Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Novi's Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Novi's Beef (Berwyn, IL)

There are a few scattered mentions of Novi's beef throughout the 'net but nothing specifically about it so im going to document it here on the "official Italian beef board of Chicago" for those curious.Novi's has been at their location in Berwyn since the 1960's and is a favorite stop for many eaters in the area. I first tried Novi's when I randomly spotted it taking the old route 66 route down Ogden and immediately gave it a try since I had not heard of it which is rare for me.

Nov's does a decent homemade beef, not bad, just not special. In my opinion it's similar to the beef served at Tore's but still not better. The gravy has a nice little spice kick to it. The problem I had with Novi's was their homemade hot peppers, which are bad, sorry but they are. You only get a little tiny cup (which they charge for) when you order a beef with hot. Why cant they just put the peppers on the beef like everyone else? its better that they didn't though because these were some of the worst homemade I have had. The fries are some of the best I have tasted and by the looks of the burgers and dog's of others, they may be the way to go here. Novi's also seems to do a popular catering business and they did have some nice deals on catered buckets of beef with bread and everything else you need.

Novi's beef has some of the best fries in Chicagoland

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 3
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 1

Score: 12/20

's Beef
6746 Ogden Ave.
Berwyn, IL 60402

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Little Joe's Homemade Beef & Sausage

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Lil' Joe's (Countryside, IL)

Its not often that I find a beef spot that I previously had no knowledge of but it happened this past year in Countryside, IL.

I found Lil' Joe's tucked into a strip of other business's hidden guessed it, one of those Al's beef/Nancy's pizza franchise's. The sign said "homemade beef since 1969" and the place looked like it hadn't changed much inside and that was all I needed to give it a try, that and the fact there were about 10 people eating in and taking out of Joe's while there was one person in the drive thru at Al's and no one inside. When I got a 2nd chance to go back to Joe's I was glad to taste it was no fluke. The first thing I thought when enjoying a Joe's IB was "this is what the beef's at Mr. Beef used to taste like". Its really a melt in your mouth type beef, very thin and very tender. The giardinara is not hot at all, so thats a small minus but it is loaded with celery, a small plus. Little Joe's is new to my all-beef team and its in the starting five maing it one of my five favorite beefs in Chicagoland. Its worth the drive down Ogden via Route 66 coming from Chicago for any beef connoisseur.

The meatball sandwich was also above average and worth getting again even though there were just two meatballs they were large. If LJ's was a little closer to me, they would see me in there often. Another big plus is this has to be the best place to get a beef and a beer, which they have on tap.

Beef with hot from Lil' Joe's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 5
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 3

Score: 16/20

Little Joe's
20 E. Plainfield Road
Countryside, IL 60525
(708) 352-9696

Monday, February 9, 2009

Max's Beef: Since 1957

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Max's has been doing Italian beef in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood for over 30 years. When you cruise along Chicago's Western ave, the longest street in the world, your going to find some Italian beef joints. Max's is one of the more well known along the street. Anyplace that has been around that long has to be doing something good and have a loyal following. You know that Max's does. First lets start out with the menu. Max's has an amazing menu selection that can take care of everyones taste palate. Max's does all the usual Chicago beef & dog stand foods and most are homemade and they have more than a few unique items as well which is also a plus.

Max's on Western ave. (Chicago, IL)

Max's has a unique beef and with this comes the argument of whether or not it is on peoples favorite's list. Max's has a very unique gravy that is a dark distinct red and loaded with garlic and other spices giving it a very unique flavor. One thing you have to give love to Max's for is the fact that they have a big tub of homemade peppers that are also unique that rest on each table. I for one hate when places charge extra for peppers. They are a part of a IB so add them into the price of the sandwich if you have to but they should come standard and not be extra. With all that said I am not a big fan of the giardinara at Max's, it is too oily for me and not green enough. The beef is also unique and I am also not a big fan of that. I think that Max's hasnt changed his approach which I cant knock anyone for but it just taste's like what a real old school beef would taste like before they had the machines to slice it up thin. It seems they havent changed their recipe to improve what a beef has progressed to. The meat is sliced medium and not thin and it gets a little rubbery sitting in the gravy all day.

Max's will allow you to order their signature gravy so you can have it with anything

I am not wasting anyones time with places I think you need to avoid at all costs. Therefore Max's gets love here on my site or else I wouldn't bother with it. Try a beef if you dont like it then you know that this isnt your style in the future. Just make sure to get an order of Ghetto fries. These are potatoes topped with barbecue sauce, raw onions, cheese, beef gravy and giardinara. Sounds good? it is. You can be sure ill have a fried out special coming soon.

Max's famous "ghetto fries"--Deal with it alderman.

Beef with Hot from Max's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 2
bread: 3
gravy: 2
hot peppers: 3

Score: 10/20

Max's Italian Beef
5754 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60659
(773) 989-8200

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jay's Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

After watching the long overdue Chicago episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No reservations" show I feel rejuvenated and ready for a brand new beef post. There is no doubt that Tony's show is the best food show and travel show for that matter on TV. For those of you that follow Smokin' Chokin' & Chowing With the King you can probably see how me and Mr. Bourdain are very alike (except when I do my Jamaica special this March there will be NO reservations) I love you and I love the show Tony but you really fucked up by not getting an Italian Beef. Just because you see the mosquito bite that is Rachel Ray eating a beef at Portillo's or the ultra corny Jay Leno praising Mr. Beef didn't mean you had to take a pass. The Italian Beef is king of all regional sandwiches and for the locals its Chicago's signature fast food item, even ahead of the hot dog. Go figure what a shock that Rachel Ray and Jay Leno dont have no clue on where to get a real Italian Beef.

Jay's Beef in Harwood Heights

Every Chicago resident has a favorite place to get an Italian Beef be it the local place in the neighborhood where they grew up or a place they found later in life that made them ask "What the fuck was I eating at Mr. Beef for all these years for" For me that place is Jay's Beef. The story goes that the property that Jay's original location sits on used to be owned by Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo and was opened up in 1976 under the original owner Justin Fortuna. Originally in the dry cleaning business he decided to start his own beef joint with the help of his family. Jay’s Beef was originally a small building that was torn down and rebuilt in 1994 and has been serving the residents of the area with one of Chicago's best beef's since the day they opened.

One of the questions that I often get asked is how did I come to love the Italian beef sandwich and everything it is. Aside from the obvious answers of my ethnic background and city that I was born and raised in comes the fact that my whole family loves beef. My grandpa, dad and uncles have been regular customers of Jay's since they terrorized the neighborhood and it was the first beef that made me really love beef and understand that not all beef are created equal. Jay's has been using the same family recipe that my dad and uncles ate as kids and that I enjoyed so much as a kid and thats what makes it so good. I still remember my first sandwich from Jay's when my uncle drove me up there around the age of seven to show me "what a real beef is" Despite the fact they now have multiple FAMILY owned locations they still make their own beef, gravy and hot peppers on site and still get the same bread supplied they did back in the day. There is no doubt that one of Jay's Beef's piled high like a New York deli sandwich with thin sliced seasoned beef is on my all Chicago beef first team and one of the best in the city.

beef with hot from Jay's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 4
gravy: 5
hot peppers: 4

Score: 17/20

Jay's Beef
4418 N Narragansett Ave
Harwood Heights, IL 60706
(708) 867-6733
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