Tag Archives: sandwich

Al’s Beef

For my third and final Italian beef sandwich of the Chicago trip, I tried Al’s Beef.

Portillo’s is still better. This one was nice, but just not quite up to snuff. The giardiniera here was just celery. No carrots or other pickled veggies. Also, when you ask for spicy, they just give you the celery with crushed red pepper and a bit of roasted pepper strips in it; not sliced hot peppers like both Mr. Beef and Portillo’s. I added provolone this time to mix it up.

Oh well. You live and learn. It was still enjoyable though.

AL’S BEEF
169 W Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60654

Portillo’s

Portillo’s is a Chicago mainstay, so it was only natural that it was our very first stop on a trip to Chicago last weekend.

We ordered two Chicago classics, the Chicago style hot dog (poppy seed bun, sport pepper, yellow mustard, relish, pickle, etc), and the Italian beef sandwich (shaved beef with giardiniera).

The dog was pretty much perfect. I would have liked more sport peppers, but hey. No complaints otherwise.

This was my first time having a proper Chicago Italian beef sandwich, and I was blown away. The dip into Italian herb infused gravy is the perfect way to finish this sandwich, and the spicy giardiniera is the perfect way to get pickled flavors into it. I added some shredded mozzarella for good measure. This is different from a Philly cheesesteak for sure, but I like it much better. It’s more about the beef!

We also tried the chocolate cake shake and the frozen custard, both of which were great desserts.

PORTILLO’S
100 W Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60654

9Ten

For years I joked about this place going out of business, because as soon as it opened, the City of New York decided to rip up the sidewalk in front of their establishment while simultaneously renovating the stairway down into the subway on the northwest corner of 57th & 7th.

The whole spot was a shit show, and unless you l knew to maneuver the construction walkway to get to a particular establishment (bar, cleaners, bodega), then you’d be walking by the joint without ever looking. So I used to say “9Ten is going to close on 11Twelve.”

I imagine all businesses along that stretch suffered, but 9Ten must have felt it the hardest since they just opened as the construction began.

It was a diner before, and it’s a diner now. Three years later, and with countless millions of city contract dollars completely milked dry, the sidewalk and subway stairs are open. Business is booming.

It’s very nice inside and the menu prices are extremely fair considering the location.

My wife and I popped in for a quickie before flying out to the Azores for vacation. Here’s what we had:

The Reuben sandwich with French fries.

Not sure why it’s not listed on the menu without the fries, like everything else is, but at $14 this is a great deal. It’s more like a pumped up grilled cheese than a Reuben but I really loved it.

Next up was the roast beef sandwich.

This has melted cheese and horseradish sauce but it is otherwise a cold cut style sandwich. Very nice. Slightly pricey for $11.50 but my wife and I were full between this and the Rueben that came with enough fries to share.

I’ll definitely be back – if not for another Rueben, then to try out the burgers.

9Ten
910 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019

Pat LaFrieda Meat Counter

I’ve been fixing to get to this spot in The Pennsy for a while, and I finally had the opportunity last weekend. I organized a bunch of Instagram food savages to come in and shoot pics, sample the menu and promote the LaFrieda brand, which I have come to love so much.

First up, the roast beef sandwich:

This baby is served cold cut style, with bleu cheese, horseradish aioli, pickled red onions and watercress on a toasted semolina roll.

It’s very difficult to choose a favorite among so many selections here. It really depends on what mood you’re in.

Next was the black Angus steak sandwich.

That’s sliced filet mignon with melted Monterey Jack cheese, caramelized onions, baby spinach and au jus on a toasted ciabatta roll. Awesome.

Grandpa’s meatball sandwich is pretty tight.

Tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella on a pressed ciabatta roll. Simple and delicious.

This fucker was intensely flavorful.

Slow roasted pork with broccoli rabe and melted provolone on a ciabatta roll. So juicy!

“World’s Greatest Hot Dog” is a bold claim for a menu item to make, but LaFrieda really delivers with this.

This baby is actually two hot dogs with honey mustard, caramelized onions and hot peppers.

As you can see, the dogs are split and grilled, which is a big win for me. I love that preparation.

And finally, the short rib platter.

This is slow roasted and maple glazed, served with greens and a celery root slaw.

For $15 this has to be one of the best buys in NYC for a steak.

This stuff is fork tender too. I was barely able to pick this up without it falling apart – that’s how soft it is!

Do yourself a favor and get this right away. 9/10.

My wife had the genius idea to pop all the items from the soft rib platter onto one of the LaFrieda homemade potato chips.

Pretty incredible! And wash it all down with fresh lemonade or iced tea from the taps.

PAT LAFRIEDA MEAT COUNTER
The Pennsy
2 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10121

Saiguette

This little take-out joint slings a pretty decent banh mi. I haven’t tried their Vietnamese food yet, but I can at least give a run down of their “classic” sub. I put the word “classic” in quotes, because there really isn’t much pate, head cheese or other items that would make this a classic viet sandwich. Perhaps they gave me the roast pork shoulder by mistake? Not sure. It could just be that they’re using different ingredients from the other shops.

SAIGUETTE
935 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10025

Charrua

I came to Charrua with a crew of food influencers to sample some of the menu offerings during their weekend brunch, and take photos for Instagram. Here’s a smattering of what we tried:

Best of the meal goes to the sausages: mild chorizo and blood. The blood sausage was probably the best I’ve ever had.

Empanadas

This chivito (sandwich) was called “El Canadiense.”

It contained filet mignon, bacon, mozzarella, ham, hard-boiled egg, caramelized onion, roasted red peppers, olives, lettuce, tomato and mayo, served with homemade fries. It was good!

The steak was overcooked, but it still had some good flavor despite being gray almost entirely through the center. 5/10.

I also tasted some of the grilled skirt steak on a mixed platter. This was also overcooked, but as badly as the hanger steak. The texture, however, wasn’t quite as nice as the hanger. 4/10.

In short: sausage – excellent; sandwich – good; steak; order it rare.

CHARRUA
131 Essex St
New York, NY 10002

Meatball Shop

The Meatball Shop just opened up a new location on 9th Avenue at 53rd Street. The space is pretty cool, and it even has a bar attached called “Sidepiece,” where they feature all of their great cocktails and more food items.

My favorite cocktail there is a tequila and mezcal based drink called “the girl with the nice pear.”

My buddy brought me with him to shoot some photos for Instagram influencing purposes, so we were able to try a bunch of stuff. We started with the buffalo chicken meatballs, which were really great.

Next, this truly one of a kind tomato soup that is served with grilled cheese balls. This is only available for a limited time and only at the Hell’s Kitchen location, so get on it while you can.

This dish was awesome: pork meatballs in pesto on a bed of spaghetti. I really liked the texture and flavors here.

Meatball Shop also does something called “smash” sandwiches. Basically they flatten a pair of meatballs, cover them with melted cheese and dress with sauce before putting it all on a nice sandwich bun. This one here is made with chicken meatballs and topped with their classic tomato sauce and melted mozzarella. We added an egg on top because we rule.

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We didn’t stop there. Dessert consisted of a chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream sandwich. Simple and delicious.

But my favorite was the brown sugar ice cream banana brulee split.

Amazing meal. I’m sold on this place for sure.

MEATBALL SHOP
798 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

The “Banh Mia” Sandwich

Last night The Cake Dealer put together the most incredible sandwich I’ve ever eaten in my life. A successful combination of Vietnamese and Italian cuisines – a “Vietalian” banh mi sandwich that she called the “Banh Mia” sandwich.

Mortadella, prosciutto, pickled carrots, pickled daikon, fresh cucumbers, cilantro, mayo, maggi sauce, sri racha sauce, and nduja on a baguette. If this isn’t a thing, it will be soon – mark my words. She would have lines down the block if she opened up a sub shop with these.

I was pushing for Italian bread to make the circle complete, but the French baguette is a very important part of Vietnamese banh mi, so it had to stay.

We had actually seen something similar before, in Philly, but more along the sausage route.

Although we didn’t try that sausage and pepper banh mi, I think my wife’s is better and actually makes more sense as fusion cuisine for the following reasons: (1) the mortadella is similar to the bologna and head cheese; (2) the prosciutto is similar to the ham, and (3) the nduja is similar to the pate – which are all used in the classic, traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches.

Cafe Thanh Truc

My wife and I strolled by this place and picked up a classic sub. It was fantastic, though a bit smaller than I am used to seeing up here in NYC. But for $4.50, it was worth every penny.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it to share, but I did get a shot of the outside.

This was in Philly, by the way, near Pat’s & Geno’s. As such, they had a Vietalian version of banh mi that featured Italian sausage:

Didn’t try it.

CAFE THANH TRUC
1037 S 8th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Via Quadronno

This joint is known for its incredible panini sandwiches and fresh Italian menu selections. I’m gonna get right down to business here, because me and a group of Instagram influencers tried a ton of items.

My favorite sandwich: La Madunina. This has prosciutto, fresh mozz, olive tapenade and tomato. Very simple but incredibly delicious.

Tentazione: prosciutto, smoked mozz, arugula, shrimp and sauce.

Americano: brie, fresh mozz, corn, arugula and tomatoes.

Bip-Bip: bresaola, goat cheese, shrimp, arugula and sauce.

Il Toast: boiled ham and melted fontina cheese.

Lo Spazzino: roast pork, arugula, provolone, red onion and capers.

They also do some open faced toast style brunch sandwiches as well. We tried the smoked salmon and crab meat, fresh mozz and tomato, and asparagus with cheese.

Speaking of asparagus, they also offer it in a salad form with lots of crab meat on top. Wow! That’s a serious portion.

And this veggie salad with tuna was so fresh and tasty.

The mussels were really nice too, served in a light but spicy tomato broth. Nicely executed.

The pesto pasta had a great flavor and was perfectly cooked.

As did the lasagna. I’m usually very hard on lasagne, because my mom made a killer lasagna. This was fantastic. The photo doesn’t do it justice. You need to see the layering.

I also had a steak. Surprise! The meat quality was indeed good (DeBragga), and the peppercorn sauce for the top was delicious. It’s also served on a bed of broccoli rabe, and with a side of roasted fingerling potatoes.

Enough photos of that? I think so. We also had dessert. Several tart pies, a wonderful tiramisu, some gelato and sorbets, and an assortment of Italian cookies.

And we tasted several coffee and hot chocolate selections that had awesome designs in the foam.

And a drink made with Prosecco, raspberry jam and St. Germain.

Definitely give this place a try. There’s also another location about 10 streets down from this one.

VIA QUADRONNO
1228 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10128