I was in the neighborhood and thought it would be a good opportunity to try the last (as far as I know) untried Chicago Pizza joint, Nancy’s, in Alhambra.
Alas, it is closed for remodeling. But what’s this right next door? Al’s Italian Beef!!
From my extensive bitching re: chicago pizza and lack of a decent dog out here, you know I grew up in Chicago and have some definite opinions on things. I like to think they are minimum standards of acceptability. i.e. one does not call a dog a ‘chicago dog’ unless it is an all beef frankfurter made by the Vienna Sausage Co, Chicago, IL. It’s served on an S. Rosen poppy seed bun. It is simmered in water. Grilled hotdogs are properly labeled as ‘char dogs’. You know, RULES. We’re not animals, here. This is not 'nam!
Italian Beef is thin sliced, soaked in seasoned au jus, and served on a soft but CHEWY italian roll that will hold up to the drippings. It can be wet or dipped. It probably has cheese (provolone), and may or may not have sweet or hot peppers.
Al’s, alas, is all italian beef SHAPED and then chained, comodified, and blandified to meet national distibution methods. The meat is mush, the ‘gravy’ tastes like burnt drippings mixed with a mccormick ‘italian-style’ spice pack, and the bread is some generic italian style roll with no more tooth to the crust than your average ralph’s loaf. The only thing roughly correct was the orange plastic cheddar cheese-like-food-substance drizzled over my fries, which had more taste than anything in the sandwich.
Skip this. If you’re already down to alhambra, just drive the rest of the way to San Diego and go to Lefty’s. Get the the special, served on garlic bread. Way, way better. And there’s beer and pizza.
As I exited, I looked across the street at several totally unfamiliar noodle houses, and guessed that would have had much better food for the same amount of money at any one of them.
Pity. A good sandwich is a beautiful thing. It is not available at Al’s.