Tag Archives: italian

Al’s #1 Italian Beef (Chicago, IL)

You know, we all have those food items we crave, that we always look forward to being able to have again. They aren’t always fancy. I particularly crave, amongst other things, Waffle House hashbrowns, Pepe’s Pizza, and Chicago-style Hot Italian Beef sandwiches. Alas, none of these can be had around my corner of rural New Hampshire. In the case of some items, I’ve learned to cook them myself, but for some items that’s not really possible. The Hot Italian Beef, that Chicago delight of shaved beef on a crusty Italian loaf, swimming in juice and giardinera, is one of these; the local economy even lacks the ingredients for making these. Sure, we’ve got beef. But we don’t have the right sort of crusty Italian loaves. And we certainly don’t have condiments like hot giardinera available here (although I have a healthy supply in my own cupboard, sent by a friend in Illinois). I have tried my hand at it, with reasonable results, but this was mostly like methadone; it softened the withdrawal. But, mostly, I satisfy my cravings with a stop at Gold Coast Hot Dogs on one of my many, many connecting flights through Midway, since they have a reasonably serviceable sandwich. So when the Chicago Death March was in planning, a key stop for me was one of the iconic Italian Beef stands. And, helpfully, the route that Kevin came up with delivered very nicely. Stop #3 on the Death March was on Taylor Street, at Chicago’s oldest Italian Beef stand: Al’s #1 Italian Beef.

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Marzelli’s Deli (Newbury, NH)

In late March, my brother Dan was visiting from England. Like most of his visits, he had a rather lengthy list of food items that he was craving that are difficult or impossible to find in London. These include the obvious, like a good old-fashioned American cheeseburger, and quite a few things from the Italian-American playbook, including pizza, meatballs, and a good Italian-American style sub sandwich. Well, the last of these is a little difficult to find around here as well. Sure, there are more Subways than you can shake a stick at. And most any decent gas station around here will make you up a grinder… but Dan was looking for a good, solid sub on crusty Italian bread, with some good meats and cheeses. And that’s a little harder to find, but after thinking a bit on the issue, I remembered one Italian deli we’ve got in the greater area: Marzelli’s in Newbury.

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Cantore’s Pizza (West Lebanon, NH)

The last six months or so, the usually calm and stagnant Upper Valley restaurant scene has had a few changes. One of bigger segments changing is the pizza scene: since last summer, we’ve had two new pizzerias show up in town, Cantore’s Pizza in West Leb in Glen Road Plaza, and Ziggy’s Pizza in North Country Plaza further down 12A. I plan to review both of these places, but I’ll start with Cantore’s. Cantore’s opened late last summer, being run by local experienced restauranteurs John Kelley and Vinnie Cantore (by the way, if you were wondering… the owner of Cantore’s is the brother of Jim Cantore, Weather Channel meteorologist and former Upper Valley resident). And while the Upper Valley is literally chock-a-block with pizza places (most having “Village” or “Chef” in their names), Cantore’s is trying to set themselves apart by doing a New York style pizza, and trying to use a better selection of ingredients: better mozzarella, fresher toppings, etc…

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