It’s no secret that the one food I crave when I go home is the Italian beef. It just doesn’t exist in Mid-Michigan. While it’s obvious you can find the sandwich in Chicago, most people don’t realize there are a handful of places downstate that offer the sandwich. They’re usually a Chicago-style place that specializes in sandwiches and pizza. Lucky for me, there was not one, but two places right down the street from Huff Hall where I happened to be working.
Geovanti’s Bar and Grill is on the corner of Green and 4th Streets. Think of Green Street like Grand River Avenue. It’s right in the middle of a lot of off campus housing and it’s a short walk from campus of the U of I. There are a number of bars and restaurants on a four block stretch of road.
I walked in to Geovanti’s just as they were opening at 11:00 AM. There are two entrances. There’s the entrance on Green, but there’s also an alley entrance. I was on the phone and not paying attention, so I walked around to the front entrance.
The building doubles as a food joint and a bar. The upstairs space where you walk in is where the food is. You order at the counter then take a seat at either one of the handful of tables or at a counter over looking the stairs that lead down to the bar area. I’ve eaten at Geovanti’s twice, but I’ve never seen the downstairs. The bar doesn’t open until 5:00 and I’m usually on a lunch break anyway.
There was one guy working the counter when I walked in. He had a very thick Greek accent that made him hard to understand and he got rude when you asked him to repeat something. It wasn’t a problem for me, but I was listening to him taking phone in orders. If I was on the other end, I would have hung up.
I put in my order for an Italian beef, fries and a Sprite then took a seat. A few minutes later, another guy brought my sandwich out to me in one of those little red baskets. The sandwich was still smoking it was so hot, so I dove into the fries instead. The fries are just out of the bag fries, but they were cooked to a crunchy golden brown.
After eating about half of my fries, I tried the sandwich again. It was a sloppy mess…..which is exactly how I like my Italian beef’s. I doubt they make the beef in house, but this is one food item that I don’t care if they use packaged stuff. The Au Jus had soaked through bread making it impossible to pick up…again, exactly the way I like it. I was hunched over the table doing my best to not make a mess.
The meal set me back a little over eight bucks, but I was in and out in less than twenty minutes. I had walked the four blocks or so from Huff so I would have time to work off the full stomach. I love Italian beef. Geovanti’s doesn’t do anything special, but they do exactly what I want and that’s all I can really ask for.