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  • Bari [Italian Deli-Subs!]

    Post #1 - August 22nd, 2009, 1:32 pm
    Post #1 - August 22nd, 2009, 1:32 pm Post #1 - August 22nd, 2009, 1:32 pm
    I kinda thought for a second that this must already be a GNR. An iconic institution that I happily count as a walking distance regular in my 'hood. Fresh baked bread from D'amatos plus high quality imported meats plus house made giardienera equals arguably my favorite sandwich in Chicago, others think so too. Every time I embark on a long distance car trip, an Italian is my bag lunch (and dinner too depending on the breadth of the journey). Also perfect for a hunger relieving lunch in the middle of a particularly arduous workday. Not a bad little European deli either, a stop every time I make pizzas for fresh Italian sausage and imported cured this and thats. Italian charcuterie for entertaining, this place has many functions in my life. Well with two cheese shops in this year's offerings, I figure that Bari can share space with Graziano's- Bari is the epitome of a Great Neighborhood Restaurant, or Resource, or whatever we want to call it.
    The main thread I could find on the forum:
    viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2073&hilit=bari

    Bari
    1120 W Grand Ave
    Chicago, IL 60622
    (312) 666-0730
  • Post #2 - August 22nd, 2009, 8:19 pm
    Post #2 - August 22nd, 2009, 8:19 pm Post #2 - August 22nd, 2009, 8:19 pm
    I will gladly second this. Bari has utterly spoiled me for sub sandwiches in Chicago; I just can't go anywhere else.
    I used to think the brain was the most important part of the body. Then I realized who was telling me that.
  • Post #3 - August 22nd, 2009, 10:03 pm
    Post #3 - August 22nd, 2009, 10:03 pm Post #3 - August 22nd, 2009, 10:03 pm
    I'm with Jefe. I had assumed that Bari was a GNR. It certainly should be. I can't think of a better sub in Chicagoland.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #4 - August 23rd, 2009, 7:46 am
    Post #4 - August 23rd, 2009, 7:46 am Post #4 - August 23rd, 2009, 7:46 am
    Total no-brainer here. Bari has such a "classic" feel that it would be pretty easy to overlook. It was a GNR before such a title existed. In any case, since I started working a short walk away from them, Bari has been the easy choice for office lunches. No place in the vicinity is so overwhelmingly delicious, very reasonably priced, and operated by very busy people who nevertheless care a ton about their product. I, despite my limited clout here, gladly support this nom.
  • Post #5 - August 23rd, 2009, 7:54 am
    Post #5 - August 23rd, 2009, 7:54 am Post #5 - August 23rd, 2009, 7:54 am
    I'm strongly behind this nomination. Bari serves the prototypical sub sandwich, and their hot and extra hot giardinara is among my favorite in town. If someone else didn't nominate Bari this time, it was on my short list to do so myself.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #6 - August 23rd, 2009, 8:04 am
    Post #6 - August 23rd, 2009, 8:04 am Post #6 - August 23rd, 2009, 8:04 am
    Bari might deserve the award for its sandwiches, but I think it's worth noting that their produce and packaged goods offerings are sometimes atrocious. Among the dusty shelves, I have found boxes of raisins that were 2 years past the expiration date, and an open bottle of olive oil with about 1/3 of the contents missing. Wilted basil, juiceless lemons, and crappy berries often fill out the produce section, even while such items are in the height of season.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #7 - August 23rd, 2009, 10:45 am
    Post #7 - August 23rd, 2009, 10:45 am Post #7 - August 23rd, 2009, 10:45 am
    Living less than a block away from Bari, I have to fight the urge to make it a daily meal. I thought about nominating this myself but was reluctant given the lack of recent posts. I guess Bari is a foregone conclusion at this point.

    I have never had a bad sandwich here. From the light summery Caprese to the juicy Italian Sausage and Meatball subs to the classic Hot Italian, Bari consistently puts out a great product.

    Sandwich-wise, this is a no-brainer. However, as kenny points out, their other offerings can be hit-or-miss. I've been less than impressed with their olive salad and thought their seafood salad was an oily mess. Other than that, though, Bari is an instant GNR in my book.
  • Post #8 - August 23rd, 2009, 11:14 am
    Post #8 - August 23rd, 2009, 11:14 am Post #8 - August 23rd, 2009, 11:14 am
    This place is a gem and sandwiches are more than the sum of their parts. I generally enjoy the prosciutto & mozz, the Italian and the the Italian veggie with artichoke add-on. Phoning in an order to Bari is a regular Bears Sunday ritual. For the last two GNR rounds, I was waiting for someone to nominate Bari and I'm glad the wait is finally over and waiting has been an integral part of my Bary experience.

    I'm a particularly superstitious sports fan and often force everyone in my party not to eat a bite until something good happens. This wait can be interminable, but since I bring the sandwiches, I make the rules. Futility on the field has born out one truth time and again: the freshly baked D'amato's bread in Bari promises to stay shatteringly crisp but chewy even if soaked in giardinara and set on the counter to wait an hour. And these sandwiches, enjoyed after a hometown triumph, are true celebrations.

    I will say that while the meatball sub is tasty, it commits a cardinal sin to me which is that it steams the D'amato's bread soft and renders its crust limp, sacrificing one of my chief pleasures in this style of sandwich.

    I have not tried much of the deli or the grocery save for the occasional case of fresh figs which were very good.

    Given the forking topic, though, maybe jefe would like to clarify if this is a GNRestaurant or GNResource nominee and so the commentary can be channeled in the appropriate direction.
  • Post #9 - August 23rd, 2009, 11:34 am
    Post #9 - August 23rd, 2009, 11:34 am Post #9 - August 23rd, 2009, 11:34 am
    Hear, hear!
    To me, Bari is the very definition of a GNR.
    It and its neighbor D'Amato's are an institution unto themselves.
    Last edited by Matt Elmer on August 23rd, 2009, 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #10 - August 23rd, 2009, 12:11 pm
    Post #10 - August 23rd, 2009, 12:11 pm Post #10 - August 23rd, 2009, 12:11 pm
    gastro gnome wrote:Given the forking topic, though, maybe jefe would like to clarify if this is a GNRestaurant or GNResource nominee and so the commentary can be channeled in the appropriate direction.


    Alright, alright, let's go with Restaurant since most often I stop for the subs (see thread title) and the growing consensus seems to be that they are primarily best at the art of the sandwich. I still stand behind their deli case, especially since it is the closest place to me to pick up this kind of fare. Graziano's is not so far, but more of a car ride than walk-to.
  • Post #11 - August 24th, 2009, 2:53 pm
    Post #11 - August 24th, 2009, 2:53 pm Post #11 - August 24th, 2009, 2:53 pm
    I think I still have a problem with this. We can call Bari a "restaurant" if we want, but serving prepared food is a small part of its operation. It is primarily a retail store, and not a particularly good one. I know there are other cases of GNR's where not everything on the menu is a hit, but I think this really stretches that too far.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #12 - August 24th, 2009, 3:00 pm
    Post #12 - August 24th, 2009, 3:00 pm Post #12 - August 24th, 2009, 3:00 pm
    Kenny - My understanding is that its nomination is for its ready-made food (the sandwiches). Given the lines down the aisles for its sandwiches and the number of guys working the sandwich portion of the business (as well as the aforementioned dust on the shelved grocery items), is it fair to conclude that Bari's sandwiches are only a "small part" of its operation? Even if it that was true, is the ready-made food portion-to-business ratio relevant for GNR(estaurant) purposes? (To clarify, if Bari had no grocery, no butcher shop, and no produce, and did nothing but make the exact same sandwiches, would you still have an issue with it?) Not trying to pick a fight, but get to the heart of the issue. :)
  • Post #13 - August 24th, 2009, 3:11 pm
    Post #13 - August 24th, 2009, 3:11 pm Post #13 - August 24th, 2009, 3:11 pm
    I already nominated Pizza Art Cafe, but if I could nominate more than one place, I'd also nominate D'Amatos and Bari. So, I support this nomination. Their subs are fantastic (and served on D'Amatos bread). In fact, everything in their deli case is fantastic - lots of good salamis and other cured meats (I haven't tried their fresh meat).

    Their packaged goods are, as Kennyz noted, hit and miss. Their own labeled stuff, such as giandinera, is incredibly good. They also have an interesting selection of imported Italian products that aren't that easy to find elsewhere in town. The packaged stuff could be better, though. They have a large selection of olive oil, but none displayed the harvest date (or even year). Those that had expiration dates expired in early 2010, meaning that they were likely over a year old by now. That might be typical of what you find at a big box grocery store, but it isn't what you want from a specialty market.

    The award committee will have to work out how to judge a place that is clearly both a "restaurant" and "resource", and may only be above the bar for some combination of the two. In this case, I think Bari stands on its own as a "restaurant" because of the quality of the sandwiches and other take-out stuff from the deli counter. So many people eat sandwiches, but there are actually very few really great places to get a sandwich in Chicago. Bari is one of them.
  • Post #14 - August 24th, 2009, 3:21 pm
    Post #14 - August 24th, 2009, 3:21 pm Post #14 - August 24th, 2009, 3:21 pm
    aschie30 wrote:...if Bari did nothing but make sandwiches, and had no grocery, no butcher shop, and no produce, but made the exact same sandwiches, would you still have an issue with it?


    No, but if Target happened to start carrying Natalina's cannoli at the registers, I don't think I'd want to call Target a GNR either. Great cannoli. Great sandwiches. Not Great Neighborhood Restaurants.

    I'm honestly not sure about this. Maybe I could be convinced that it's enough for a mediocre grocery store to have a little counter in the back making great sandwiches. Maybe Fox & Obel should be a GNR too, because it makes the best bread in the city, even though that bread is amidst way overpriced meat, mediocre fish, and sad produce. Maybe Whole Foods qualifies too, because Gary says it has one of the best cheese guys around. Jewel has some outstanding sales on paper goods, very useful for backyard barbecues.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #15 - August 24th, 2009, 3:25 pm
    Post #15 - August 24th, 2009, 3:25 pm Post #15 - August 24th, 2009, 3:25 pm
    Kennyz wrote:
    aschie30 wrote:...if Bari did nothing but make sandwiches, and had no grocery, no butcher shop, and no produce, but made the exact same sandwiches, would you still have an issue with it?


    No, but if Target happened to start carrying Natalina's cannoli at the registers, I don't think I'd want to call Target a GNR either. Great cannoli. Great sandwiches. Not Great Neighborhood Restaurants.

    I'm honestly not sure about this. Maybe I could be convinced that it's enough for a mediocre grocery store to have a little counter in the back making great sandwiches. Maybe Fox & Obel should be a GNR too, because it makes the best bread in the city, even though that bread is amidst way overpriced meat, mediocre fish, and sad produce. Maybe Whole Foods qualifies too, because Gary says it has one of the best cheese guys around. Jewel has some outstanding sales on paper goods, very useful for backyard barbecues.


    Rather than weigh in on the substance of this, I'll just say that this is one of the most funny things I've read in a while! :)
  • Post #16 - August 24th, 2009, 3:40 pm
    Post #16 - August 24th, 2009, 3:40 pm Post #16 - August 24th, 2009, 3:40 pm
    Kennyz wrote:Maybe I could be convinced that it's enough for a mediocre grocery store to have a little counter in the back making great sandwiches.

    Been to La Unica lately?
  • Post #17 - August 24th, 2009, 3:52 pm
    Post #17 - August 24th, 2009, 3:52 pm Post #17 - August 24th, 2009, 3:52 pm
    nr706 wrote:
    Kennyz wrote:Maybe I could be convinced that it's enough for a mediocre grocery store to have a little counter in the back making great sandwiches.

    Been to La Unica lately?


    Indeed I have. Obviously this is subjective, but to me La Unica is - or at least has - something way closer to a restaurant than Bari. There's a full lunch counter and plenty of seating. For me, for a place to meet the definition of "Great Neighborhood Restaurant," it has to meet some basic threshold of what a reasonable person could say is a restaurant. La Unica has a restaurant inside it. Bari does not, at least not in my subjective view.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #18 - August 24th, 2009, 4:06 pm
    Post #18 - August 24th, 2009, 4:06 pm Post #18 - August 24th, 2009, 4:06 pm
    This is in my neighborhood. I agree with craveability of the sandwiches. I agree with the nomination. They make a great sub. I also understand KennyZ's points, but he's only one guy.
  • Post #19 - August 24th, 2009, 4:10 pm
    Post #19 - August 24th, 2009, 4:10 pm Post #19 - August 24th, 2009, 4:10 pm
    From the Pastoral nomination thread:
    aschie30 wrote:Just a gentle FYI - jesteinf nominated Pastoral as a Great Neighborhood Resource (not Restaurant). (See here for more information on the differences between the two.) Thus, Pastoral's made-to-order food is not at issue; rather, what is at issue is its merit as a great neighborhood resource for cheese, bread, salume, wine, etc.

    This seems to correlate with the discussion here, but in the opposite direction. If indeed Bari is being nominated as a GNRestaurant, then the discussion and award consideration should primarily be focused on its restaurant-, not resource-centered, qualities. Just my two cents.
  • Post #20 - August 24th, 2009, 4:35 pm
    Post #20 - August 24th, 2009, 4:35 pm Post #20 - August 24th, 2009, 4:35 pm
    Not as special as Riviera, but I still love Bari. Kenny, it would seem that da Riv laid down precedent for this some time back.

    NB, ya'll: D'Amato's isn't a GNR either, though the pizza, almond cookies and cherry bars are maybe my last meal. Think about it. Edit: I see that D'Amato's is now nominated. Of course.

    Oh, and La Unica's no "mediocre grocery" by a long shot.
    Last edited by JeffB on August 24th, 2009, 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #21 - August 24th, 2009, 4:36 pm
    Post #21 - August 24th, 2009, 4:36 pm Post #21 - August 24th, 2009, 4:36 pm
    geno55 wrote:From the Pastoral nomination thread:
    aschie30 wrote:Just a gentle FYI - jesteinf nominated Pastoral as a Great Neighborhood Resource (not Restaurant). (See here for more information on the differences between the two.) Thus, Pastoral's made-to-order food is not at issue; rather, what is at issue is its merit as a great neighborhood resource for cheese, bread, salume, wine, etc.

    This seems to correlate with the discussion here, but in the opposite direction. If indeed Bari is being nominated as a GNRestaurant, then the discussion and award consideration should primarily be focused on its restaurant-, not resource-centered, qualities. Just my two cents.


    I mostly agree with your and aschie30's comments, but I still think it's valid to question whether the place is a restaurant. I don't think Bari is, and I suspect that's a big part of why it was never nominated before.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #22 - August 24th, 2009, 4:45 pm
    Post #22 - August 24th, 2009, 4:45 pm Post #22 - August 24th, 2009, 4:45 pm
    I've never been to Bari, but I've had their subs when a coworker has put in delivery orders. The proscuitto-fresh mozz. with eggplant and hot giardinera is one of the best sandwiches ever. I've tried a couple of their other offerings, but return to this sandwich.

    My two cents in the other debate in this thread, does Mario's have seating? Da Riv is a GNRestaurant -- a shop with a great deli, no?

    I support the Bari nomination as a restaurant, mainly because that's what I know it as.
    -Mary
  • Post #23 - August 24th, 2009, 4:51 pm
    Post #23 - August 24th, 2009, 4:51 pm Post #23 - August 24th, 2009, 4:51 pm
    Clearly I'm outnumbered. Fine. At least people who read the nominating thread will know what they're in for with a trip to Bari.

    Bari, imo, does not even belong in the same sentence with the Riv. Bari is a fairly lousy store that is able to take what few good quality packaged/ processed goods they have, and put them in the right proportions on a nice roll that they bought from next door. Riviera is an excellent store, and they actually make food - unbelievably well, in fact.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #24 - August 24th, 2009, 5:10 pm
    Post #24 - August 24th, 2009, 5:10 pm Post #24 - August 24th, 2009, 5:10 pm
    Kenny,

    No argument here, mostly. I wish Bari and any number of other places would keep it local by stocking Riv-made salume. Riv's sopresatta is probably the best I've had anywhere, and I've tried quite a bit. But Riv's superiority doesn't preclude Bari, right? Plus, I don't believe you are being entirely fair to Bari's house-made Italian sausages and canned/jarred goods. Last, I raised Riv because you'd suggested that maybe a deli counter with minimal seating shouldn't be a GNR. On that broad point, I disagree. Heck, if Thai Grocery were here today, I'd nominate it as a restaurant as much as a resource. And then there's C. Leon....
  • Post #25 - August 24th, 2009, 5:51 pm
    Post #25 - August 24th, 2009, 5:51 pm Post #25 - August 24th, 2009, 5:51 pm
    Jeff,

    It's an argument that's as old as the GNR program. I know there were influential dissenters when the Riv's nomination came up, but they were outnumbered by the supporters who believed that it qualified. Last year, there were borderline places that lost out because the consensus was that they did not qualify, even though some very influential supporters thought otherwise. There's no black and white line to determine whether a store can qualify for a GNR. It qualifies if the board says it qualifies. So far, it seems that the board says Bari qualifies. I disagree. I just think that a GNR winner should be good at whatever its primary mission is. I've been on the losing side of more important elections in my life, so I'll be OK whatever happens :)

    Kenny
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #26 - August 24th, 2009, 6:03 pm
    Post #26 - August 24th, 2009, 6:03 pm Post #26 - August 24th, 2009, 6:03 pm
    Kennyz wrote:I've been on the losing side of more important elections in my life, so I'll be OK whatever happens :)

    You just can't let go of that homecoming king vote-tampering fiasco, can you? :wink:

    Kenny's point seems persuasive to me. A GNR should be doing more than just sourcing pretty good products and assembling them into pretty good sandwiches. That said, I have yet to try me a Bari sandwich. I hope to correct that soon and weigh in more substantively here.
    --Rich
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #27 - August 24th, 2009, 6:23 pm
    Post #27 - August 24th, 2009, 6:23 pm Post #27 - August 24th, 2009, 6:23 pm
    perhaps this is a more convincing argument: the main Bari thread averages about 1 post per year from anyone who's actually describing the sandwiches, and maybe 2 posts per year from anyone describing any actual experience at the place at all. There are plenty of passing mentions of Bari subs on the forum, but almost nothing when it comes to posts that describe actual experiences eating them. Is that a GNR track record?
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #28 - August 24th, 2009, 7:32 pm
    Post #28 - August 24th, 2009, 7:32 pm Post #28 - August 24th, 2009, 7:32 pm
    Kennyz wrote:perhaps this is a more convincing argument:


    Kenny - What exactly are you arguing about? You don't like Bari as a store. It's not being nominated for the very things you don't like them for. But, what about their sandwiches? What is your commentary about that?

    I will say that I probably eat Bari sandwiches at least twice a month. They are very good. No, I don't post everytime I eat a sandwich; I don't think of it. Now, you can try to ding it on its lack of a track record -- but what is your mission based on: (a) the fact that you don't like their sandwiches; (b) that you don't like their store goods; (c) that they're not a restaurant (i.e., no tables or chairs); (d) that their "restaurant" portion is de minimus compared to their store portion (which is arguable); or (e) some other unenunciated reason?
  • Post #29 - August 24th, 2009, 7:49 pm
    Post #29 - August 24th, 2009, 7:49 pm Post #29 - August 24th, 2009, 7:49 pm
    RAB wrote:Kenny's point seems persuasive to me. A GNR should be doing more than just sourcing pretty good products and assembling them into pretty good sandwiches. That said, I have yet to try me a Bari sandwich. I hope to correct that soon and weigh in more substantively here.


    I am willing to be convinced by Kennyz, but the above doesn't resonate with me. By this reasoning, what sandwich place would qualify? Only one that bakes its own bread, or cures their own meat? (Also, I think the supporters of Bari are more effusive than "pretty good products" and "pretty good sandwiches".)
  • Post #30 - August 24th, 2009, 7:53 pm
    Post #30 - August 24th, 2009, 7:53 pm Post #30 - August 24th, 2009, 7:53 pm
    I've always put Bari's sandwiches in the category of "something I must not get." Everyone seems to love the sub--and folks that I know have better tastebuds than me love it-- but not only do I not love the sub, but I really dislike it. I've tried their sandwiches a number of times, and each and every one has been at best disappointing, and at worst, inedible.

    My biggest bitch is that the quality of the ingredients seems to be below par. And to that, I always hear the counter defense--...but, trixie, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts! Which I can buy, if there are techniques applied to those ingredients that somehow transform them. For instance, the Cubano at La Unica, I think is bigger than the sum of it's parts--the cheese, meats, pickles, mustard, condiments all forced into a harmonious gooey mass surrounded by a crispy browned roll. But if it were a cold ham and cheese with some lechon thrown in for good measure, the sandwich would less than the sum...

    I thought for sure that I had written in one of the Bari threads--but looking back, I see that I mentioned the Bari Italian Sub as one of the worst things I ate in 2006. Cilantro called me out on it--and I qualified my response here.

    Kenny--go try the sandwich! I'm very curious to hear what you think of it.

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