Memorable | One of the Best
Harry Caray’s | Chicago’s Best Italian Steak House
Review by: Michael Stern
Harry Caray’s is an Italian steak house that says Chicago. It is named for the late hall-of-fame baseball announcer whose cry of amazement – “Holy Cow!” – was a virtual mantra for Cubs fans. (He also gained renown for his singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during every seventh-inning stretch.). Its hugely popular bar stretches exactly 60’6” – the distance from the pitcher’s rubber to home plate.
A Club Where All Are Welcome
The setting is vintage: a 1895 Dutch Renaissance style limestone building, included in Chicago’s Register of Historic Places. The interior is luxuriously muscula. Mahogany woodwork creates creates a clubby feel. Thick white napery covers tables. Baseball memorabilia serves as decor. Here you will see Harry Caray’s own trademarked giant eyeglasses as well as one of Sammy Sosa’s home run balls from June, 1998. Many customers come in pinstriped business suits. You’ll dig deep in your wallet to eat here. But the dining room radiates an egalitarian feel that makes any decently dressed customer feel right at home.
Steak, Of Course
Steak demands attention. It is prime steak, as good as it gets. In particular, consider the New York sirloin grilled with a coat of cracked peppercorns. Talk about big flavor! Beyond steaks, the menu offers such familiar Italian specialties as lasagna, veal parmigiana, and a risotto of the day.
Chicken Vesuvio: Only in Chicago
Among “Italian” meals, Chicken Vesuvio stands out as a Chicago-only best dish. The cooks sautee bone-in pieces of chicken then bake them to utmost succulence. They emerge from the oven in a dark, red-gold crust of lush skin. The skin slides from the meat as the meat slides off its bone. Is it tender? Forget about it! Dark meat in particular sets new standards for chicken tenderness. Piled among the chicken are wedges of potato, long-sauteed in a bath of white wine, garlic, olive oil, and spice until they are soft as mashed inside, but still boast crunchy edges.
Even if you don’t get chicken Vesuvio, “Vesuvio” potatoes are available as a side dish to go with any steak or chop — the right thing to have in an Italian steak house. The only problem about ordering them is that you likely won’t also be ordering Harry Caray’s garlic mashed potatoes, which are superb.
Note: Back in 2003 Jane and I wrote the Harry Caray Cookbook.
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