South of Chicago is probably best known for their Italian Beef sandwiches, and rightfully so. They probably have the best in the city. They also have pizza and during weekend lunch they have a buffet, featuring one of their entrees in addition to the pizza. On Tuesday it is Italian sausage.
This is a small joint so the buffet doesn’t take up much space. They offer a modest salad bar as well.
For the hot food they have various deep dish pizzas and one large thin crust cheese pizza.
For me taking pictures of a buffet is problematic. The sneeze guard gives off a glare so I can’t stand in front and take a shot so I have to stand at the end. With this set up the space is limited so this is the best I could get.
There are more elaborate buffets in town but this modest affair is more than adequate to sate your appetite. Plus it is only 10 bucks each. Drink included. I really enjoyed their food. The toppings on the pizza were abundant and the sauce was rich with nice body. Cautionary note it is heavy with tomato paste; which I like; but you can almost OD on it. The sausage was very good but I am with Pat on the beef. For that you have to hit the joint on Monday. Regardless of the day of the week this place is quite legit. Here is the schedule of the entrees with the buffet.
Last week Pat left on a trip west so I was on my own. I got busy so I wasn’t able to go anywhere. As it turned out Pat’s trip was interrupted and he wanted to have lunch. We arranged to meet at a place that doesn’t open until noon. I had a earlier commitment so we planned on meeting at 1:30. Alas the joint wasn’t even open. It was supposed to be; it just wasn’t. I decided on J.J’s. I had eaten there before and found the food to be uninspired but good.
The last couple of years Indianapolis has seen several Fish and Chicken fry joints open. Most are national chains. The leader of these chain stores appears to be Jordan’s. J.J’s has a very similar menu. It is a very small place. It is primarily a take away place, they can only seat 4 people.
They offer several lunch specials for $5.99. All come with fries and a drink. That was my first exposure to J.J’s. I was in the area and starving so I stopped and ordered his wing and catfish combo. I received 3 medium size chicken wings with a filet, fries and a drink. $5.99.
I think Pat was dubious of my pick. They sell Italian Beef sandwiches; and I know Pat likes those.
Sometimes I am a sucker for fried fish; especially Ocean Perch. So I got the Perch and fries special.
I really enjoyed it. The fish was nicely done. Too many places think that fish has to be fried hard to be done. They do a very good job with their fish. Both flaky and tender. This place isn’t too far from me so I can see myself getting some carry out dinners here. The prices are more than reasonable.
Also don’t worry about the area. I am sure some folks still see it as the old Dodge City, but remember that Goose the Market is a few blocks South on Delaware. This area is in the midst of “gentrification”. For better or worse the hood is changing.
This is a big restaurant with a big menu. It is very similar to other joints around Indy. Breakfast served all day, big portions, home-made soups and a bunch of pies and cakes. Usually when we hit places like this we invariably opt for breakfast. Today was an exception. We both decided on lunch dishes. Pat ordered an Italian beef sandwich with a side of coleslaw, for $8.50.
Pat always says that he provides the “esoterica” for the Blog and I am supposed to handle the technical. Well he did today for sure. He just didn’t mention what he ate.
He seemed to enjoy it. As a general rule he isn’t too shy about voicing his displeasure.
As for me I had a hankering for a melt. I enjoy the substantial bite you get from a patty enclosed in 2 pieces of toast. They offer 8 different melts and I decided on a Patty Melt. That is a hamburger patty on rye bread toast with grilled onions and cheese. The one they offer was a very good one. They use a coarse ground beef which made it a superior sandwich. Also it was on special for $6.99, and it came with fries and choice of soup or salad. They offered 3 different soups today and I decided on beef and cabbage. They brought out my soup and Pat’s slaw first with rolls and butter.
The presentation of my soup may have been sloppy but the taste was fantastic. Savory and beefy. I would definitely order it again.
The sandwich was good but I didn’t finish it because of the big display case of pies and cakes. Pat and I decided to get dessert. Pat got a eclair for $2.75.
I tried a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie.
So we had a very good lunch for a reasonable price. It is a place that is worth checking out for any meal. A bunch of dishes to choose from and easy on the wallet.
People toss around the phrase “hidden jewel” probably too often. This little place may well be just that. The make all of their own crust and bread as well as cheesecakes and gelato. This time around we didn’t have room for desert but there is always another time.
We noticed this place some time back when we went to “Some Guys Pizza”; which is about one block away.Its proximatey to “Some Guys” may be the reason it isn’t that well know. It has been around since 1999 and Pat and I have never heard of it. It isn’t a “sexy” joint with a wood or coal-fired oven. It doesn’t offer duck confit or organic kale toppings. It is just a little Pizza joint that offers a good pie at a good price.
Naturally when you go to a Pizza place you need to overload on carbs so we ordered some garlic bread for $5.00. It comes with your choice of 2 sauces. We opted for red sauce and garlic & butter.
The bread had a good flavor and a nice chew to it. The red sauce was very good with a touch of sweet. The fingers don’t come with it.
Pat’s critique of the crust was correct. I don’t think olive oil before hand would have necessarily fixed the issue. However a brushing with some would have given it a sheen and an extra luscious mouth feel. My personal pie was the same way. I,however like the slight char. As long as the crust stays soft. This crust was soft and stayed soft sitting in Pat’s car and on my kitchen counter for about 5 hours,in a go box.
My pie was a two topping one. Black olives and anchovy. I really like that combo. Both pies were under 8 bucks. A single $7.20 and a double for $7.90. The crusts we got are called their original thin crust. They also have a really thin crust if that is your taste; as well as a deep dish.
I am with Pat about the calzone. I am going to get one, maybe to go. That way I can try some cheese cake and gelato.
Iozzo’s is a place with history. The Great Grandfather, Fred, was the patriarch that started the family business in Indianapolis in the 1920’s. By 1925 he had 2 dozen grocery stores throughout Central Indianapolis. The gem of the empire was an Italian restaurant on South Illinois. It featured a band stand, 2 kitchens,3 bars and seating for 850. A tragedy in 1941 led to a quick and final demise of the restaurant. The family kept their recipes and traditions intact for over 60 years before they opened Iozzo’s Garden of Italy in 2009.
Since it was such a gorgeous day we sat in the garden. A small courtyard paved with cobble stones.
Along the side were niches that framed some dramatic flame colored blossoms and at the end was a tall lamp-post with lead glass lamps.
How ever as charming and mellow as the setting was the food was the center of our attention. Also they had half priced wine this day. Pasta, wine and beautiful weather all in a stone and brick courtyard. That just seemed to call to us.
I decided that I needed a glass of Argentine Malbec to start.
The wine inspired me to have a plate of spaghetti with Bolognese sauce and a salad. The basic pasta with the Family sauce or Marinara is $9. A change to Bolognese is an extra buck and the addition of meatballs is $4. So my pasta and salad was $14. I think it was definitely well worth it.
Now this was a swell little salad. A bowl of Spring mix,which I really like, one slice of Roma tomato and a cucumber slice. All dressed with a nice Basalmic dressing. Nothing fancy. A simple salad designed to start your appetite.
My plate of pasta was nicely presented and expertly prepared. A good bite for the noodle and a good sauce made for an excellent lunch, by itself. Add in the meatballs and you get an outstanding meal. They use veal,sausage and beef in making their meatballs. Which,in my estimation is the best combination for a meatball.
I was very much impressed with this little joint. From the fresh cracked pepper for the salad to the fresh grated cheese for the pasta. Everyone was on point for the service. Also they were short-handed and everyone stepped up and took care of business. That is something I really appreciate. Also, as an aside our server;Elizabeth is one of the grand daughters of Fred. I am not sure how many greats should be injected but she is of the Family Iozzo. A part of the chain. Which I also think is cool.
Well South of Chicago, take notice there is a Hoosier right here in Naptown that cooks a pretty mean hunk of beef. The Fresco Italian Sandwich Shoppe actually has 2 locations. One in the Marsh Grocery at 320 N. New Jersey and the other at 310 W. Michigan. On the canal. Since it was raining we opted for the New Jersey location. The joint has only been opened about three years. It is run by 2 brothers using their Dad’s recipes. And these recipes are golden. Their signature Italian beef is easily as tasty as South of Chicago’s. Fresco might have a slight edge in that they offer their sandwiches as a 4 inch half or an 8 inch whole.
We started off splitting a small Caprese Salad. He uses Roma tomatoes from a local Farmers Market, uses a local Mozzarella cheese and grows his own Basil. So needless to say the salad was fresh and delicious.
I was torn between the beef and the meatball. The owner suggested I get the beef and he would give us a sample of meatball to try. So how could I not accept such a generous offer. Again all I can say is the beef is easily as tasty as South of Chicago. On that Pat and I were in agreement. He “discovered” this place when he was shopping and had already tried a half of a beef sandwich. I might suggest you get yours dipped. The Gonnella bun soaks up all the tasty jus and still keeps its shape. A lesser roll would dissolve. As for the meat ball and accompanying red sauce it too was excellent, and on the same level as the beef.
So I can’t think of anymore to add. Except this. If you like Good Italian Beef now you have a second place to score. In addition if Caprese or meatballs are your thing then this has to be at the top of your list.
Meet Matt, bartender/ server at Union Jacks in Broad Ripple. Also may I introduce the bar at Union Jacks; a well-known and established tavern on Broad Ripple Avenue. It is styled after a British pub. Complete with dark wood and big pints and mugs of beer. One of the great things about this place is the “open-air” seating in the bar dining room. Along the outside wall they have seating at a bar with a mini garage door and windows. On nice days the door can be opened and it is like sitting outside on the sidewalk. Only better. You don’t need to worry about rain or pesky birds. It also gives you a chance to chat with passers-by. Who will either smile and talk back or hurry off; scared by two old louts in a bar. Most people were sociable and we did have a fun time.
What is interesting about this joint is although it is an English pub when it comes to food they are really noted for their Italian beef sandwiches and deep dish pizza. Patrick lived in Chicago several years after college so he has a “thing” for Italian beef. And as I think you can see it brought the artiste’ out in him.
I was craving pizza, especially when I discovered they had a 7 inch personal, deep dish with two toppings for $7.50. Admittedly, I’m a pizza junkie and I’ve tried deep dish in a lot of different places in this country. I must say they have one of the best I’ve tried. A nice rich sauce thick chunks of sausage and tender yet flaky crust. For some reason some people think deep dish means thick crust. They end up with something closer to a hollowed out bread bowl with stuff in it than a pie.
While we were eating our Italian food. We were drinking a Scottish ale Floyd’s Cutter. That is, the Floyd Cutter that Pat referenced in his review. This was the first time I have tried it. It was excellent.
While we were finishing lunch a young couple came in. Since we were, for the most part, hogging the best seats in the house we moved down to give them room to join us. It seems the gentleman was from England and his wife was American. And he had just been naturalized as an American citizen. So naturally we had to have a pint to celebrate such a momentous occasion. As I said we had a great time.
Sitting in an English style pub. Eating Italian food and drinking Scottish ale. In Indianapolis Indiana. What do you say to that Knicks?
I’m sure most foodies in Indy have heard of South of Chicago in Fountain Square. That’s the place that serves Chicago style pizza and Italian beef sandwiches;sandwiches so authentic you can smell the lake with every bite. Well I don’t know about the lake part but ,yes Ma, the beef IS as good as everyone says it is. Pat has been there numerous times,but I had to wait until I had bone fide functional teeth before I could give it a try. Naturally we both had beef sandwiches with cheese. I took mine with hot peppers Pat without. The sandwich is huge. It probably weighs close to 2 pounds. It is most definitely not a hand-held sandwich. At least not until you eat some of the meat out first. The au jus is also the real thing,juice from the roasting meat;not just some beef base and water. That leads us to the proper way to order. You can get it wet; that’s when the bun is lightly wetted with the jus or dipped; the whole thing is submerged in the au jus. I think there is a third option;but I can’t remember what it is. Nor can I recall what else they serve beside the beef or a beef and sausage combo. Oh and pizza. What sort of Chicago style joint would it be without pizza. The pizza might be great but on this day cow was king. A big Gonnella hoagie roll stuffed with tender,slow roasted beef just dripping with beefy goodness. And how much does such a tasty treat cost;you ask. Why 8 bucks. That’s right eight dollars. And it comes with a pack of chips,and it is big enough for two cheap people to share. It is times like this that makes you proud to be an America.
We had planned on hitting a place in the “inner city” but we had to make a run to Gander Mountain in Greenwood first.And what do you think was right across the street?Well the Fireside Brewhouse that’s what.And I cannot imagine two men passing up any place that calls itself a brew house;even if it really doesn’t make its own beer.The place is huge and really GOOD looking;you might even call it beautiful.I took a few more structure shots than normal;since I forgot, again,to take any pictures of our food until the plates were in such disarray it would be a waste of time to try to salvage a shot.
But you should be aware that they practice Down Town Pricing;some one has to pay for the pretty.They offer over 100 beers;a dozen or so are on draft.I had a couple of Flat 12 Half Cycles at $6 each and Pat had a Hacker-Pschorr Weisse for 6 bucks;and it wasn’t even a big bottle.Like I said downtown prices.Their menu is standard Tavern fare,with sandwiches in the 9-10 dollar range.They offer a variety of Angus Burgers combos.They have one called The Dude.It’s a fully cooked burger topped with Velveeta cheese;placed on a bun and the whole damn thing is beer battered and deep fried.Naturally it comes with fries;as do all their sandwiches.Normally I like my burgers naked;no garden,no mayo, maybe cheese.However on this occasion I ordered their Tijuana something or other.A southwest seasoned patty topped with fried green chiles,onions,white cheese,guacamole and “chipotle mayo”.I added lettuce and tomato( a man needs some veggies )so the end result was quite a mouthful.The overall taste was quite good.The slight spiciness of the seasoning and the mild heat of the lightly breaded poblanos brought a welcome crunch to blend with the creaminess of the guacamole.The only negative is they don’t toast the buns,so near the end the mayo and the guac.made the sandwich a little mushy.
Pat ordered an Italian Beef sandwich.A decent portion of roast beef on a hoagie roll with red sauce,pickled veggies and provolone cheese.Per the bartender’s suggestion he got the sauce and veggies on the side along with a side of au jus.It came out open face so he ate it with a knife and fork.When I asked him how it was, he said the quantity was “street level”.Meaning he didn’t get enough meat.However when he attacked the other half he commented that the meat wasn’t “evenly divided”;so he was happy again.I thought he was enjoying the food because I thought I caught a glimpse of sparks coming from his knife and fork;but maybe it was just a trick of the lighting.One thing we both agreed on was the fries had a great house seasoning.
So; in summation if you live or work around here it’s a nice place to go for a bite;they even offer a kid’s menu.If you desire a beer after work before you head home to the Mr. or Mrs.they offer daily specials.Thursdays special was $2.75 domestic drafts,but since all I am allowed to drink at home is domestic light beers on Thursday I require a real beer.