A few weeks ago, I ate at Johnnie's with Seth and a friend of his. My weak sandwich almost had me posting about Johnnies in the over-rated thread. I guess that poor performance only had me appreciating the comeback today all the more.
Like Michael Johnson rounding that final curve in the 400, Johnnies was pushing hard, yet effortlessly today. Lemon ice got stacked into impossibly high paper cups, the men doing the beefs and sausages worked as smoothly as a 1950's Chevorlet plant, moving effortlessly between filling orders and wiping down the stainless steel counters. Each completed bag was tossed with a flourish to man at register who maintained the grand tradition of the monotone.
The show put me in such a great mood for my order, but the show could not compete with my un-rolled sammy. My three quibbles last time were skimmpy beef, over charred sausage and less than fresh bread. Happily, none of that happened today. A nicely spirited gravy tied all the ingredients together, and that Gonella roll, so wrong for a seafood po' boy, worked so well. The juice seeped just far enough into the dense dough to impregnate it with all the flavors, yet it did not totally fall apart. Near collapse of roll, especially at the fold is just part of the perfect Johnnie's experience. How you have to eat it fairly quickly to avoid total collapse.
Lest you think I walked away totally satisfied, I have to report that a clear blue sky deluded me into thinking things a bit more pleasant than they were. The famous gales of Elmood Park tossed one of the chowhounditas hot dogs, mustard side down, right into my beige cords. But I was so darn pleased with my combo, I barely got upset.
Johnnies Italian Beef
7500 W. North Ave., Elmwood Park
Tel: (708) 452-6000