The Original Italian Beef, Buona Beef, opened its 17th location - and its first within the Chicago city limits on March 22 at 10633 S. Western Ave. in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood. The family-owned chain also celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.
The company started with a secret family recipe of the Buonavolanto family in 1981 and you can still enjoy that great taste today. The family plans to expand further with fie new restaurants planned over the next five years, extending further into the city and surrounding suburbs.
I popped in with my friend Lilly for the ribbon cutting, which was actually a beef sandwich cutting, and tried out a few menu items.
The first thing I sampled was the beef - that was mandatory. We ordered the sandwich with barbecue sauce and sweet peppers and a side of delicious parmesan dusted home made potato chips. Other options for sides include fries, antipasto salad, fruit salad, a house salad, caesar salad and potato salad.
Besides the traditional Italian beef, there's an extensive sandwich menu. Char-grilled chicken avocado jack, tuna genovese, pepper and egg (Friday only), grilled salmon, caprese, turkey club panini, meatball marinara and pretzel bacon burger are just some of the sandwiches to choose from. I'm sure they're all great, but if you've never before been to Buona Beef before, your initial visit should really involve the Italian beef. It's super tender and full of flavor on the most perfect fresh bread you could imagine - that classic crunchy/crusty texture on the outside and soft on the inside.
Wanting to try out something else unique on the menu, I honed in on the hand-rolled pizzas. With some intriguing specialty selections, I decided to give the beef & giardiniera a try. For a place that isn't really a pizzeria, this could compete with some of the best pizza joints in the city. It was prepared very quickly and with a hearty, crunchy crust that was in-between a thin and crispy crust and maybe half way to a thick-style of crust. The toppings were generous and it was an amazing combination for a pizza topper with Buona's famous Italian beef, sweet peppers and hot giardiniera. I would totally recommend it. P.S. pizzas are $6 all day on Thursday.
I had a hard time resisting the listing of milkshakes that was staring at me from our table top. Hand-mixed shake flavors are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and Ghirardelli Brownie. I decided to try the Ghirardelli Brownie. Super yummy and creamy...blows away those artificial, icky ones from McDonald's. By the way, if you are there between 2 and 4 p.m. on weekdays, you can get in on Milkshake Happy Hour and pick one up for just $1.99.
I love that you can get everything you need to make Buona beef at home right there in a refrigerated case. A "fast 5 beef" makes five 5-inch sandwiches - beef, gravy, bread and sweet or hot giardiniera - for $19.95. Family size sides of salads can also be purchased to go. Beef is also available by the pound with a quart of gravy and if you have a bigger crowd to feed, they have a large catering menu with not just beef, but a variety of hot entrees and pasta pans.
One other item I have to mention is the salads. After I saw a lady at a nearby table enjoying lovely and sizable salad, I opted to get one to taste and then take home for a quick dinner as I knew it would be a busy night ahead and that I would probably not have time to cook or make a stop. I ordered the Tuscan Harvest - full of all the things I love - arugula, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, gorgonzola with Granny Smith apple over romaine lettuce and served with fat-free raspberry dressing. You can order a meat or fish to go along with it. I chose to add grilled salmon and got a large filet to top my greens. It was pretty impressive, too - comparable to what you'd get as an entree in a restaurant and cooked perfectly. A little bread stick was added on that was nicely seasoned. As hard as it would be to pass up the beef, I would absolutely go here just for this salad. It was that good.
Be sure to swing by and check out the new Beverly location or one of their other 16 spots in suburbs or around the city - from Montgomery to Rosemont, St. Charles to Orland Park. Two more new restaurants are slated for this summer in Algonquin and Frankfort.
106333 S. Western Ave.
** I did receive a complimentary meal for purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.