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The Hottest Sandwich In The World Right Now Is The Italian Beef Thanks To Chicago's "The Bear" Series On Hulu

NY Times - Last month, Dan Michaels, an owner of Gino’s East of Chicago in Los Angeles, watched as orders for Italian beef — the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef and tangy giardiniera piled on a roll — suddenly soared to 300 a day, from 150 a day in June. “The Bear” had struck again.

The show has also spurred instant demand for the delectably sloppy Italian beef sandwiches at the center of the plot’s chaos. Search interest on Google, according to Google Trends, nearly doubled after the show was released on Hulu on June 23, and Chicago-style restaurants across the country are feeling the effects in person.

Mike Klaersch, the owner of the Pizza Man, a mom-and-pop Chicago joint outside Kansas City, Kan., noticed customers piling in for the sandwiches. The restaurant, he said, sold five to six times as many as it did in June.

Jarret Kerr, an owner of Dog Day Afternoon, a Chicago Italian beef and hot dog restaurant in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, said he had seen at least a 50 percent increase in orders of hot Italian beef sandwiches — at $15, the most expensive item on the menu — since the show debuted. The cramped shop used to sell up to a dozen a day; the staff is now slinging 30 or more a day and selling out daily

At Mr. Beef On Orleans in Chicago, where exterior scenes for “The Bear” were shot, business is booming. Joseph Zucchero, an owner who opened the shop in 1979, said he went from selling 250 to 300 Italian beefs per day pre-“Bear” to 800 daily in early July.

If you're like Mr. Zucchero and have yet to watch "The Bear" on FX/Hulu, get your shit together and make it happen.

I blogged about it a couple weeks ago

(awful blog title btw. that's on me)

Aside from being very well written, and highly entertaining, it's a great depiction of what a quick service, mom & pop restaurant is like behind the scenes. It's raw to the point they go overboard a little bit with some of the characters (Carmy's cousin is annoying as fuck) but it's honest. So it balances out. 

It's also only 30-minute episodes so watching on Hulu premium with no ads you can bang out the entire 8-episode series in a few nights. 

All that said, the writers of this show fuckin nailed it when it comes to the centerpiece and focal point of the show.

If you're going to roll with a true Chicago staple, something our beloved city should genuinely be known worldwide for, the Italian beef sandwich is that thing. 

Fuck the pizza (it's terrible. Mediocre at best). You can get a good steak anywhere nowadays. The hot dogs fuck but hot dogs don't put asses in the seats or have the allure that something like an "Italian beef" does.

I'd never even heard of Italian beef when I first moved to Chicago. I went into a small grease trap joint called AJ's up by Loyola's campus in Rogers Park one night, starving and poor. The name jumped out at me. I asked the Mexican guy behind the counter manning the grill and the register what an Italian beef was, and he looked at me like I had ten heads. His explanation made me feel like a moron so I said, "oh ok, let me get one. Please."

"Hot peppers? Sure."

When I unwrapped the tinfoil, I thought the meat was so juicy it bled through all the bread. I didn't realize they dipped the rolls on purpose. I also had no clue what all the little carrots and cauliflower pieces were all over it. 

I was wildly confused. 

But I'm the biggest bitch in the world when I order food and am terrified/too embarrassed to ever send anything back or complain so I gave it a bite. And I was blown away. 

Everything "just works" in an Italian beef. All the ingredients blend together harmoniously. If it weren't for the breaded steak sandwich from Ricobene's, it truly would be the perfect sandwich. You've got the saltiness and the sweetness from the au jus. You've got the heat from the giardiniera (which is still one of the most uniquely Chicago things going in my opinion), the soft texture of the bread, and of course the umami of the beef. 

Goldbelly, an e-commerce company that delivers specialties like lobster rolls and gumbo from restaurants around the country, has seen a 30 percent increase in sales of Italian beef sandwiches since “The Bear” premiered, a spokeswoman for the company said. (That number could soon rise with the recent addition of the Chicago staple Al’s Beef to the site.)

According to Chicagoans, a true Italian beef relies on a consistent, harmonious formula of roast beef and hot giardiniera, all atop — this is important — a Turano Baking Company French roll. Roasted peppers, for a touch of sweetness, are optional. The sandwich is then “dipped, dunked or baptized” in beef juices according to jus preference, said Henry Tibensky, a native Chicagoan and the founder and chef of Hank’s Juicy Beef, a roving Chicago hot dog and sandwich pop-up in New York City.

(nice shout out for the Turano family. Came to find out a couple years ago through family that the Turano's are originally from the same area in Calabria my family is, Cosenza, and are basically royalty over there now. Great family, great company, great bread.)

The Chicago guys did an awesome video a few weeks ago with Rone where Eddie lucked out landing the chance to take him to the absolute king of kings of Italian beef- Johnnie's in Elmwood Park.


When I say that Johnnie's needs to be a bucket list food stop for anybody that considers themselves a lover of good food I couldn't be more serious. Knowing what I know now about it, if I ever moved away from Chicago and couldn't go there regularly, it would be a must-visit every trip back. If God forbid I ever got word that it was going out of business soon, I would drop everything and fly back to have it one last time before it closed. If I were ever on death row and given a choice for my last meal, it would be in serious consideration for top 3 choices. 

That's how good this place is.



For those of you poor souls who don't have the luxury of having Johnnie's in your backyard, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. 

Get yourself a nice sturdy crockpot, and take your ass to the Barstool Store and order this J.P. Graziano Beef Kit. 

No bullshit, it has every single thing you need to cook up your own Italian beef (minus the Turano rolls). The Chicago boys even whipped up a nice instructional video to walk you through the process.

We're almost into football season and let me tell you, there are few tailgate delicacies better than some good Italian beef. It's also lights out just sitting on your couch all day. 

No bullshit though, Jim's giardiniera is amazing and he's a psycho about his spice blend. I think he did like 15 different iterations of it before he had it "just right." You won't be disappointed. (Just don't skimp on your cut of meat).


h/t Nate