Posts Tagged ‘Portland Italian Beef’
I’ve been blessed to have lived in some of the great food cities of the world; and there’s always at least one local favorite I miss when I have moved away from those burgs – Italian beef from Chicago, po-boys from New Orleans to mention two.
Heating roast beef correctly in au jus is an art form, if the temp is just a 1/10th of a degree too hot (it seems to me) it’s easy for your beef to end up curled and chewy. Many in Portland have tried to master the art of the basic dip sandwich, purportedly invented in Los Angeles at either Cole’s or Philippes, both of whom claim bragging rights.
In both Chicago and New Orleans, who has the best beef dip (respectively, “Italian Beef” or “Roast Beef Po-Boy”) can lead to heated arguments, if not downright brawls.
In Portland, there can seem to be no question, the title goes to relative newcomer “Wagsy’s Hot Beef Sandwiches”, a cart at SW Fifth and Oak. I’ve tried the rest, and now I’ve found the best.
These guys have created a menu based around different variations of beef dip, and after the first bite of the “Chi-Town”, I was hooked. An ample quantity of quality, thin-sliced roast beef, on very fresh bread, served “wet”, and in beef dip terms, that means the loaf is dipped in the au jus slightly for a taste and texture sensation.
The home town version in Chicago is highly flavored with garlic and herbs, but Wagsy’s have toned this down, I suspect, for a wider audience, and for my palate, it’s just perfect.
For five bucks, it’s a very filling sandwich, and it comes with a small ramekin of a vegetable medley (giardiniera) which you may dress the sandwich with if that’s your preference.
A nice finishing touch is provided with a wet nap and toothpick taped to the sandwich box.
Wagsy’s offers some other interpretations of the dip, a Philly style, and a BBQ one, as well as a veggie choice.
Good job guys. You’ve a winning combination. I can easily see a leap to multiple city brick and mortars in your future.
I’ve been in here before, had an Italian beef ‘hero’ (they called it “Chicago beef”) which was pretty good, as I recall. I didn’t ask them then, or today, if they made the roast in-house or purchased it. It’s not Vienna’s product, which I usually prefer.
Odd tho, when I was here before, I didn’t notice that they served pizza, and probably the reason was last time I was focused on getting a sandwich, or the fact it’s not on their printed menus, and/or, there is a very small sign offering it, and/or, everybody local already knows this. Or some combination of the above.
Somebody has said “you should try Geraldi’s pizza,” so I thought I would spend a leisurely afternoon alone there, munching a pie, reading the paper, at least that was my intent, but my intent was stabbed in the back by a domestic crisis of minuscule proportions.
So I told them to box up the pie for consumption in BurgerDogBoy’s
testing lab, er, man cave, so he could eat, pout, smoke, and do the Sunday crossword simulaneously. Multi-tasking, as it were.
I noticed they had a standard two deck gas oven against the back wall (but didn’t notice if it was Blodgett or Baker’s Pride, so I knew what I was approximately in for in the finished product. I ordered sausage, pepperoni, and double cheese, very hard to find a pie place that offers green olives around here, one of my favorite toppings, especially the marinated green Silicians from Roma, the pizza suppliers. (or whomever distributes the standard in this category).
I didn’t watch assembly, so I have no idea if they roll the crusts on the spot, or what the other ingredients shape up like, tho I have a few clues from popping the cherry on the take home box. The sausage was bulk, hand-pulled in chunks, which I always prefer. It has a little kick to it. The pepperoni slices are larger than, say Hormel’s product of pizza, and it has a distinctive pepperoni flavor. No cupping or charring, either, so it’s a lean product. Real cheese produces the “stretch” when you lift a slice from the box, and also assures the toppings stay in place during the “lift.”
The sauce was a bit sweeter than my personal preference, but not enough to put me off the pie. It also could have been cooked a little longer, for my taste, but that was not a distraction either. The crust is neither thin nor thick, has some crisp and char on the edges, but the balance of it is doughy-chewy.
If I lived closer, this would be a regular stop for me, especially if I could persuade them to stock the olives. On Worstpizza.com‘s scale of 1-8 slices, I give Geraldi’s a solid 7. And that says a lot, coming from me!
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.
Man, I love Italian Beef. Especially served as a combo, with Italian Sausage, Beef, and juice both. They should fit into some category here. Chicago is da place to get da sandwiches, but now you can find one close to home by checking out this directory.
There’s a pretty fine one in Portland, Michael’s, and when I said it was “as good as Chicago,”, the owner (who can be kinda uppity), said “it’s better than any in Chicago.”
I like lots of different places in Chicago. I like Al’s.