Monday, July 9, 2012

The Full Monti By: Steve

Steve lives in Highland Park and enjoys cooking, photography, skiing, and travel. He says that because his years of cooking, he truly appreciates going out to restaurants that do a great job with good ingredients, excellent preparation and attentive service.  “From great Chicago dogs to haut cuisine, we are lucky to live in a city that provides so much diversity and quality.”

My son and I have had a recent ongoing discussion about the Philly cheesesteak sandwich. I had a cheesesteak at one of the most highly rated stands in Philadelphia, and was very unimpressed.  I posted what I thought was wrong about the sandwich construction in my blog, and made the statement that I did not think there was a good example of the "true" Philly cheesesteak sandwich to be found.  About the Philly cheesesteak sandwich itself, I was definitely wrong.  There is a commercially available Philly cheesesteak sandwich that belongs in the realm of iconic sandwiches.  It is found here in Chicago, at Monti’s in the Lincoln Square neighborhood.  It deals with every problem that I had with the sandwich that I had in Philly, and the result is spectacular.

I talked with Jennifer Monti, who with her husband Jim, own Monti’s.  I explained the tastelessness of the sandwich I had in Philadelphia.  Jennifer thought that I might have had bread right out of the package, and it would have been too soft.  They tried to duplicate the Amoroso hoagie roll here with local bakeries, but were not able to reproduce the exact taste profile that they wanted.  They import the Amoroso rolls par-baked, and finish them in their pizza oven.  The result is greatly improved over the squishy roll I had in Philadelphia, as there is a nice crust bite to the outside, with a soft crumb inside.

The meat is Black Angus Ribeye, seasoned with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic.  It has a wonderful taste on its own, not too dry, but mixes well with the choice of either a domestic provolone (with a nice bite to it), or the house cheddar sauce (made with Wisconsin cheddar cheese and water).  Mushrooms are sautéed from fresh, as are the onions. The result is a truly excellent sandwich, one that would please a resident of the City of Brotherly Love as well as the residents of the City of Big Shoulders (or anywhere else for that matter).  Jennifer was so sure of her product that she stated if I didn’t like it, the sandwich was on her.  It was a very safe bet on her part!

I will have to return to Monti’s to try their other offerings:  grinders, pizzas, Italian water ices.  But, try the Cheesesteak, it made a believer out of me.

4757 N. Talman Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625

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