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How to Order an Italian Beef Like a Pro

By now, you’ve heard a lot about this delicious sandwich, and you want to order one like a pro. Unfortunately, you don’t want to walk into 312 Beef & Sausage and look like a newbie. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Luckily for you, there are actually only a few options available to you when ordering a beef sandwich, and you will probably try several combinations of them until you find the one that’s your favorite. But pay attention, practice the lingo, and learn to order like a pro.

1) Dry, Wet, or Dipped?

The most important thing to decide, and the first word that should come out of your mouth after the word “beef”. It is important that you know these three terms:

Dry - The beef is pulled from the juice with tongs, most of the juice is allowed to drip off, and it is put into a roll. No juice is added, and the sandwich is about as dry as it can get.

Wet - The beef is pulled from the juice and immediately put into a roll, leaving the beef “wet”. At 312 Beef & Sausage, we will add another spoonful of beef juice over the top after this step.

Dipped - The beef is pulled from the juice, stuffed into a roll, and then the entire roll is dipped into the beef juice, making a soggy, delicious sandwich. This style of sandwich also gave birth to the style of eating known as the Chicago Lean (see below).

2) Sweet or Hot?

We’re talking about the peppers here. Sweet peppers or hot peppers, to be precise, although even that isn’t very precise, because “hot peppers” is actually incorrect. When ordering a beef “hot”, it refers to “hot giardiniera” - an Italian relish that does include peppers (sport peppers, usually), but also includes celery, cauliflower, carrots, jalapenos, oregano, and garlic, all pickled in a vinegar/oil mixture.

Meanwhile, “sweet peppers” is a collective term typically referring to roasted green and/or red bell peppers. Any good Italian beef joint will most likely be serving you a beef sandwich containing roasted, sometimes marinated strips of green and/or red bell peppers.

3) Cheese or No Cheese?

The main type of cheese offered on a beef sandwich in Chicago is mozzarella (a.k.a. “mozz”) 312 uses a very light shred (feather shred) that is put alongside the beef and peppers to melt the natural way. Some places put it under a broiler to brown the cheese, but we feel that really isn’t necessary. For one, it dries out the bread, and two, it takes too long.

Your cheese will be melted by the natural heat of the beef and juice and will become an integral part of the deliciousness.

And that’s about it! Now you know how to order a beef like a pro. But before heading down to 312 Beef & Sausage practice these handy phrases:

Beef, dipped, hot, mozz Beef, wet, sweet Beef, dipped, sweet Beef, wet, hot, mozz

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