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Posts Tagged ‘Italian Sausage’

Capri Pizza Review, Merrillville, IN


Capri Pizza ReviewI have driven through Merrillville, Indiana countless times and never stopped’ it just happens to be perched at the intersection of a number of highways leaving (or entering) the greater Chicago area(I-65, 90,80, 94, and US 30).  So if I ever have stopped and simply don’t remember it, the stop was either for gas, or to pee, or to grab a Slim Jim or something.

Seems I was stuck here recently due to snow, tho, and found myself holed up in a motel that had no services nor anything around it, so I fired up the screen on my phone and perused my choices.

Having narrowed them down (no sushi or Mexican, thanks),  I have to cross reference them on Yelp, then go back to GrubHub to order.  So I spot Capri Pizza and note they have been making pies in the Chicago area for decades, and I saw one line somewhere in their puffery that “they grind their own meat daily.”  Me too!

I’m a sucker for great sausage on pizza, so I took the plunge and ordered a sausage (only) pie and hoped that while I was too wimpy to drive that night, that the pizza driver would not be.  I know he would be well rewarded for the effort.

The pie came. Still hot. Take in the aroma.  Ahhhhhh.  It’s thin crust, “tavern cut,” as they say around Chicago (squares, not slices), so l lift one out, it’s got heft, from a lot of cheese, which is seriously melty, and I note the chunks of sausage are ample size and hand pulled.

And yes, it was great. Crispy but chewy crust, gobs o cheese, light sauce, and TERRIFIC SAUSAGE.  Ground daily and hand pulled!  So satisfying!

Here’s their dope and menu.  I’d go again, hell yes.  Menu, locations.

Capri Pizza Review
Capri's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Capri Pizza Review

Capri Pizza Review




Lombardis Italian Sausage Review


Lombardis Hot Italian Sausage ReviewRarely have I been able to find out so little about a product that I really wanted to share with you – I’m that excited about it. “Lombardi’s” is apparently a small/boutique/artisan sausage maker out of Chicago, which may or may not be owned by a small packer named Roma.

I have to say “may be owned” because I can’t find a reference to that one way or another, but I was able to determine that Lombardi’s is made in the small Roma plant. (Pictured below).

Various business sites list Roma has having sales of less than $750,000 annually, and between 5-10 employees. That’s a labor of love.

Speaking of love, I adore this product, Lombardi’s (Hot) Italian Sausage. Check out the ingredient list:  Pork, Water, Salt, Sugar, Spices, Paprika. Wow. Fantastic, huh?  Well, I think so.

The flavor is terrific, texture is perfect, and the casing makes for a great snap, if you’re having on a bun, whether you cook on the stove top or grill.

I made half the package like that and bunned them with kraut, and the rest I stripped the casings off of and pinched pieces to dot the top of a home made pizza. Superb. Bravo. Really.

But this company is so small, you’ll probably not be able to share my enthusiasm, unless you’re in the Chicago area and spot the sausages in a local supermarket.  I found mine at Woodman’s, a regional chain in Wisconsin and Illinois.

I love these babies.

Lombardis Hot Italian Sausage Review


Lombardis Hot Italian Sausage Review

Roma Packing Chicago


Lombardis Hot Italian Sausage Review




Lombardis Italian Sausage Review


Gramma Pearls Sausage Review

Gramma Pearls Sausage Review

Home made sausage pizza

Don’t bother trying to find anything out about this product online, I spent a bunch of time doing that and came up pretty short.  I can’t even tell you exactly where I purchased it, other than a suburban Chicago grocery.  So a lot of this should be prefaced with “apparently.”

This product is made in Harvard, IL, it seems by Jones Packing Company, which started in 1952.  Harvard is the most distant NW suburb reached by commuter rail in the Chicago area.  A pic of (apparently) Jones is below.

According to the USDA establishment number of the package, the product is actually produced at Roma Packing, Inc., in Chicago. (pic below).

This is a pure pork sausage, described on the package as “hot.”  It comes in a clear vacuum pack, and contains the same types of herbs and spices one would find in traditional “hot” Italian sausage, i.e. fennel.

I split the package in two, and fried half of it until it was crumbles, and used it to top a home made pizza last night.  The balance was made into patties for breakfast this morning.

In both cases, the product pleased me very much.  It’s a very fine grind, so it is easily chewable. (Some pork sausages seem “tough”).  The flavor is outstanding, and there is a little bit of heat, as advertised.

I’ll buy it again if I can find it.  One story I read referred to Jones Packing having their own retail store, which I’ll go check out.

Gramma Pearls Sausage Review

Jones Packing, Harvard, IL


Gramma Pearls Sausage Review

Roma Packing, Chicago









Gramma Pearls Sausage Review


Jewel Italian Sausage Review


Jewel Italian Sausage ReviewPicked up a package of fresh hot  Italian sausage at my local Jewel-Osco; the chain is part of the Albertsons et al grocery empire owned by Cerberus Capital.

The store brand sausage is packed for Jewel stores by a Chicago area meat company called Randolph Packing, which also sells products under their own brands.  (Factory picture below).

It’s a medium heat, nicely flavored sausage; my own personal method of cooking fresh sausages is to par boil them and then do a little pan fry action.

Here I’ve got a few of them swimming in Italian beef broth, ready to join the seasoned slices of beef on a French roll for a Chicago favorite, an Italian Beef “combo” sandwich.

Jewel Italian Sausage Review


Jewel Italian Sausage Review




Jewel Italian Sausage Review


New Orleans, LA – R & O Restaurant


Back in the day, a part of the Lake (Ponchartrain) front in New Orleans was called “Bucktown.” I’ll leave it to you to find out why. Bucktown had bars, restaurants, businesses that catered to the fishing fleet parked on the shore. Today, Bucktown is mostly made up of the Corps of Engineers Levee (now, new and improved!), and a few restaurants have survived.

About the only one with a sense of longevity and continuity, is the R&O, which says on the front of the building “Restaurant and Catering” and says on the menu “Pizza Restaurant.”

Identity crisis? In fact “no,” and most people go to R&O for boiled and fried seafood platters, piled high with local goodness – oysters, crawfish, shrimp, crabs, fish.

Used to be the restaurants here would take the seafood right out of the Lake, but these days, product comes from around the local region.

In addition to the seafood, R&O has a complete Italian dinner menu, sandwiches and pizzas, so it’s pretty high on the family dining list, with something to please most every one. And since it’s an oyster outlet (down here we say “er-ster”, tho), there is always an ample supply of saltines on the table to shut up those rugrats ankle biters.

But I go for the pizza. To my tastes, it’s one of the best in New Orleans, which is not exactly pizza heaven, despite the large influence of Italians in the region, and a great many excellent Italian restaurants.

In fact “pizza” and “dearth” go together here, in my mind.

R&O’s has a great thin crust, bubbly/chewy on the rim, crispy inside, cooked on a standard gas two-decker, like Blodgett or Baker’s Pride (I didn’t peek).

New Orleans is a great town to get Italian sausage, and the hand-pulled chunks on R&O’s pizza are no exception. Excellent texture, seasonings, and cooked to perfection. Real cheese and a mild red sauce (here we call it “red gravy”) bind it all together. The cheese melds together so well, that if you attempt to remove a slice immediately after the pizza has been served, that cheese is going to pull away. Wait a minute! The whole experience will go better.

During the seven years I lived here, I searched uptown, downtown, all around for a good pizza, and R&O became my consistent choice.

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R & O's Pizza Place on Urbanspoon

New Orleans Pizza


Algonquin, IL – Fradillio’s


Fradillio’s is another locally owned “hot dog centric” food establishment in the far northwestern ‘burbs of Chicago.  Featuring the best in local suppliers, Fradillio’s offers hot dogs and polish sausage from Vienna Beef, and Italian Beef from local favorite supplier Devanco.

I went with a bacon cheeseburger, cooked on the charbroiler, with a great bun, and it was delish.  Crinkle cut fries are on tap, served with just the right crispiness and lightly salted.

Fradillio’s offers a complete catering service, where you can feed a family or a crowd;  fill up about 30 persons with 5 pounds of Italian beef, a pan of mostaccioli, a pan of Italian sausage, a large bowl of house salad, and 10 loaves of French bread for $175.  Many other options and sizes available, including wings, ribs, hot dogs, and the like.

Fradillio’s is located at the corner of Highway 62 (Algonquin Road) and Randall Road, at the north end of the Randall Road shopping ‘mecca’.

Fradillio's Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon


Tigard,OR – Pizza Caboose


Pizza preferences are such a personal thing, aren’t they? One man’s cheese eden is another man’s slop. Same with crust, sauce, toppings. I can forgive a lot of deficiencies if the crust and/or toppings are superb.

Pizza Caboose, in Tigard, OR, a suburb of Portland, delivers their pizzas in “radio dispatched trucks with ovens”, and judging by the size of the fleet when I have driven past this joint, a lot of people’s personal preferences must match the Caboose’s recipe.

It’s somewhat spendy for delivery pizza, the large (16″) Caboose Special (salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, black olives, mushrooms, beef and Italian sausage, cost me $30 delivered, including tip.

I order from them about 3x a year, only, but I have never been unhappy with the pie. We’ve eaten inside there once, and that was ok as well, but it’s more of a place to take your kids than a place for an adult night out.

As I said above, I can forgive certain deficiencies in a pie if the crust and toppings are superb, and, both of those criteria are met here, but there’s really nothing to forgive. The Caboose is extremely generous with the toppings, as you can see, the cheese is quality, the sauce non-offensive, and the crust holds up well upon delivery, through consumption, and even when left out on the counter overnight, and eaten the next morning (the true test for me on how good a pizza is). Their crust is not thin, and not thick, but crispy and chewy at the same time, with a hint of buttery flavoring goodness.

No puddles of grease, no congealed cheese the next morning, and probably my favorite thing about the whole experience, is a really excellent grade of hand-pulled Italian sausage, packed with flavor and with adequate amounts of fennel (to my taste).

The other pork toppings are equally up to my standards. The mushrooms and black olives, not so much, but I really don’t care about them anyway.

I don’t really rate the places I go to, other than to say as I have here, whether they meet my preferences, or not, and perhaps that helps you decide whether they meet your own ideals.

No online ordering, but the menu is reproduced below.   Give them a call, and have a ‘radio dispatched oven truck’ bring you a hot pie tonight.

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Pizza Caboose on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – New York New York Italian Restaurant


Mrs BDB was hitting the road witht he gal pals tonight, which, as you know, means BurgerDogBoy gets a food self-indulgence night.  Ok, yeah, you’re right, all my nights are pretty much self-indulgent nights.   Even tho I had a pot of left over home made bolognese in my icebox, I had a hankering for Italian that someone else made, because I was exhausted from fooling with a Wii remote for half the afternoon, trying to coax it in to service, so Mrs. BDB and I might sword fight later in the evening.

I fired up Delivered Dish, Portland’s version of the multi-restaurant delivery service, and perused the Italian choices for my zip code.    Just down the street from me is a place called “New York, New York”, which I have driven by a thousand times and never been in.  My reasons for not trying it in the past are sort of inane, the building’s outward appearance is kind of ramshackle, and the windows, for some reason, give the appearance to the outside world of being absolutely filthy.   They had a second location in Tigard, which is now closed, I believe.

I’ve had a number of great meals in my life in places that most people would call pretty disgusting (as I did too), so I shouldn’t have been predisposed not to eat here, I just was.

But I decided to try them out anyway, and went with my usual 3 meat pasta, spaghetti bolognese, with a side of sausage, and a side meatball.   It came with a small loaf of warm bread, I ordered cheese bread with black olives, and I also ordered a gnocchi soup that I put in the cooler for Mrs. BDB later.  She is a soup hound!

I plated.   The pasta was done right, my personal preference would have been for far more meat sauce.  It was cooked down from real tomatoes, which were still present, and had that residual watery debris in the pan that comes from cooking tomatoes.  The sauce was mild but flavorful.

The meatball ($2.50 each) was the size of a baseball, and surely included the usual meatball fillers of egg and breadcrumbs, some dice onion, not sure what the combination of meat was, onion was the dominant flavor.   The meatball was firm to the touch prior to launching into it, but crumbled easily, not a complete crumble, but certainly the sign that the meat was lean.    The crumbliest meatball I have ever seen, and I can’t imagine how they are prepared, is at Venezia, an old timey place in New Orleans.  Their larger than baseball-sized meatballs come intact when served, but once your fork touches them, they crumble into minced pieces on the plate.  They are wonderful.

New York New York’s sausage was the ‘sweet’ Italian kind, again, very mild.    The cheese bread was soft and chewy, with gooey real cheese, and canned black olives.

I like the spaghetti enough that I would get it again, but I would ask (and even pay for) more bolognese.  I don’t think I’d get the meatballs again, but the sausage was good enough.

Delivered Dish tacks on a mild delivery charge, and I believe the restaurants jack the prices a little from their regular menus.   Soup, bread, pasta  with meat-sauce, side of sausage, side of meatball, $30.50 delivered.  Spendy?   Depends on your priorities.  Tonight,  for me, it was exactly the right price.

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New York New York on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Chicago’s Windy City Hot Dogs


There’s a new Chicago hot dog in town, and it’s a real “wiener!” (Oh, I know, “groan.”). Chicago hot dogs aren’t all that easy to come by in Portland, and Chicago Italian Beef & Sausage combo sandwiches are even rarer. Yes, there is that place across the river run by that cantankerous old coot, but the differences are elementary. Windy City buys all their product from Vienna Beef, the preeminent Chicago vendor, and the “other guy” makes his own.

One could argue the advantage of either method, but if you’ve been to Chicago, or lived there twice, like I have, you get a craving for the “real thing”, and Windy City fills the bill, seemingly ordering all of their provisions (and decorations) from Vienna.

Windy City’s menu (below) covers the full range of Chicago style foods, from the loaded up Vienna hot dog (mustard, relish, chopped onion, tomato, pickle, sport peppers, celery salt on a poppy seed bun), to Italian Beef (with giardiniera or sweet peppers), the Maxwell Street Polish, and sides like cheese fries or chili cheese fries.

Windy City also has burgers on the menu, I’ll have to get back there to sample those, and I’m interested in chowing down on the “Rush Street Lunch”, chili cheese fries topped with a chopped polish and bacon.

Kid’s menu, a couple of beers, and meatball and pastrami sandwiches to boot!

Both the dog and the combo were spot on, exactly as one would experience in Chicago. For my money, (and that’s all that counts with me), Windy City’s Italian Beef is better than the other guys, because it is the familiar Vienna texture and seasoning.

Windy City is at 8680 SW Canyon Rd., call 208-3031 if you’re inclined to place your order ahead of time, or for carry out. Open 11-7 six days.

If you’re so inclined to order Vienna products by the dozen, to party at home, you can buy direct from the manufacturer.

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Windy City Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Bellagios Pizza


bellagio logo

I’ve generally been unsatisfied with delivery pizzas in Portland. Well,for that matter, pizzas in general. I’ve found a few I like, like the one at the Silver Dollar Bar on Broadway in down town, and the slices at the take away outlet for Pazzo {Pazzoria), on Washington near Broadway.

Tonight I ordered delivery from a local chain, Bellagios. They started in 1969, and have grown to 14 locations in the metro area.

Their “mantra” is to provide “the very best”, and that starts with freshly made dough and sauce daily.

Why had I been reluctant to try them? A silly reason. I like to order online, not on the phone. I don’t want to hear “…, hold please….”, and have my call forgotten, or have some guy’s scribble turn my olives into onion because the pie maker can read the order. I think online ordering eliminates some portions of human error, and Bellagios started their online ordering recently. (Start your online order here).

I ordered a large “Butcher Block” pizza, a large spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette, and an order of cheese sticks, with pizza dipping sauce. The Butcher Block toppings include Mozzarella, Salami, Pepperoni, Canadian Bacon, Italian Sausage. The cheese sticks, like most places, is pizza dough with cheese, sliced lengthwise.

The total was about $30. The arrival time, noted in a confirmation email, was about 45 minutes out. The driver arrived earlier than the appointed time, and was courtesy, and the order was complete.

The pizza crust was a little thicker than my preference, but very good, nonetheless. The edges were bubbled crispy, and the middle was chewy. The crust had a buttery flavor. The meat toppings were of higher than expected quality, with a special note about the Italian sausage, which actually WAS Italian sausage, and not something like “Sysco Meat Crumbles #3). The pepperoni and salamis were grand, and the Canadian bacon very thin sliced. The sauce on the pizza itself was fine, rather non-descript, but the pizza sauce that came with the cheese sticks was firm, tomato-y and flavorful. I couldn’t tell it it and the sauce on the pizza were the same.

The topping ingredients were atop the cheese, so with slices having a nominal amount of “hang”, an occasional meat slice ended up in my lap. Minimal, tho.  They were more than generous with the quantity of meat toppings.

The salad ingredients were crisp and fresh. I especially like the cherry tomatoes. (May have been grape tomatoes, they looked like tiny Romas). The kitchen had followed my orders exactly as to what salad ingredients to leave out, and the dressing was on the side in a plastic cup.

The cheese stick crust was considerably thinner than the pizza crust, and awash with a very strong garlic flavor, with was fine with Mrs. BDB and I. I might challenge them next time to make my pizza (yes, there will be a next time) with the cheese stick crust.

My personal ultimate pizza test is how good a slice is after sitting in the box on the counter overnight, and Bellagios passed that test with flying colors. Munching one now at 5AM, it is more than fine.

Bellagios offers a gluten-free crust option, made with rice flour, that might be interesting and should be very crisp, at least other fried rice flour products I have consumed locally have been. The gluten-free pies only come in 10″, must have something to do with the dough’s stretchability.

Bellagios menu is online here. In addition to pizza, cheese sticks, and salads, they offer calzones, and grinders (subs).

My only complaint folks is no green olives on the menu! Other than that, it’s a damned fine pie, folks. You’re my new standard for home delivery!

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Bellagios Pizza on Urbanspoon

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