About a year ago I was watching Guy Fieri on his Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show while he visited Panozzo’s Italian Kitchen in the South Loop and it looked so good that I really had the best of intentions to head down there, but then days and weeks passed and it became a distant memory of a triple D episode somewhere in Chicago. But then this week the segment at Panozzo’s aired again and I was reminded that I really wanted to try it out, so with more determination I made the effort to jump on the El and CTA and head down there. Even before I start getting into everything that we ate, I have to say I am so glad that I did and that it was all as good as I saw on TV
There were some tantalizing selections on offer listed up on the Special’s chalkboard. I had already got in mind that I was having something with the Porchetta in, so just needed to choose something else to split. That was going to be the Italian Braised Beef, but we can talk about that later.
The Porchetta is locally sourced a dry cured Gunthorp Farm pork belly wrapped around a fresh-herb marinated Slagel Family farm pork shoulder, tied, scored and slow roasted overnight. It was pretty much the first thing that caught my eye in the display cabinet when I walked in, but then again it was something that I was looking for. The Pork Belly was cured with toasted fennel seed, toasted black pepper seed, coriander, bay leaves, kosher salt for 2 days, the pork shoulder marinated in olive oil, garlic, sage, rosemary, and orange zest also for 2 days. It was then roasted for several hours. It all looked so simple on Triple D.
The Porchetta Crescentina sandwich is a thick slice of the Porchetta between home made fried flat bread and topped with a little bit of sweet savoury pickled fennel. The meat was great, moist and full of flavour, with a good crunch to the belly pork . The bread had a lightly charred crunch on the outside, sort of soft on the inside, light and airy. It needed the sweet pickled fennel to add some juiciness to the sandwich. If I had chosen my filling then I probably would have left the fennel out, but in all honesty it really made the sandwich work, even if the real star is the excellent Porchetta.
The Italian beef sandwich is one of those sandwiches that once you start eating it, you never want it to end, it really was that good. The filling is a red wine braised Slagel Family Farm beef. I had mozzarella cheese, and sweet peppers added (both red and green). Then to make it even better I got it dipped into the Jus. The result was that the sandwich was extra juicy. The beef itself was amazing, the peppers were so sweet and tender, the jus dipped bread also unspeakably good. I think I need another one of these sandwiches right now.
At the end we got a real treat, while talking to David behind the counter about where we were from and how we had heard about the place I mentioned that we had seen the place on Diner’s Drive ins and Dive’s. ”Well you should try one of our meatballs then!” and he disapeared into the kitchen to get one for us to try. Totally unprompted, I didn’t even mention meatballs, after all we had come in for the Porchetta. According to Panozzo’s own site. “Our Meatballs are, truly, all about the vegetables. We cook down a local veggie stew for 5 hours as a component of the mix. We take our house recipe fennel, pork sausage, fresh ground bread crumbs, currants, capers, coriander, onions, celery, garlic, chilies, eggs, tomatoes and pecorino. Our Meatballs are always Hand-Mixed, Hand-Rolled and Pan Fried (in extra-virgin Olive Oil).”
I would never have guessed that all that work went into them. But to be fair they tasted that good that you knew something special had to have happened in the kitchen. The meatball was served with a house made tomato sauce with some pickled banana peppers. The peppers were also great if a little spicy on my tongue. I didn’t come in for the meatballs, but another timeI think that I will be coming in for those meatballs.
I expect that you can guess from my enthusiatic blog entry that I liked this place.
Panozzo’s is about 10 minutes walk from the Red Line Roosevelt El Stop, and about 5 minutes from the elevated green and orange El Stop at Roosevelt, also on the number 1, 3, 4 CTA bus stops. Located at 1303 South Michigan Avenue, you can also check then out on their website at http://www.panozzos.com/ where you can also view a link to the Triple D episode in which they are featured http://www.panozzos.com/panozzos-on-ddd/