My first Cubs game of the season will definitely be hard to top as I was hosted by Buona Beef on a private Wrigleyville rooftop! Buona Beef doesn’t currently have any downtown Chicago or Northside locations and so this was my first time experiencing their Italian Beef and other delicious menu items.
I arrived at the rooftop just in time for their head chef to explain what goes into making the perfect Buona Italian Beef sandwich:
- Choice sirloin is rubbed with a spice mix that’s proprietary to each brand that produces authentic, house-made Italian Beef.
- The meat is wet roasted at high heat (350°).
- The beef cooks for about 8 hours, which naturally produces the sandwich’s famous ‘jus’ or gravy. This also causes the roast to shrink. I was told by the chef that the secret to the sandwich is in the gravy! The juices are all-natural and there is NO added beef stock!
- The cooled roast is hand-trimmed and placed into heated au jus.
- The beef is drawn from the broth, placed in chewy Italian bread and dipped into the gravy. Some aficionados prefer less gravy and spoon it on the sandwich, while others actually dunk the entire sandwich into the gravy.
I chose to eat my sandwich cheesy-style with a blend of mozzarella and provolone sandwiched in between two layers of the roasted Italian beef topped with sweet peppers and quickly dipped in the gravy. By the time I got my hands on the sandwich the cheese was perfectly melty and the chewy Italian bread just the right level of sogginess for a true juicy Italian beef sandwich.
The first Buona Beef opened in Berwyn over thirty years ago and has since expanded to over 14 different locations. Patriarch Joe Buonavolanto Sr. took a second mortgage on his home to fund the business, and even dug the foundation for the restaurant himself, with two of his five young sons in tow. At the event I had the chance to meet several of the Buonavolanto brothers who were so warm and welcoming and truly passionate about their business. I overheard one brother say that he probably eats Italian beef four times a week!
Over the years the menu has expanded to include burgers, chicken sandwiches, and even pizzas, but the Italian Beef is still the star of the show.
I highly suggest you make a trip to your nearest Bunoa Beef location and check them out. Whether you like your Italian Beef sweet, spicy, cheesy, soaked in gravy, or even “skinny” they’ll have an option for you!
Photo courtesy of the Buona Beef media kit