The Original Italian Beef company, Buona, offers that distinctly Chicago sandwich and there are even more places to enjoy it now. Last month, Buona opened a location in Streeterville at 613 North McClurg Court. I attended opening day and the location is quite cozy and chic. Then earlier this month a new location opened at 6235 W. 95th Street in Oak Lawn. That brings the number of locations beyond 20. You'll find locations in several burbs - from Frankfort to Montgomery to St. Charles to Rolling Meadows - and a couple Chicago locations. And they're not done yet. I'm also hearing talk about a new location coming to Schererville in Northwest Indiana in the near future. That will be the closest one to me yet, so I'm doing a bit of a happy dance.
This year I also enjoyed my share of Buona beef or combo sandwiches while lounging in the upper deck at the Friendly Confines watching my beloved World Champion Cubbies (It's served at Guaranteed Rate Field, as well). And I was ecstatic this year to discover Buona products in the freezer section at Aldi, so that when I can't get to a location for a freshly made sandwich, I can make it at home or I can keep it in the freezer for an easy-to-prepare meal on a busy weeknight between cross country and chess and robotics and the teenagers' work schedules. You can also purchase meal kits at their restaurant, as well, complete with fresh bread and if you have a family gathering or work event coming up and you don't want to have to worry about cooking - they cater!
The first Buona restaurant began with a secret recipe and legacy that stems back to the beef stands of the Chicago Stockyards. Founder Joe Buonavolanto, Sr. was among a group of Italian immigrants who made the Italian beef sandwich a culinary Chicago classic. He opened his first restaurant in Berwyn in 1981. Today it's the last standing 100-percent family-owned Italian beef chain.
Although it's pretty hard to pass up an Italian Beef when you visit one of their restaurants, they also have a huge selection of other really good grub on their menu. When I attended the opening of their Beverly location last year, I tried a number of items that all exceeded my expectations - pizza, milkshakes and a salad with a nice salmon filet on top. Oh, and be sure to try their homemade chips when you go - they are a perfect little side for your sandwich. For more info, visit buona.com.