Dining and food culture in Chicago

The Beef Issue: An exploration of the socio-cultural anthropology of Italian Beef

Italian Beef, Mt. Greenwood, Portage Park, River West, South Lawndale No Comments »

johnniesitalian-menuBy Thomas Barbee, Laura Castellano, Tom Lynch, Michael Nagrant, Sarah Nardi and Andy Seifert

After  a weekend of ice storms, we like to remind ourselves of the reasons we love Chicago. And few things make Chicago finer than its native sandwich, the Italian Beef, an offering so ubiquitous around here that ex-pats are usually amazed to discover that it’s an “only-in-Chicago” thing. In that spirit, we offer up a bite of the city’s best beefs. Read the rest of this entry »

Roma If You Want To: Ron Sommario does it his way

Italian Beef, Portage Park 1 Comment »

On the corner of Cicero and Hutchinson in the city’s Portage Park neighborhood, the bright green awning of Roma’s Italian Beef & Sausage marks the spot where Ron Sommario staked his claim thirty-five years ago. Today, he is behind the counter cheerfully issuing commands to his team of three employees. He addresses each with a gentle, patriarchal affection, even the one who just started and still “needs a little breaking in.” After making all the necessary arrangements, he vacates his post and heads over to a line of stools facing a picture window with a view of the heavy traffic on Cicero Avenue.  “Now where are my glasses?” he asks, looking everywhere save for the counter in front of him where they sit. “Oh,” he says and picks them up with a wink, displaying a bit of that irresistible colloquial charm unique to the stalwarts of Chicago’s older neighborhoods. Read the rest of this entry »