Italian Beef Sandwiches in Chicago

One item I was looking forward to trying in Chicago was the Italian Beef Sandwich. The only thing that turns me off about the Italian Beef sandwich is the “dip”. Dipping the bread into the beefy juices probably does give it a ton of flavor, but I can’t imagine that I would enjoy the bread getting soggy like that. That was a “nah-uhhhhh” for me. Luckily Jake and T were still willing to try it without the extra dip. They are nice about letting me have my way. Muhahahah.

We ended up trying TWO different spots for Italian Beef sandwiches. Let’s review them!

Ferrara Bakery

Ferrara Bakery was our first stop for Italian Beef. Ferrara Bakery is located near Little Italy in Chicago. The family run bakery has been open since 1908! This place is mostly known for it’s desserts (and cannoli’s) but I noticed they also had sandwiches as well. It was near our Airbnb so it was a good choice for us to stop by before we headed out into the city for the rest of the day. 

Ferrara Bakery had a TON of different cookies available that were sold by the pound. 

More cookies…

And oh my goodness, even more cookies!

They also had cakes, cupcakes, cheesecake and more.

Really just an unrelenting amount of dessert! I felt like I was in dessert bakery heaven. 

They’ve got plenty of things to choose from that are not dessert!

They also had a refrigerated case that had things like soup, lasagna, cakes, marinara and meat sauces, etc. All kinds of goodies to help you create a tasty meal at home. 

Jake picked out the Lemon Tart to try. I love that the lemon filling was swirled into the tart crust. The lemon filling was very good – creamy, quite lemony, and a tiny bit on the tart side without making you pucker up your lips. A good choice!

T eyeballed in on the Ricotta Cheesecake and he had to have it. I remember it being lighter than a New York style cheesecake, which can feel heavy and rich. I don’t remember much else about it though, to be honest! I think I only had a tiny bite. 

I picked out some cookies for us to take on the road that day. These are mostly butter cookie based, besides the mini chocolate chip cookies on the upper right. My favorites were the chocolate topped cookies and the one with a little raspberry jam in the middle. 

Since Ferrara Bakery was known for their cannolis, I had to get one! The creamy ricotta filling was delicious with little bits of mini chocolate chips in the mix. Really good! 

Since I was eating with two boys, we needed to have two sandwiches. One of them was a Chicken Parmesan sandwich. My mind was thinking the chicken would be breaded, but it wasn’t. But it was covered in cheese and tons of marinara sauce. Not the prettiest sandwich, but it was decent enough. The chicken was juicy but the bread got a bit soggy for me. 

And finally… the Italian Beef Sandwich! I actually went with the combo which has Italian Beef AND Italian Sausage all in one sandwich! The beef and sausage are both made in house at the bakery – like, duhhhh, of course they would make it in house as well! 

The Italian Beef was so tender and SO flavorful! The meat is sliced thin and piled high onto the crusty bread. There was a lot of flavors going on in just the Italian beef – it tasted like it had been swimming in a juicy herb bath to be so rich and flavorful. The meat was very tender. The sausage was also really good! I loved the combination of herbs and spices that came in the sausage. This was a killer sandwich and the three of us loved it! I wish we had just gotten two of these and skipped the chicken parm, to be honest. 

Ferrara Bakery
2210 W Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60612

Nottoli & Son Sausage Shop

Our second stop for Italian Beef sandwiches was on our last day in Chicago. Nottoli & Son is further out, away from the city, and it was closer to the airport so we hit this up as our last food stop before heading back home. I saw a few videos online about Nottoli & Son and decided we should stop by and check out their Italian Beef (and sausages). 

They had a number of items available to choose from! 

Gosh, look at all of these sausages. I wish this was in San Diego so I could have tried them all! 

Lots of cheeses and salads available. 

These are the hot items. 

Breaded chicken parm here! 

Tons of stuff in the frozen section! While I was sitting and waiting for our food to be done, I watched them restock the fridge with more lasagnas. They must churn out this stuff to keep up with demand! 

Not Abe Froman. 

Jake got us some meatballs to try. Damn they were tasty. They were also really cheesy with lots of Parmesan tucked inside! The meatballs were very tender and the marinara sauce was fantastic with a touch of sweetness. It made me wish we had gotten a meatball sandwich!

What we did get was a Two Fingers Braciole Sangwich since we saw it featured in a video from Chicago’s Best (see the video here: https://youtu.be/ycKOeJG1V1A). The braciole is made with top round beef, stuffed with cheese and herbs and things, then it’s got garlic toasted ciabatta bread to hold it all together. It looked fantastic… but… I didn’t really like it. According to the video, the beef is simmered in marinara for two hours to develop a deeper flavor. The meat + sauce had a deep, rich flavor to it that I found a bit overpowering on my tastebuds. The sauce was also a bit on the sour side and I tend to enjoy sauces that have a sweeter flavor. 

T got one of the Italian Sub sandwiches with came with a bunch of different deli meats: volpi salami, prosciutto cotto, capicollo, and mortadella with sharp provolone cheese. He loved his sandwich! The combination of meats with the fresh bread was delicious. Everything on the sandwich tasted so fresh! 

Finally we get to the Combo sandwich with Italian Beef and sausage. They dipped the meat into the juices before piling it on top of the sausage. 

Now the Italian Beef was not my favorite on this sandwich. The beef tasted a bit dried out and didn’t have as much flavor as the sandwich we had at Ferrara Bakery. But the sausage… OH MY GOD the sausage was STELLAR! The sausage had so much flavor and goodness going on in that sucker. The sausage was tender, juicy, and had tons of herbs and other flavors in it. The outer casing also gave the sausage a nice crispness that I loved. I adored the sausage so much that we took a huge sausage roll from their freezer to bring back home with us. I needed to eat that sausage again! 

For dessert we tried a Cannoli Cupcake. There’s whipped cream piled on top of this yellow cake.

And the filling has creamy ricotta and chocolate chips!! That was a damn fine cupcake. 

Here’s the sausage roll that we took home with us, all grilled up a week after we got home from our trip. My dad cooked it whole on the grill and we enjoyed it over several days since DAMN this was a big sausage roll! 

So good on a bun with caramelized onions and little bit of mustard. Om nom nom nom. 

Nottoli & Son Sausage Shop
7652 W Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL 60634

Author: Mary

Mary is a San Diego native and has been a food blogger for 11+ years. She is an avid reader, a lover of puppies, and loves trying new food. Foods she loves: sweets, peanut butter, pasta, Triscuit crackers with cream cheese, and extra nuts on top of her sundaes. Food she dislikes: pickles, really spicy food, runny eggs, olives, and too much arugula.

4 Replies to “Italian Beef Sandwiches in Chicago

  1. That place is definitely dessert heaven! OMG, I would have gone nuts in there. I regret not trying an Italian Beef sandwich while there as well as the combo of beef and sausage (even better, I’ll say).

    1. Oh gosh, I know – I love bakeries like this! I wish I could have tried more! Maybe you’ll return to Chicago one day and get to try one. Jake and I still want to try that place I told you about in the hood. We’re hoping the next time we go they have the Italian beef so I can write about it!

  2. It’s tough when you don’t like you beef dipped. There’s such pleasure in saying “beef……juicy….hot” and not getting slapped or arrested. My personal favorite is Johnnie’s. Though Mr Beef (on Dunning) is quite good. I’ve also been to Al’s, Portillo’s, Buona, and a couple of other places.

    1. Hi Kirk –
      If we are ever in Chicago again I’ll have to try it at a few more places. Maybe I’ll get brave and try it dipped. It could happen!

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