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Sidebars: South of Chicago offers authentic 'Region' fare

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SidebarsIf you have followed this column throughout the years, you know it is no secret that I have a particular affinity for the Italian beef sandwich, a Chicago regional staple. Aside from the previously reviewed Big Mike’s Café at 96th Street and College Avenue in Indianapolis, I’ve pointed out that nothing in this market really matches what you can get up north (although the recently opened and not reviewed Detour An American Grille in Carmel does a respectable job). When asked by my law partner, Jess Paul, to join him for an outstanding Italian beef at the intersection of Virginia and College avenues in Indianapolis, I skeptically agreed, despite Jess’ high marks from a previous visit. After all, what can a native of New Albany know about Chicago-style Italian beef anyway?

Upon our arrival, I noticed a sign in the window bearing the Gonnella bread logo. I immediately quipped to Jess that that is a good sign. The restaurant is small and the menu is limited. They serve Italian beef sandwiches with chips and a drink for $5.99, a definitive bargain, meatball and Italian sausage sandwiches and both Chicago-style deep dish and conventional pizzas. More about the meatballs and the pizza shortly.

Sorry Big Mike, but this ranks as Indy’s No. 1 Italian beef, hands down. To put it mildly, I’ve had worse Italian beef in Chicago. Critical to any stellar sandwich is the bread, and this place hits a home run with the Gonnella bakery as a supplier. The beef is all you can ask for, thinly sliced and flavorful in a rich broth that soaks the bread without breaking it apart. Add hot or mild peppers and (non-traditional) cheese and it will satisfy even the most ravenous appetite, including Jenny’s.

The deep dish pizza simply rocks, especially one that contains sausage. They sell an individual size at lunch that is plenty for one person. If you accompany someone for lunch there I recommend one beef sandwich and one individual pizza. By getting both you can split each dish and fully enjoy most of what this place offers in one sitting. The thinner crust pizza is likewise excellent. Both pizza varieties are rapidly becoming traditions at our noon office meetings.

Now, about the meatballs. On one visit I was joined by my lifelong friends, Cameron Cefali, who is also my financial advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors, and Dan Dakich, current host of his own sports talk show from noon to 3 p.m. on WFNI 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis. Dan is also ESPN’s Big Ten basketball color analyst this season alongside Mike Tirico. Both Dan and Cam are fellow Lake County “Region Rats” and fully appreciate the glory of Italian beef.

Cam generously offered to buy lunch in celebration of his and Dan’s birthdays. Since at this lunch I tendered Cam a tidy sum to fund my retirement account, I gladly allowed him to do so. Cam questioned the cashier about the total, telling her he thought he was undercharged. Upon recalculation he was, by about $8. He then asked her if he could try a meatball and promptly heard a shout of “no!” from the back. Upon reminding her he just saved them $8, he was again met with a resounding “no!”

We met at 11 a.m. so Dan could be on the air by noon. After Cam sat down, Dan told us how he couldn’t wait to get on the air and tell this story. I noted how it would make this column. Then the food arrived.

After about three bites of his beef Dan decided it was too good to give this place any bad publicity. He talked about how he would instead mention that small businesses should always be wary because they never know who their customers are. Cam had the beef and sausage combo and we all split a small deep-dish sausage pizza. The three of us left very satisfied, despite the blip in customer service.

There is a lesson for all of us here. Over the cost of one meatball, this place flirted with some extremely bad radio and print publicity. Keep this in mind when dealing with your clients. If you lose a nickel here and there, consider the consequences of complaining too loudly. You might just want to chalk it up to the cost of marketing yourself with the reward of increased business. Please patronize this place, just offer to pay for your meatball. South of Chicago Pizza and Beef, 619 Virginia Ave., Indianapolis, IN, 46203. 317-203-7110. www.southofchicagopizza.com.

__________


Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. Vaiana is a 1992 graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Lukemeyer earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University in 1994 and is active in the Indianapolis Bar Association, Indianapolis Inn of Courts and the Teen Court Program. The opinions expressed in this column are the authors’.

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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