Before going grocery shopping last weekend I thought I'd put some food in my belly so I wouldn't buy out the store. I made a detour and stopped in at Pooley's to check out the resurrected Dog Eat Dog to find out if they have a decent Italian beef.
I chatted with the bartender and found out that people were unamused with their former provider of food. They'd apparently lost some business including Amfam folks and their volleyball leagues have withered. However, Dog Eat Dog has attracted more customers. He said that, prior to the change, Saturday afternoons were dead while, not full, there were several people there including a few families. I placed my order for a beef – hot and wet – and fries and had a beer.
The situation didn't start out well because my meal took 10+ minutes to be served. I hope this was just because they were short-handed or some such thing because it's not like they're slaughtering the cow. You just open the cryo-vacced plastic bag of beef and warm some up in the gravy. While the sandwich came hot, it was not wet. Wet means you dip the sandwich in the gravy, not ladle some onto the meat. These relatively minor gripes aside, it proved to be the best Italian beef in Madison hands down. JJ's
used to serve a decent beef but my last two stops there were disappointing. They've become instant hyper-tension sandwiches now that they pass a bouillon cube in hot water off as gravy. DED uses Scala's beef which is good stuff and they have real gravy instead of what would pass for soup in a prison. It was so nice to eat a beef by someone who understood that there's more to the seasoning than oregano. The giardiniera was nice'n'hot but not overly salty and there was a goodly amount of the stuff. Unlike the FIBs cart
, DED uses a chunk of bread and not mini-loaves. I'm not going to say it was Gonnella's, but it was good. It was a bit chewy and held together fairly well.
The sandwich was $6 which is a little high, although probably on the cheap side for Madison. (Down south, a beef generally runs $4.50-5.) My small fries cost $2 which is about $0.50 too much. They came to me straight from the fryer, which I appreciate, but don't recall much else about them because it was the beef that I'd come for. I figure that, for $8, I'll skip the fries next time and just get the Italian beef with more beef for the same price. I can live with a lengthy wait but the prices are rather high. $3.50 for a Chicago dog? I can get one with fries in Chicago for less than that. You know, the big city with high costs of living.
Still, Dog Eat Dog has the best Italian beef in Madison. (Just don't get me started on how disgusting an Italian beef with Merkt's cheese spread is.) Now, if it were only closer to downtown instead of being within a sports bar on the far northeast side.