Restaurants & Bars

Chicago Area Italian Beef

Roma's Italian Beef with a side of Info

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Roma's Italian Beef with a side of Info

G Wiv | Oct 15, 2003 10:48 AM

Had lunch at Roma's on N Cicero yesterday, very good combo w/fries. The beef was flavorful with just enough fat to lend flavor and the grilled (gas) Italian sausage was juicy with medium coarse ground meat and a nice hit of fennel. The fries were crisp, as I asked for, and cut in-house. The Gonella bread held up nicely to my order of heavy on the giardiniera and dipped, but I ate there, a 20-minute wait before eating would have rendered the bread a soggy mess.

What was especially interesting about my lunch yesterday was the fact that, unlike Mr. Hammond's burger with a side of contempt, I had a combo with a side of Chicago beef stand info. I initially engaged Ron, the owner, in a brief conversation about gas vs. charcoal for beef stand sausage. When I, justifiably, complimented him on Roma's sausage he said it was a recipe that he developed. This led to a discussion as to how Ron made everything in house from the beef to the giardiniera.

When I asked him about Scala supplying some of the beef stands in the area with prepared product he emphatically stated that all of the "bigger" beef stands, by which he meant quality stands like Mr. Beef, Al's, Johnnie's made their own beef. When I mentioned the fact that Scala trucks were seen on a regular basis at Johnnie's, Ron said that was, most likely, due to the fact that Scala was selling them raw meat to turn into Italian Beef using their own recipes and methods.

I discussed this briefly on the phone with Rob yesterday and, after intoning in his most Mayoral voice "Very Interesting" he hypothesized that Scala, like Vienna Beef and their corned beef products, sells many deferent types of beef, from raw meat all the way to sliced/portioned controlled Italian beef. This led to the realization that we we have been asking the wrong questions, therefore never getting the right answers. In other words, buying beef from Scala's and making your own Italian beef are not mutually exclusive.

I should also point out that at no time did Ron state that Johnnie's buys beef from Scala, he simply offered up the fact that Scala sells many types of products, including fresh meat, as one possible explanation.

Ron, who was a fountainhead of interesting info, in response to a question about Roma's giardiniera having a high proportion of celery was that he bought what ever was, to a point, least expensive at the marketplace. This answers a few questions as to the seemingly endless variety and proportions of giardiniera, it's, to a certain extent, market driven.

Ron went on to say that he tries to keep the proportion of peppers to other vegetables constant and that he uses only 'finger peppers,' fresh, that he cuts in-house. Some beef stands, according to Ron, buy precut peppers in vinegar which he says gives giardiniera an off taste.

This leads me to interesting thoughts on our (my) expectations of uniformity, consistency in products, the antithesis to artisanal, so to speak. But I think I will leave that to others on the list. I'm an eater not a thinker. {smile}

Enjoy,
Gary

Roma's
4237 N Cicero
Chicago, IL
773-725-5715

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