If I'm going to have lunch out during the week, I usually take it on Friday's. It's a special treat, and something to look forward to. After my first full week of work (in over a year!), I decided to treat myself to a brand new place. It's good to get out of the office for awhile.
I was looking at my Foodspotting app (if you have and iPhone, grab this app. It's free and awesome!), and trying to find somewhere around my office building to go, somewhere I hadn't eaten before. I saw a picture for an Italian Beef, and knew that was my winner. I went on the internet to check out reviews, and I saw and incredibly positive response. So off I went to see how authentic Italian Beef can be in Orlando (and to satisfy my lunchtime hunger!)
If you remember, I did a special post about my trip to Chicago a few months back, and included in that post was my first adventure with an Italian Beef sandwich. It was (and is) the best sandwich I have ever had. And now that I had eaten an authentic Italian Beef, I felt like I could judge a new kind in a different location.
First, let me talk about the restaurant. It's a small place, but very clean, and nicely decorated. There is a nice outdoor courtyard where you can eat under an umbrella by a fountain. And they pipe their music outside, so you won't miss that element.
The staff was friendly and helpful. My cashier had a smiley personality and was very polite. I had a bit of a wait to get my meal (about 15 minutes), and she was apologetic that it took so long. Good customer service is never something that should be overlooked. The older woman working behind the counter getting the food ready to go out seemed friendly and efficient, and I heard her have different conversations with some of the regulars. There was another gentleman walking around, straightening the chairs, offering to help out newcomers with the menu (this did not apply to me, I purposely affect an air of confidence and knowing what I'm doing in a new restaurant, even if I don't, LoL!).
At first, the prices seemed high to me, but after seeing and eating the amount of food I was given, I don't feel gipped. My soda, fries, and sandwich came out to $11, but I couldn't even finish the whole sandwich (I got the whole, but there is a half option, which I would get on my next visit). I probably could have gotten my order, split it in half with someone, and still be perfectly satisfied (and saved $).
I ordered the standard Italian Beef. You can choose to have it dipped (this is traditional in Chicago, and that's the way I like it) or you can have the juice on the side and dip it yourself. You can have sweet peppers (green bell peppers) on it, for free. And your third option invloves a side of hot giardiniera (a wonderful condiment made from pickled veggies like carrots, onions, peppers, cauliflower, and celery - it can be spicy or mild, I like both), which is a small upcharge (30 cents or so). I had my sandwich dipped, with sweet peppers, and added the giardiniera on the side.
To round out my meal, I added fries for a couple of dollars, and also a medium drink. The fries were crinkle-cut and were nice and crispy. It was a fairly decent sized order.
About my sandwich. The bread was awesome. The dip in the juice made it moist, but not overly wet. Personally, I do not like hard or crunchy bread, especially on my sandwiches. I prefer to have soft bread, and this bread was perfect! The meat (thinly shaved roast beef roasted in a wet broth) was tender, sliced nicely, and seasoned well. The sweet peppers were good, but I ended up picking mine off (and next time I would order my sandwich without them) because I prefer raw green bell peppers to cooked ones (this is on everything, by the way, and I often forget to ask for no peppers on cooked items, no reflection of this restaurant). Giardiniera really is a great compliment to this sandwich, and the giardiniera at this particular restaurant was delicious, spicy, vinegary, and looked homemade. At first I thought the small container wouldn't be enough, but it really was the right size.
I overheard some conversations while I was there, about how the restaurant had been slow all week. However, when I was there, the place was packed! I was surprised to learn that not a lot of people had been there during the rest of the week. This is definitely a place worth eating at, even if for the Italian Beef alone. They do have other sandwiches, included a meatball sub which I saw ordered frequently, Chicago style hot dogs (which the reviews online are mixed on), and other items like salads.
I highly recomend you check out Italian Beefstro if you're in the Orlando area. It's close to downtown, has a great sandwich, and a friendly staff. If you're worried about the price, split a whole with a friend, and then share and order of fries. You'll save $ and both be full. As for authenticity, I would say it is pretty darn close to what you'd find in Chicago. Go try it for yourself!
The website for the restaurant appears to be down, but if you want more info and user reviews, check out UrbanSpoon at the link below: