I am almost embarrassed to admit that in 20+ years of living in Chicago I have never visited this Chicago institution. Romanian Kosher Sausage is a place that ReneG would love, and probably does, it's a bit like Ramova, Filbert's and Gino's Bar and Pizza on Granville all rolled into one, albeit with a Jewish twist. Romanian is a step back in time, men in hats, and not just yarmulkes or Cub's hats, but the type that natty 75-year-old men wear with their museum quality 30-year-old suits.
This must be my month for cute as hell 80-year-old's as the 90-lb tyrant, who could barely see over the display counter, was absolutely endearing and terrifying all at the same time. I could tell that she was growing impatient with my window shopping, subtlety giving me that hurry-up sideways look, but at the same time not wanting to alienate a 'big-boned' customer with an obvious interest in smoked meat products. Finally the business woman in her won out and she, brusquely, asked me if I liked sausage. When I emphatically responded in a positive fashion, she handed me a thick slice of salami to sample.
What I found most interesting was the way she looked me directly in the eye when I tasted the sausage. She was looking for my true response to the product and the eyes never lie. Unfortunately she did not get the 'eyes light up' response she was looking for, the sausage was ok, but not quite to my taste. The hot dogs, of which I bought 4 to take home, were also ok, but nothing earth moving. The hot dogs were cased in an odd brown stripe plastic cello wrap, which I'm sure aids extrusion from the hot dog manufacturing machine, but is not very appealing to a natural casing fanatic like myself.
What I did find surprisingly enjoyable was the corned beef and pastrami, quite possibly the best commercial product I have had in Chicago, but then again I am a bit like Da Mayor and dim sum and tend to like what I had last the best. (up to a point) The corned beef was slightly fatty, but quite flavorful, for me the perfect lean to fat ratio and the pastrami had a peppery flavor and compressed quality I found appealing.
I have found that not only does the same deli's corned beef and pastrami vary widely from day to day, but from slice to slice as they cut from flat to point. Given that, and the fact that everyone enjoys differing ratios of fat to lean, take my recommendation for Romanian Kosher's corned beef and pastrami with caution. YMMV.
Romanian Kosher also sells fresh meat, the bone in rib eye looked good and old style Jewish kishka, which I love roasted in a pan with chicken so the kishka absorbs the chicken drippings.
Romanian Kosher Sausage Company
7200 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60626