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Sorry, USA Today, This Isn't The Best Sandwich In The World

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Mar 4, 2015 9:30PM

To: Ted Berg, USA Today
From: Chuck Sudo, Chicagoist
Subject: The Best Sandwich in the World

Hi, Ted—can I call you Ted? I saw what you wrote about the breaded steak at Ricobene’s and how, in your estimation, it’s the best sandwich in the world.

You wrote of your time working as a sandwich maker in a deli, your previous experience reviewing sandwiches and all the places around the globe where you’ve partaken in the simple pleasure of enjoying a bunch of meat, cheese and vegetables nestled between two pieces of bread.

I’m also something of an expert on sandwiches. (Thanks for the nod to our list of 25 best sandwiches in your piece, by the way; have you seen our best breakfast sandwich picks?) When it comes to writing about something as being the best, I remind my staff, our readers and myself that term should be subjective. And that’s how I initially approached your article.

Then I read it again and again and again. Then I slept, woke up and read it a final time before my morning oatmeal.

Mark this down: Ricobene’s breaded steak is not the best sandwich in the world.

It isn’t the best sandwich in Chicago. (See our list.)

It isn’t the best breaded steak sandwich in Chicago.

I live in Bridgeport, the South Side neighborhood where Ricobene’s on 26th Street is located. It isn’t even the best breaded steak within walking distance from my home.

There are three to five places that make a better breaded steak than Ricobene’s. I would recommend Gio’s CafĂ© & Deli, home to the panini caprese on our best sandwiches list. Punky’s Pizza & Pasta, with their motto “if your last pizza was funky, call Punky,” makes a great breaded steak. Freddie’s on 31st and Union makes a breaded steak sandwich that rivals Ricobene’s in sheer gluttony. Check it out.

The breaded steak sandwich at Freddie's. (Photo credit: Chuck Sudo/Chicagoist)

Look at that green olive in the giardiniera relish. It's coated in red sauce, spicy and ready to beat the hell out of your digestive system from mouth to tale. We promise, it tastes better than it looks. The most heralded breaded steaks in Bridgeport are consigned to history. Neighbors who have lived here longer than me cite Uncle Johnny's and La Milanese with tears in their eyes. I can vouch for both.

Please understand, Ted, Ricobene's breaded steak is good. It may be a notch below great, compared to the others I mentioned. For someone who may have only had Ricobene's, it may be the best in the world.

The next time you're in Chicago, look me up. We'll go on a breaded steak crawl. It will be epic and it may kill us, but you go long or you go home.