Last weekend I cruised by Santa Rosa's Coddingtown Mall and spotted the signs at Hot Dog City promoting Italian Beef, Italian Sausage, or combo from Vienna Beef. The Chicago hot dog here is super, so I didn't hesitate to give the Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich a try. My only previous experience with this sandwich genre was a few years ago at the former Gumbah's in Vallejo. Now I have another datapoint.
Image of Hot Dog City's Italian beef sandwich -
The first thing I noticed was how the bun had some heft to it here and didn't get soggy despite the considerable amount of gravy and oil from the spicy peppers. In fact when i picked up the sandwich to take the first bite, the juices drained off the roll to make a deep bi-colored puddle on the paper liner of the plastic basket. Despite this run-off, the thinly shaved beef was still quite juicy, and don't worry, I did mop of the juices with the end of the bun for each bite.
With a uniform thickness, the beef was more tender and thinner here. It had more of a processed yet fuller flavor and more succulence vs. the fresh roasted and plainer taste but drier and thicker cut meat at Gumbah's. Hot Dog City's gravy didn't taste as much like beef bouillon and had less assertive dried herb notes than Gumbah's. The Vienna beef tasted fine on its own, whereas Gumbah's definitely needed all the fixings.
I'd ordered with sweet and hot peppers and both were heaped on. The sweet peppers were fleshy slabs of roasted green bells. The giardiniera here was almost all carrots and peppers, didn't spot the cauliflower and celery in Gumbah's homemade blend. And it was rife with sport peppers. Too hot for me, I pulled most of them out and counted 17 pencil eraser-sized chunks left behind.
The Vienna Beef sandwich here was easier to eat (only needed three napkins) and had tastier meat. Yet, it didn't have the same individuality that Gumbah's rendition offered. I guess it's the difference between a faithfully executed mass-produced meal and a slightly-off but handmade and quirky one. The winner would be a combination of the two.
Chili dog -
Chicago dog -
Rajun Cajun -
Gumbah's Italian beef -
Hot Dog City
631 4th St Ste 1, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Hot Dog City - CLOSED, moved
804 Coddingtown Center, Santa Rosa, CA 95401