so will have time to explore, and from the descriptions of this place I've read elsewhere, I may have to go there just to see it.

              I've never been a stickler for "free-range" or "organic" meats - both they and "factory"-raised meats have their pros and cons - but if I can get in there and look at the meat myself and pick the cuts I want, I can usually come up with something edible (and if I can't find something edible, I'll take an old gnarly pork shoulder or chunk of chuck roast and smoke/braise it until it is... :-).

        2. re: greghoffman
          Db Cooper RE: greghoffman Jun 6, 2012 02:49 PM

          I am pretty sure their Italian Sausage at Cosetta's is under $5.00 a pound. My wife just sent some down to a friend in Phoenix who had a hankering for it. I've tried most of the Italian markets in the Twin Cities and nobody comes close to Cosetta's. Give it a shot sometime and see if you like it. I'll be surprised if you don't. My recommendation is to cook it a little slower (300 to 350) for about an hour turning the links every 15 minutes or so.

          Enjoy Chicago. Have an Italian Beef for me! And I'll stop posting here now so you can get good advice for the Chicago folks who know their city better than I.

          1. re: Db Cooper
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            jbontario RE: Db Cooper Jun 6, 2012 03:00 PM

            I'm going to have to go with Db Cooper, it would be great story to bring sausage from Chicago, but I would be that if you're longing for Jewel or Dominicks (both average at best grocery stories with Jewel now owned by your Supervalu chain) that your local place will provide a great sausage. Chicago's more known meat markets specialize in specialty sausages, brats, wursts, etc. that will be very expensive for your undertaking.

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        wineaux RE: greghoffman Jun 6, 2012 06:29 PM

        We always buy our italian sausage from Frankie's Deli in Lombard... it comes in mild, medium & spicy and all are delicious. We usually get the spicy. In addition to making their own sausage, they also make great giardiniere and a wide variety of sauces, pastas, etc.

        http://www.frankiesdeliyorktown.com/

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          gordeaux RE: greghoffman Jun 6, 2012 06:32 PM

          Chicago is a great big city full of neighborhoods, and a few little neighborhood markets. Where are you going to be? SOmeone could chime in with a little hidden gem of an Italian market for you. I've never had Peoria Packing's product, no clue if it's good or not. I only buy briskets and pig parts there. Recs for Italian snausage for you (without knowing where you'll be:)

          Bari on Grand
          Caputo's in Elmwood Park
          Tonini's In Berwyn
          Riviera - also in Elmwood Park (Elmwood Park has a pretty high concentration of Italian Markets. It's not in city proper, but not too far west, and a bit north of the downtown city area.)
          There should be a few decent places down in the Taylor Street "Little Italy" area, but again, there are spots all over town for Italian Sausage, so everyone has their "spot," I bet. I'm not really familiar with the Taylor Street area delis/markets. I bet if you made a trip there, you could find several places and do taste tests when you get home. Good Luck on your quest, but still - where in the city are you going to be? And also, if you do decide on going to Taylor Street, please, please, stop at Mario's for an Italian Ice.

          5 Replies
          1. re: gordeaux
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            greghoffman RE: gordeaux Jun 7, 2012 07:03 AM

            We'll be staying in Lemont, and we've got stuff to do in Naperville and NW Indiana. If there's anything around those areas, that would be great, but I'm probably more interested in the _quest_ for Italian sausage, and would be willing to go about anyplace around Chicago to look for it. Our only problem might be timing - trying to get there when things are open.

            I definitely know what you mean about everyone having their "spot" for sausages (and bread, and Italian beef, and...). My wife has a lot of relatives in the area, and I'm sure they'll be chiming in with their suggestions, also. I know her immediate family went to Rosario's quite often, and we may end up there, if we can get to them when they're open.

            Although the thought of a Mario's Italian Lemonade makes it almost worth the trip to Taylor Street all by itself.

            Thanks.

            1. re: greghoffman
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              gordeaux RE: greghoffman Jun 7, 2012 10:46 AM

              quick thought for you - from southwest burbs (lemont / naperville) to north west indiana, depending on your route, a quick stop to the Taylor Street "Little Italy" area might not be too far off of your path, and I guarantee you'll find a few Italian delis peddling homemade Italian sausage. Just a thought. I'd bet there are a few place close to where you're staying, I'm just not that familiar with the area.

              1. re: gordeaux
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                greghoffman RE: gordeaux Jun 7, 2012 01:59 PM

                That's true - might not be too much of a detour. Also, we're heading to Indiana to see the closest thing to the culinary matriarch/patriarch of my wife's Italian family - I'll have to find out where they get their sausage (although, I think he may make his own sausage - I wonder if he'll...).

                1. re: greghoffman
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                  MCheversia RE: greghoffman Jun 7, 2012 02:26 PM

                  Since you will be in northwest Indiana, you will be fairly close to Dal Santo's which is located at 976 East Steger Road in Crete, IL. They make their own sausage and have both link and bulk, mild and hot. It's my favorite. I would suggest giving them a call first since you are ordering quite a lot.

                  1. re: MCheversia
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                    greghoffman RE: MCheversia Jun 8, 2012 08:32 AM

                    I think I've heard about Dal Santo's - we might have to consider that one.

                    Thanks.

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            shell22 RE: greghoffman Jun 8, 2012 08:20 AM

            I don't know how this will work for you logistically, but this is our favorite. Freshly made, lean and under $5 per pound. The garlic version is our favorite!

            Nottoli Italian Foods
            5025 North Harlem Avenue Chicago, IL 60656
            (773) 631-0662

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              crcostel RE: greghoffman Jun 10, 2012 05:42 PM

              Joseph's Finest Meats
              7101 W Addison
              Chicago

              Homemade Hot, Mild, Vidalia, Green Pepper etc. Without a doubt the best butcher in Chicago

              1. chicgail RE: greghoffman Jun 11, 2012 04:11 AM

                I think my first choice would be an small Italian market like Poetas up in Highwood,

                Does anyone know if Paulina Market has decent Italian sausage? It's my go-to for hard-to-find cuts of meat.

                1 Reply
                1. re: chicgail
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                  jbontario RE: chicgail Jun 11, 2012 05:20 AM

                  I've grilled a Paulina Market Pinwheel Sausage and the Spicy Italians (as well as nearly every other cut there) many times and it is always top notch in my book. I was just there Saturday to pick up some cheddar brats and tomato basil brats. The only challenge is that they are not cheap, brats averaged $7/lb, so 20lbs . . . . That said, I really really really like the Spicy Lamb Sticks, so worth a stop in my book.

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                  greghoffman RE: greghoffman Jun 17, 2012 08:30 PM

                  I just got back from Chicago, and I thought I'd post the results of my Italian sausage search.

                  I ended up taking advice from my brother-in-law, and getting the sausage from a little Italian deli in downtown Lemont - SweetWater Deli. He had just recently tried the sausage - they also have hot (and cold) sandwiches/soups/salads - and said the sausage was really good, so I went in and tried a sandwich myself. It wasn't the best sausage I've _ever_ had, but very good, _very_ convenient, and only $2.79 per pound (on sale - usually $3.19, I think), so I ordered 15 lbs to pick up Saturday morning.

                  They don't make the sausage there - and I forgot to ask where they got it from - and they only had a single variety - "sweet", but because I was bringing it back to Minnesota, "hot" was out of the question, anyway. I think the Italian sausage was the only "fresh" meat there - it's not a full-service butcher shop, but they did have a nice little selection of Italian specialties - sauces, pastas, cookies, candies, gelatos.

                  Thanks again for all the advice. My son will be heading to college in the area this fall, so we'll be making a occasional trips down there - and now we've got lots of Italian delis to try out.

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