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.
The last few weeks Pat and I appear to be stuck on one specific food genre’. The Italian sandwich or grinder. First, South of Chicago, then Greiner, then Fresco and now the Cannoli Queen on the south side of Indy. Since Pat still resides on the south side. He noticed the place. Sometime back, but thought it was part of a chain. When he discovered that it was a mom-and-pop joint we put it on our list. And after eating there and talking with the Queen herself, I think that this is probably the most complete little Italian joint around. They make their own pasta, sauces, and all those delightful little cannolis and confections. And they even make their own bread.
On top of one of the merchandise cabinets they provided small saucers of samples of their biscotti, and their various other sweets. After trying a few pieces I could not make up my mind as to whether I wanted an Italian Beef or Meatball Grinder. They cook their seasoned beef, along with green peppers and onions for several hours. Which was very tempting. They also make their own meatballs; and who can ignore a plump and tender hand-made meat ball? All of their sandwiches come with Italian fries. These are crinkle cut fries topped with Parmesan cheese and then toasted in an oven. Locked on the horns of a tasty dilemma. I went with the meatballs. And I must say the whole sandwich was nearly flawless. The meatballs were moist and tender; a perfect foil to the bread, which had the perfect tooth. Just the right combination of soft and chew. And the sauce was first rate as well. As for the fries they were deceptively tasty. Pat nor I thought they looked like much but the taste was spot on. Especially with the addition of that excellent “red gravy”. And to gild the Lilly the owner gave us a taste of their beef. It too was excellent. Melt in your mouth tender with a wonderful jus; infused with green pepper and onion.
After lunch we just had to split a Cannoli. A chocolate dipped cannoli, at that. I think this confection sums up the nature of the culinary endeavor. It is all about both balance and contrast. And when it is done right it is a whole lot of fun to eat. The sweetness of the cream cheese filling, and the texture of the fried tube. Hey I think cannoli should be included in the list of State Fair food. After all it is fried.
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.