Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Breaded Steak Sandwich at Ricobene's

Four years ago, while visiting Taste of Chicago, I came across the Ricobene's booth. It was the year I was introduced to the breaded steak sandwich. I got a taste-size portion of their famous sandwich - which I didn't realize was so famous. It was my first time having a breaded steak sandwich and I guess you could say it was love at first bite. I looked for it again at the fest the following year.

Chicago Foodie Sister Carrie with Sam Ricobene - third generation owner of the establishment.

Fast forward to late 2017 and a video pops up in my Facebook feed about this sandwich and I'm intrigued and reminded about this delicious sandwich and instantly craving one. I figure it's time to enjoy another one and I'm not patient enough to wait until Taste of Chicago rolls around again. I look up the address and plan a foodie field trip day with hubby and make Ricobene's the first stop. It's on the south side near Chinatown with street parking available as well as a free lot across the street.


We got there early - I think it was around 10:30 a.m. and the place was already bustling. A row of tables were pushed together with a group of police academy recruits chowing down. Others filed in and out ordering the casual Italian specialties that are all reasonably priced. I got to spend a few minutes chatting with Sam Ricobene, grandson of the restaurant's founder. The eatery dates back to 1946 and he said that it was in 1976 that they added breaded steak sandwich to the menu. It became a huge hit and has continued drawing in diners for decades.


They've got an extensive menu of sandwiches - Italian beef, Italian sausage, beef/sausage combos, chicken breast, sloppy Joes, BBQ pork, eggplant parmesan, breaded perch, hot dogs, burgers and more. They also offer pizza in thin, pan and deep dish versions - I wish I'd had room to give some of the pizza a try because it looked amazing, but being stop #1 on our foodie field trip day, I knew I had to go easy. I'll have to save it for another day, but I suspect that once I make it in there, I'll cave and order a breaded steak. It would be too hard not to.



The breaded steak sandwich - which is available in regular size and king - has made quite a name for itself and landed itself on "best of" lists compiled by various sources, but a USA Today article on 2015 spread the word of this fabulous sandwich beyond the boundaries of the Windy City when writer Ted Berg declared it "the best sandwich in the world."


If you've been to Ricobene's, you know exactly what Berg is talking about and what I'm reiterating. This is a sandwich that is life-changing. One that you won't be able to get out of your head or your taste buds once you've had one.

And if, like me, you've enjoyed it at the Taste of Chicago, you still need to get in to the restaurant and have one. Sam Ricobene told me that the Taste of Chicago version is a little different - requiring an adapted preparation method when preparing it in such huge quantities for the huge food festival. So, if you've had it at the Taste, you still need to get a taste of the restaurant version. Ricobene's should be on the foodie bucket list of every Chicagoan. What are you waiting for? Get over there and get one - and tell them the Chicago Foodie Sisters sent you.

Ricobene's
252 W. 26th Street
Chicago
(312) 225-5555
Ricobenespizza.com


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Ballpark Pub in Bridgeport

Anyone who knows a little about me (or who doesn't know me but has peeked a little at my social media pages) likely knows that I'm a die-hard Cubs fan. But I'm also a baseball fan. I am just in love with the game. And I'm in love with Chicago baseball and Chicago fans and Chicago's baseball neighborhoods and Chicago's baseball neighborhood eateries. So, when we got an invite to check out a pub on the south side just three blocks away from Guaranteed Rate Field (it'll always be Comiskey to me!), I was happy to head there for a bite.

Ballpark Pub is a fun little neighborhood tavern where the baseball touches tug right at my little baseball-loving heartstrings. They've got seats from the ballpark. A to-scale batter's box at the entrance. Logos on the wall. A big photo of Bill Veck looking down from above. An awesome mural on the back wall with a scene depicting the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park. 

There are also other cool features to the place that I loved - 16 beers on draft (from a homemade steel-pipe draft), plenty of screens for watching all kinds of sports, 20+ USB ports along the bar for charging your phone or other devices and a bar top made from an old bowling lane.


But, all the baseball emotions aside, we were there to try the food and while sometimes a neighborhood pub can be a little disappointing in the food department, this one was not in the least. They don't have an over-the-top menu with a crazy number of items, which is good -- figure out what you do best and do it. And they do. They do have a sizable list of specials with a wide variety that are rotated on occassion. In addition to their board of specials, they are currently running wings for 40 cents each. I'm not one who really orders chicken wings (it's just a weird lazy thing for me -- seems like a lot of work for a little bit of meat), but hubby placed an order of a half-dozen wings with buffalo sauce. I do love buffalo sauce and these wings really made me want to eat chicken wings more often. That sauce was on point, the meat was tender and the bleu cheese dipping sauce was pretty awesome.


I also noticed that they had fried cheese curds on the menu - and after a few questions I was assured that they are genuine, good 'ol white cheddar Wisconsin cheese curds. How could I turn those down? It was a hefty portion just as good as you'd get at any roadside spot north of the IL border. 

We also tried some cheeseburger sliders as well as some brisket sliders. The brisket and pork are smoked in-house and the brisket was super tasty, served on toasted brioche buns. There are several things on the menu that make great shareables.

Baseball Pub also does Tuesday night bingo. It's free and you can win meals as well and have a chance at a big progressive cash jackpot. Draws a pretty good crowd. It's not your grandmother's bingo.

I chatted for a bit with Nick Bertucci, who is co-owner of the place along with his business partner and childhood buddy, Rich Rogulich. Both have serious ties to food and baseball - both are lifelong residents of Bridgeport and both of their families have been operating food stands and catering within the ball park for decades. 

Bertucci's family started doing catering at Comiskey in the 70's, a year before he was born. He said he's grown up around food and baseball - and started helping out his parents out in the family business as a young kid. 


He said some of the big sellers are the signature burger, ribs, the pot roast sandwich, meatball sub and brisket nachos. The pub is just a baby - it's been there less than 18 months, but it shows all the signs of being there for many years in the future. If you happen to be heading to a game this season, stop in for a pre-game meal or a celebratory drink (or two or three) and some bar bites following a win. They'll be adding patio seating this spring, too. Or for a quieter low-key lunch, stop in now during the off-season and take in the atmosphere without the crowd.



Ballpark Pub
514 W. Pershing Rd.
Chicago
773-675-4687
TheBallparkPub.com






Thursday, January 18, 2018

Now Find™ Apps Help Those With Special Diets Find Foods For Them

I recently received some information on Now Find™ Apps that can be useful for those who choose or need to follow a specific diet. If you are restricted to gluten-free or dairy free, opt for a vegetarian diet or lean toward organic foods, these APPS can be a big time saver and help you easily identify what you can eat - as it's more common to be looking at a sea of options that you can't have.

I downloaded one of the family of APPS and found it easy to use. You can easily look up products or all products by a certain brand to see which fall into your "can have" category. You can also compile shopping lists to make you trips to the grocery store easier.

Check out Now Find Organic & Non-GMO, Now Find Gluten Free, Now Find Dairy Free, Now Find Gluten Free & Now Find Vegetarian, which are available on the App Store or Google Play, offering detailed information and ingredients for over 30,000+ products at the touch of your fingertips. You can also further refine searches with additional filters if you're looking for something that's Sugar Free or Vegan or free of artificial flavors - with 16 additional filter options.

You can download the apps here: http://nowfindfoods.com


Chicago's First Culver's Opens Next Week


Culver's has been serving their signature ButterBurgers in the Chicago suburbs for a while, but on Tuesday Chicago will get its very first Culver's location. It will open in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood, according to franchise owner Baron Waller. Draper and Kramer, Incorporated, is the developer of the Lake Meadows Market retail center at 35th Street and King Drive, where the new 4,300-square-foot restaurant is located.

“We’re thrilled to bring custom, made-to-order, high-quality meals and desserts to Chicago, all served with a friendly smile,” said Waller, who owns and operates Culver’s restaurants in Joliet, New Lenox and Lockport. “We’re equally as excited to become a supportive member within the Bronzeville community, and proud to have added more than 65 jobs to the local workforce. Culver’s was founded on the idea of providing excellent service and high-quality food made with the best ingredients. The outstanding people who serve our guests behind the counter have helped us earn our reputation, and we’re excited to have team members from the surrounding community as part of our team."

Using 100% fresh, never frozen, U.S. beef made cooked-to-order on a buttered and toasted bun has made them stand out from other fast casual food chains along with their high-quality frozen custard that is made in Wisconsin. This foodie also is a huge fan of their Wisconsin fried cheese curds and their own root beer brand.

I first discovered Culver's on visits to our neighbor to the north. Whenever we'd head into Wisconsin, a stop at Culver's was mandatory. They've since opened locations in Chicagoland and now operate almost 650 stores in 24 states.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Brat Stop


We made a recent trip up to Wisconsin to go tubing at Wilmot Mountain, a winter resort with skiing, skateboarding and tubing. We spent the day there tubing and decided to stop at The Brat Stop for a bite before heading home.

I've been going to the Brat Stop since I was a kid. It was always the go-to spot for dinner and to pick up some cheese when we went over the border. On this visit the kids split a pizza with an order of mozzarella sticks and hubby and one of the boys shared a big European platter with three different flavors of sausage, sauerkraut, potatoes and red cabbage. I was content with my fried cheese curds, which I always have to order when we stop there.

The Brat Stop has a large varied menu with sandwiches, sausages, salads, ribs, tacos and more. They're also known for the live entertainment and have a store stocked with cheese, sausages, t-shirts, local beer and more.

THE BRAT STOP
12304 75th St 
Kenosha, WI
(262) 857-2011
BratStop.com


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Moore's Marinade & Sauces

Chicago Foodie Sisters recently received a bottle of Moore's Marinades & Sauces to try out. There are nine different varieties and we tried out the Original Buffalo Wing Sauce. Since I had the "marinade" part of it stuck in my head, I figured I'd use it to marinate some chicken. It wasn't until after they were in the oven that I noticed it was wing "sauce" rather than marinade that was meant for tossing at the end. But it was an accident that was a success.

My hubby and boys prefer drums over wings, so I let some drums marinate in about 2/3 of the bottle for the afternoon in the refrigerator. 

After about 6 or 7 hours, I placed them in a baking dish, poured over the remaining sauce that it had been marinating in and baked for about 40 minutes. Spooned the sauce over the top and served it with a little extra sauce for dipping along with some ranch. 

I am a bit of a wimp with hot stuff, so I did a few bites and it's all I could handle, but I must say it had  great flavor even though it was too hot for my delicate taste buds. :) It was one of those times my mouth was on fire, but I didn't want to stop. It wasn't all fire and no taste, it was a perfect combo of heat and flavor.

The guys in my house love hot stuff and one bite in my husband was loving it and going on and on about how good it was. I've already got plans for some chicken dip using what's left in the bottle.

You'll find Moore's in a number of grocery stores and department stores in the area, including Walmart, Meijer and Target. Click here for a complete list of retailers. You'll also find a great variety of recipes at mooresmarinade.com. 


***Chicago Foodie Sisters received a product sample for the purpose of a review. We were not compensated for this post. All opinions are our own.

Carraba's Valentine Sharing Meal

Last year I came across a great deal at Carraba's for Valentine's Day and I never posted about in on the blog, so thought I'd share now. I'm not sure if they're repeating a similar deal this year, but if so, it was a really nice meal and at a good price. It was $45 for a shared appetizer, two entrees and a shared dessert. So keep your eyes open for a special menu this year. I'd go back and do it again for sure.

Carraba's Italian Grill is a national chain. In the Chicago area you can find locations in Woodbridge and in Schererville, IN.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dragon Bowl a Favorite Spot for Asian Cuisine

Living in the south burbs, I'm just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Indiana border. I do a lot of my shopping there. My kids have been in activities in Northwest Indiana. Until the gas prices went up there, I would usually drive over the border to fill up. Anyway, I spend a good deal of time in the state of Indiana. And one of my favorite spots for a bite to eat is Dragon Bowl. My parents lived down the street from it for over a decade, so I drove past it constantly. One of my boys is a big fan of Asian food as well and sometimes he and I zip in there for a quick lunch...like the meal below.

Dragon Bowl
8231 Hohman Avenue
Munster, IN
(219) 513-0088


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Skyline Chili

I had heard of Cincinnati-style chili before, but I didn't realize what a big deal chili is in that city until I visited last year with two of my boys. I seemed to be seeing Skyline Chili everywhere we went and so I didn't want to head back home without trying it. As we were heading out of town I put enough change in the meter for 10 minutes, ran inside a location near our hotel ordered a chili dog, took a picture of it and then packed it to go and ate it in the car.  It was quite tasty especially with that mound of cheddar cheese. I love the sweetness to Cincinnati-style chili and it was a perfect topper for the hot dog.



I learned that in Cincinnati, they do chili a number of "ways".
Two-way chili is spaghetti topped with chili.
Three-way is spaghetti, chili, cheese.
Four-way is spaghetti, chili, cheese, onion.
Five-way is spaghetti, chili, cheese, onion and beans.

Since we're talking about skylines, here's a shot of the Cincinnati skyline from across the border in Kentucky.



They have a speedy method of taking orders and delivering them, which I completely messed up. :) 



There's plenty of merchandise and product that you can buy to commemorate your trip or help you duplicate their recipe at home. There are several locations in Ohio and Kentucky. Go to skylinechili.com for more info.

Dining at Skyline Chili is one of those things you have to check off the list if you're in the Cincinnati area.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Hofbrauhaus Newport

While on a trip to Cincinnati with two of my boys last year, we decided to venture across the bridge into Kentucky to have dinner of Hofbrauhaus. They had just been to Hofbrauhaus Chicago in Rosemont a few weeks earlier and they've become fans of German food, especially Bavarian pretzels, so we were excited to be trying out a new location.

The Newport location is definitely smaller scale that what we have in the Chicago area, but it's no less charming. The food was just as good and the band played all the fun German beer tunes that you'd hear back home. And the beer...oh, there's just nothing like a Hofbrau Hefeweizen on draft and there aren't a lot of places to find that.

I got my favorite - a simple weiner schnitzel platter. It was delicious and it was so nice to enjoy it with my boys and a live band and lots of Bavarian decor. I'd suggest you visit to if you are headed that way! Prost!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Baby Bulls in Pontiac, IL



Ever since my dad relocated to central Illinois early last year, we've tried to get together at least once a month for lunch. We've visited a few different places that fall around the half-way point and one was Baby Bulls Family Restaurant in Pontiac. 



Dad's a big fan of soup and they always have a good selection there. I love their chicken noodle soup. On one of our visits I saw that they had a horseshoe on the menu. I've pretty much never seen those on a menu outside of the Springfield area, so I had to get one. If you're not familiar - it involves Texas toast on the bottom with a hamburger patty (or other meat) then has French fries on top and it's all covered with a creamy cheese sauce. I love them and have made them at home a few times after my cousin, who lives on a farm just outside Springfield, made them for me. I also have to have one any time I am in Springfield. They are the best. Baby Bull's version was pretty good! And it's always nice when I get to see dad and share a meal with him. My middle son also came along for the ride, too.



Baby Bulls Family Restaurant
1025 W. Reynolds
Pontiac, IL
(815) 844-5757
babybullsfamilyrestaurant.com