Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Munch Goes to Tootie's Famous Italian Beef

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Munch Goes to Tootie's Famous Italian Beef

Article excerpt

It's four months into the year, and among the Christmas gifts that have been put to actual use rather than returned, regifted or banished to the basement: "The Mac & Cheese Cookbook" by Alison Arevalo and Erin Wade, proprietors of Homeroom, an Oakland, Calif., restaurant based around the almost divine-like combination of elbow noodles and the sauce of coagulated milk casein.

For one who views macaroni and cheese as my own personal manna, this is a sacred text. The 28 recipes include a Classic Mac, Jalapeno Popper Mac, Sriracha Mac, Dungeness Crab Mac, Patatas Bravas Mac, Shepherd's Pie Mac, Truffle Mac and Pesto Mac.

And while I'm still getting my b 3;chamel technique down and have dutifully attempted some of the recipes, they are done in vain so long as Tootie's Famous Italian Beef is making a Smokey Bacon Cheese Sauce Mac 'n' Cheese within walking distance of my house.

Opened in late 2012 by Karl Horn in a small South Side storefront, the house specialty is a recipe from his mother (Carol, aka "Tootie," for whom the shop is named) that he's eaten his entire life: the Chicago Italian Beef sandwich.

A native of Mattoon, Ill., Mr. Horn landed here a few years ago to get his MBA at Duquesne and worked in health care consulting before having an "Office Space" moment -- a boss contacted him on a Saturday night for a report not due for several days. He decided corporate America wasn't for him, so he opened the shop.

A distant cousin to Buffalo's Beef on Weck or L.A.'s French Dip, the sandwich is a Windy City staple but was previously little known here in Steel Town. The Horn family recipe is comprised of shredded beef that's been slow-cooked for up to a day in a secret recipe of 12 spices and three vegetables, with pepperoncinis for a little extra zing, served on an Italian hoagie bun with provolone ($8.99 for a six-inch sandwich). …

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