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Chowdown Showdown: In Search of Oswego's Best Italian Beef

Who's got the top beef?

What a delicious week I’ve just completed. Nothing goes with Sunday football quite like an Italian beef sandwich. So that you may make an informed decision about which Italian beef to go with your football viewing, I’ve checked out three local haunts to find Oswego’s best. 

If you aren’t familiar, Italian beefs come in two varieties – wet and dry. Portillo’s Italian beef comes served on a limp kind of bread that just screams “WET ME PLEASE!” I found it unfortunate, then, that this sandwich wasn’t served wet, as much as it was served moistened. 

Aside from the lack of commitment to a wet or a dry sandwich, Portillo’s beef is very tasty. You really get a taste of the meat, as it is not terribly spiced up. The meat was thinly sliced and as tender as Jay Cutler on a Monday morning.

Portillo’s Good Portillo’s has a tender, delicious meat.

Portillo’s Bad They just didn’t seem to know whether they wanted to serve a wet or a dry beef. I don’t mind either way, but to get halfway through a dry sandwich, then find all the juice huddled in the corner? Not my preference.  

First off, all of the venues I visited heard me simply request “Italian beef, however It comes, no extras.” However, rote muscle memory must have kicked in in the kitchen, as my Italian beef here came with mozzarella. It was a great addition, but usually will cost you extra.  

This sandwich is served dry on a hearty French roll. The neat thing about it is the small cup of au jus served with the sandwich. This way, I was able to dial in the perfect amount of wetness. The beef here wasn’t the most tender or tasty, but it’s a good sandwich.   

Giordano’s Good The sandwich is served with its own cup of au jus. The sandwich and fries are about the perfect portion for lunch. Not ridiculously filling, yet it left me completely satisfied. 

Giordano’s Bad Not the greatest meat, which was not properly seasoned.

I was surprised to walk in to this restaurant and see the changes. The place just looks so much nicer than I remembered. I remember getting sopping wet beefs from this place in the past, and wasn’t sure what I’d be getting now that it’s all new. 

What I got was an unpretentious and straight-forward Italian beef. It was wet but not sopping, and had that classic Italian beef taste. Good tender meat, and a bun that held the juice without a huge mess.

Mr. Beef and Gyros Good The taste is what I’d say was the defining feature. 

Mr. Beef and Gyros Bad Thin, tiny napkins no help in the battle against the beef.

And the winner is Mr. Beef and Gyros. You just can’t find better beef. 

Tina October 09, 2011 at 03:45 AM
I have never had a dry beef from Portillo's. Everything on their menu, including the beef, is phenomenal! Their fries are even good cold! How you can say any other place is better is beyond me.
Rick Jacobsen October 10, 2011 at 01:40 AM
My Dad buys Mr. Beef by the pound for family functions because its so good. I do not think that Buona Beef or Rosatis should of been left out of the competition, but I can totally understand why you didnt for your healths sake.
Steven Jack (Editor) October 10, 2011 at 02:45 AM
Rick, I did not know Rosati's had a beef! How is it?
Rick Jacobsen October 10, 2011 at 03:05 AM
I think they are awsome. I order what they call on the menu "The Cheef" The Cheef® Our Delicious Italian Beef on Fresh French Bread, Baked with Melted Mozzarella Cheese I highly recommend it

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