In Chicago, where Beth Gross used to work, the Italian beef sandwich is one of the best-known hometown treats. “It’s in the top five of what Chicago’s known for: deep-dish pizza, then hot dogs and beef,” she said.
In the Buffalo area, nobody knows its name. Gross, chef-owner of Gertie’s (6010 Goodrich Road, Clarence Center) recently set out to change that.
Now the menu at her place offers a plate anchored by the sandwich, thinly sliced medium-rare roast beef piled onto a Luigi’s torpedo roll, then – because this is Western New York – topped with mozzarella. It’s important to get the bread right, Gross said.
Jus, a broth made from the beef drippings, is another important Italian beef element. In Chicago, you can get the whole sandwich dunked in jus, but Gertie’s drizzles jus over the meat instead, sort of a medium juicy approach, Gross said. “You want something that holds together but soft on the inside.”
That’s because, despite its hefty, shaggy, drippy appearance, the Italian beef sandwich is meant to be eaten out of hand, preferably while leaning over something that doesn’t stain easily.
Giardiniera is the other important component of the sandwich. It’s a spicy vegetable pickle, with peppers, celery and carrots in Italian seasoned oil. Gross gets hers from Chicago. “We put the giardiniera on the side, so people can control their heat,” Gross said.
The sandwich comes with a side of Gertie’s sweet vinegar slaw, and another side, like bowtie pasta salad, for $14.
“We’ve had a few people that are familiar with it but not a lot,” said Gross. “It’s selling pretty well. The orders are definitely going up. People love the sandwich.”
For more information, visit www.gertiesrestaurant.com or call 741-1311.