to the Middle East, and now back again. To Chicago that is.
So today we are at Luke’s Italian Beef for another taste of Chicago. What is Italian beef? “Kind of like Chicago’s answer to the French dip or Philly cheese steak, an Italian beef sandwich is made up of thin strips of seasoned roast beef, flavorful meat drippings, and a long Italian-style roll. The sandwiches are served either with sautéed bell peppers or giardiniera, a spicy combination of pickled vegetables….
And if you’re “Looking for authentic Chicago-style sandwiches in the middle of the desert Southwest? You'll find them right here at Luke's Sandwiches. Italian Beef, rib eye steak, and the pastrami all feature quality meats and cheeses served on fresh-baked…rolls. Try ‘the Del.’” (10best.com/destinations).
If you are looking for fancy—this is not your place. Geovanny S. at yelp.com said that “The ambience is like many older ones in Chicago, a 50's style shack.” Well, I wouldn’t describe Luke’s as a shack, but it was certainly casual and just what we were looking for.
Luke’s does offer salads. As they say: “Salads. We build the salad, you pick the meat.” And meat choices include pastrami, turkey, beef, chicken, tuna, and rib eye. But the menu is largely based on sandwiches—many, along with the Italian Beef, of a Chicago origin or influence.
But we wanted Italian Beef, and Italian Beef we would have. Chuck—not usually the adventurous one of this team—went all out and ordered The Del “(n)icknamed after the founder of Luke’s - Luke del Principe. Our Italian beef on a hard French roll dipped in a jus sauce. Then we add a lean Italian sausage. One hardy meal.”
Chuck’s description of this being a sandwich “you can’t put down” had two meanings. First, it was that delicious that you couldn’t stop eating. Second, after putting it down he may not have been able to reassemble it again.
I ordered the regular Italian Beef—“Luke’s specialty. This is what Luke’s was built on. Our Italian beef is cooked fresh daily in Italian spices, then each morning we cut it fresh, lean and thin. Piled high on a hard French roll dipped in a jus sauce.”
And in true Chicago style, I added the hot peppers or giardiniara that Michael, the counter man during our visit, told me was specially made for their restaurants (there are two other Luke’s in Tucson) by a man in Phoenix. The Speedway outlet adds additional olives to the mix and one of the others adds additional vegetables. This had just the right amount of peppery spice, and I can’t imagine having an Italian Beef sandwich without it.
With our sandwiches, we shared a regular-sized order of crinkle fries. I am not usually a huge fan of crinkle fries, but these were outstanding. First, they were thinner than your standard crinkle fry, and since I love shoestring fries, these were a good compromise. And they arrived at the table fresh from the fryer—none of this sitting under a heat lamp stuff—and were steaming hot and crisp.
Before leaving, we had the chance to talk with the owner, Jason Amadori, who I think is one of Del Principe’s sons. (Jason is shown on the right in this photo along with Michael the counter man and valuable information source.)
I was going to give Luke’s 4.5 Addies but upon reflection have changed this to 5.0 Addies. The speed and gusto with which we both consumed our meals was the tipping point.
And, in case you are wondering, I didn’t ask.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.