-The Sammy's of Chi
I was very anxious awaiting for the arrival of Monti's. Located on North Talman just off Lawrence ave in Lincoln Square I was very excited when I first heard the former culinary director of Rockit or whatever it is was leaving there to start a place of his own so he could spend more time with his family. So him and his wife opened up Monti's which specializes in authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks. I patiently waited as I heard the news. I developed an appreciation more than I had before for cheesesteaks after a trip to the City of Sandwiches last Fall. I didn't go to neither nor of the famous more well known spots that arent nearly as good as some other places. So instead hit up some lesser known to tourists spots. The steaks I got there were great and unlike anything we could get in Chicago.
The Cheesesteak place in Lincoln Square people are raving about
So I had been fiending ever since and haven't made it back to the Philly Way in Milwaukee for one. Which at the time was the closest place to get the real thing. Not anymore as Monti's was love at first bite for me. We'll get to the cheesesteaks in a lil' bit. Another cool thing about Monti's is it doubles as a friendly neighborhood bar which makes it a great place to get some food and a drink. They have a selection of good beers although I'd like to see a few more. They also offer riot juice which is the blue concoction seen below. So I was told it's a drink from 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'. Got me a lil tipsy turvy the night we had 'em and watched some bball.
It wasn't just the cheesesteaks I was excited about when I heard Monti's was coming. I had the famous Philly roast pork sandwiches while in Philly and I knew they were good but just not that damn good. One of the best if not the best regional sandwich variations in America the ones I had there were fantastic and had me wondering why more Chicago Italian beef places don't offer something similar since the cooking styles can be the same. In Philly most roast pork sandwiches come with thinly sliced, highly seasoned roast pork. Others offer it pulled and at all places they come with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone. I tried Monti's version and was pleased with what they bring but it just wasn't enough to keep me away from the steaks the next time around. That's no knock on them, in fact I take that back, I'll be having one again.
Monti's Philly Style Roast Pork
Monti's uses thinly shaved fresh ribeye steak as their meat of choice and its a good one. The best steak quality I had while in Philly was a place that uses the same except they slice theirs a little thicker than Monti's. Some people might wonder about the double digit pricetag but the regular 8" sandwich with fries is more than enough for most in one sitting. Add to that the quality of the steak and its very reasonable for me. The rolls they wanted to be able to have them made fresh here but that's the thing with an authentic cheesesteak, most people say its Amoroso or it aint real. I don't think that's the case in Philly but in Chicago it might be as close as you can get so they source those from Philadelphia.
I've tried a few of the variations since they first opened. The first time I was there I went with the old classic of a cheese steak with onions. They offer white American and a melted Wisconsin cheddar in place of whiz. I haven't tried that yet and since I never made it to Steve's Prince of Steaks in Philly I've never had one with whiz. I like Monti's steak hoagie but I'm not sure I'll ever have one as good as Cosmi's Deli in Philly which is fine because I got my go-to order now at Monti's. The hot pepper concoction on the 'Rocky' is pretty fire, literally and figuratively but I'm not a fan of the mayo. So I like to get a regular steak with, along with the peppers from the Rocky on the side. This my friends is now one of my go to sandwiches in Chicago and Monti's is pretty much in my regular rotation because of it. I used to go to that other cheesesteak place for a quick fix every once in a while. Cant do that anymore now that Monti's has raised the game.
Cheesesteak "wit" from Monti's
4757 North Talman Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625