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bombacigno's J&C inn [GNR nomination]

bombacigno's J&C inn [GNR nomination]
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  • bombacigno's J&C inn [GNR nomination]

    Post #1 - November 30th, 2005, 11:08 am
    Post #1 - November 30th, 2005, 11:08 am Post #1 - November 30th, 2005, 11:08 am
    Bombacigno's J & C Restaurant
    558 W. Van Buren Ave., Chicago
    312-663-4114

    Went to J&C's Tues at 12:45 pm., (unfortunately it's lunch-only) and, i'm happy to say, it was like nothing had changed in ten years. i started with w cup (which is really a bowl) of the wonderful, meaty chili. Joe, the J in J&C, used to make it spicier, which i like, but Claudette, the C, had made this batch. it was still great. Sometimes, the chili has a tomato-ey base, but this time the only red was from the beans and small tomato pieces. And, i was in luck as there was some italian beef, and a couple of bits of bread, left. "Do you want it dipped a lot or a little?" asked Bob, the cashier. i just looked at him and he laughed and said, "yeah, i know; a lot." While Joe went to D'Amatos for more bread, i savored the numerous bits of beef--it was nearly the bottom of the pan. Because it was nearly finished, the gravy was saltier than usual, but that also meant all the flavors were more intense. like that, its called "debris" at "Mother's" (in the Ferdi sub in New Orleans." Claudie" does a superb job of trimming the fat from the beef before cooking. Only crazy people or suburbanites eat italian beef dry, i thought to myself. And, many of the thinly sliced fresh-fried cottaqe/home fries were actually perfectly crispy! i could go on--the eggplant parm--the many sandwiches--the meatballs! but, there are lots of links if you search this site using "bombacignos". Here's one below:

    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.ph ... ombacignos
  • Post #2 - November 30th, 2005, 11:27 am
    Post #2 - November 30th, 2005, 11:27 am Post #2 - November 30th, 2005, 11:27 am
    Great place! I second (see link above!)
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #3 - December 1st, 2005, 6:03 pm
    Post #3 - December 1st, 2005, 6:03 pm Post #3 - December 1st, 2005, 6:03 pm
    I also second that nomination. My long-term love and admiration for Bombacigno's Italian beef and home fries are well documented here and elsewhere. The beef does need to be dipped to really enjoy it, as the beef is not particularly flavorful; but the rolls they use are the best in class I've seen used for an Italian beef. Plus you gotta love that staircase, especially now that they are selling beer (openly!)
    JiLS
  • Post #4 - December 5th, 2005, 5:06 pm
    Post #4 - December 5th, 2005, 5:06 pm Post #4 - December 5th, 2005, 5:06 pm
    I still don't get this place :? Over priced loop lunch fare with surly attitude and variable quality. What's to like?
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #5 - December 5th, 2005, 6:13 pm
    Post #5 - December 5th, 2005, 6:13 pm Post #5 - December 5th, 2005, 6:13 pm
    In a world of soulless chain restaurants (the Loop)... one old speakeasy, or saloon, or who knows what it was, offers real food and the same old-fashioned tough guy attitude as Martini's in the "what if I'd never lived" portion of It's a Wonderful Life. (Hey look, I'm makin' angels!)

    I don't think I've ever had anything but the chicken sandwich with balsamic vinegar on it, and the homemade potato chip things. Any time I'm in that part of the world, I try to have it.

    I think Bombacigno's is a richly deserving nominee, a real standout in the largely plastic Loop and unknown enough that even I never knew about it until after I'd stopped working downtown.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #6 - December 5th, 2005, 6:35 pm
    Post #6 - December 5th, 2005, 6:35 pm Post #6 - December 5th, 2005, 6:35 pm
    pdaane wrote:I still don't get this place :? Over priced loop lunch fare with surly attitude and variable quality. What's to like?


    Regarding price, I don't think Bombacigno's is out of line with other Loop restaurants. If your comment is just a general complaint about how pricey Loop lunch fair can be, I agree; but I don't think Bombacigno's sins any worse than, e.g. Lou Mitchell's (from which I've never gotten away with a bill under $12). If you like the food, then it is worth the price. Regarding surliness, maybe it's just me and my loveable nature, but I've never caught any attitude, surliness, or whatever. Regarding what's to like, de gustibus... :)
    JiLS
  • Post #7 - December 6th, 2005, 9:26 am
    Post #7 - December 6th, 2005, 9:26 am Post #7 - December 6th, 2005, 9:26 am
    I am always willing to change my mind about J&C's, if only because so many others like the place. I was disappointed to miss the lunch planned there. I have had this similar discussion with Pigmon, we both feel we are missing out on something given the way others talk about the place.

    I do think 12 bucks for a chicken sandwich and fries (oooh, I meant to say fries that are cut in a different shape) is a bit excessive for the loop...but let's face it, J&C's is a walk of 4 or 5 blocks from the loop.

    I work in what may be the more soulless dessert corner of the loop (SW). Sure we complain about the dearth of eating options, but there is more than J&C's for non-chain eating. Haifa and Petra Cafe's for example. You also have independents and semi- or local chains (e.g., Frankels) mixed in along Harrison. Venice Cafe is independent, although after Mitch sold, it has become more chain-like IMHO. My standard is Pazzo's cafe. BTW, Pazzo's chicken sandwich (even though pre-cooked and held) is dressed and toasted to order with a small soup for $5.50.

    If I had in-and-out parking access, I would probably eat in Chinatown or at Manny's more often.

    Again, at J&C's a premium price, plus a walk out of the way and with the surly attitude I have received in the past, what's to like?

    I am open to change and I am available for an enlightening lunch everyday this week, but Friday.
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #8 - December 6th, 2005, 11:07 am
    Post #8 - December 6th, 2005, 11:07 am Post #8 - December 6th, 2005, 11:07 am
    JimInLoganSquare wrote:
    pdaane wrote:I still don't get this place :? Over priced loop lunch fare with surly attitude and variable quality. What's to like?


    Regarding price, I don't think Bombacigno's is out of line with other Loop restaurants. If your comment is just a general complaint about how pricey Loop lunch fair can be, I agree; but I don't think Bombacigno's sins any worse than, e.g. Lou Mitchell's (from which I've never gotten away with a bill under $12). If you like the food, then it is worth the price. Regarding surliness, maybe it's just me and my loveable nature, but I've never caught any attitude, surliness, or whatever. Regarding what's to like, de gustibus... :)


    I agree. If you compare to say Manny's where it costs at least $15 for a sammy, pancake and drink or Al's (compare again w/fries and drink and no freakin' place to sit!) or even the Berghoff Cafe (again full meal), you are not atypical at all on price.

    I guess ya never know from time to time, but I've never had surely service.

    I'd be happy to meet you there for lunch Peter (and others).

    Rob
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #9 - December 6th, 2005, 11:39 am
    Post #9 - December 6th, 2005, 11:39 am Post #9 - December 6th, 2005, 11:39 am
    pdaane wrote:I am always willing to change my mind about J&C's, if only because so many others like the place. I was disappointed to miss the lunch planned there. I have had this similar discussion with Pigmon, we both feel we are missing out on something given the way others talk about the place.

    I do think 12 bucks for a chicken sandwich and fries (oooh, I meant to say fries that are cut in a different shape) is a bit excessive for the loop...but let's face it, J&C's is a walk of 4 or 5 blocks from the loop.

    I'm going to try not to get into details -- I think I have in the past and why rehash -- but I am utterly on the side of you and Pigmon. Wretched little place. I will say that Joe and, hm, Claudia? were actually very nice, I thought, but good lord, that food was awful. If you and Pigmon return and have any revelations I might consider going back, but without that I'm very happy with the thought of never eating there again.
  • Post #10 - December 6th, 2005, 2:24 pm
    Post #10 - December 6th, 2005, 2:24 pm Post #10 - December 6th, 2005, 2:24 pm
    3000 words saved, roughly, on the specialness of Bombacigno's. The old Chicago atmosphere, as King's Thursday arrives to meet me today for a spur of the moment lunch (this is a trick of the camera making it look well-lit, it's actually perpetually dim inside):

    Image

    The special chicken and eggplant sandwich, cottage fries in the background:

    Image

    The Italian beef and sausage, all quite good:

    Image

    The only thing King's Thursday did not care for is Fox News running on the TVs. I think it goes very well with the owners, who were snarling at each other over the placement of some boxes as we came in.

    There, someone else can have the remaining 2,975 words.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #11 - December 6th, 2005, 5:52 pm
    Post #11 - December 6th, 2005, 5:52 pm Post #11 - December 6th, 2005, 5:52 pm
    I agree with all the posts so far...For 5 years, Mr Delk's office was around the corner and for 4 of those years, while I plowed through a second BA, we met and lunched there routinely.

    I agree that it is a bit pricey, but have never felt any surly attitude. I realize that I'm not only thick skinned, but rather disarming so I am somewhat dismissive about service.

    Grabbing lunch there twice a month felt like being an insider...like hitting Ramova or Ed's...

    My only dissent? The stupid fake street signs announcing Taylor and Bishop...pathetically sad...
    Authorized time shifting let the genie out of the bottle....
  • Post #12 - December 9th, 2005, 11:58 am
    Post #12 - December 9th, 2005, 11:58 am Post #12 - December 9th, 2005, 11:58 am
    Going to lunch there today to decide. I've been here twice before, and enjoyed my Italian Beef and Cottage Fries. There is a definitive, almost cinnamon-like flavor to the meat. Great bread. The fries were a little burnt for my taste. The second time I had the eggplant parm. It was firm, flavorful and authentic. I would concur about some surliness. The owner was very friendly and kind of playful. His son, on the other hand, might have been having a bad day. He groaned when I asked him if he could open my beer bottle. Again, he might have been really busy and tired, but his body language and attitude could definitely be interpreted as "surly."
    The onions say "AAAHHH EEEESSE"
  • Post #13 - December 9th, 2005, 12:26 pm
    Post #13 - December 9th, 2005, 12:26 pm Post #13 - December 9th, 2005, 12:26 pm
    delk wrote:My only dissent? The stupid fake street signs announcing Taylor and Bishop...pathetically sad...


    Just curious: why do you find this so "pathetically sad"? I assume that the business either started over there or that the family used to (perhaps even still does) live over there, neither of which would be strange for an Italian family in the centre of Chicago.

    And lord knows, Taylor and Bishop has a lot more charm than that stretch of Van Buren...

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #14 - December 9th, 2005, 12:48 pm
    Post #14 - December 9th, 2005, 12:48 pm Post #14 - December 9th, 2005, 12:48 pm
    I don't doubt that the business my have started there, or the family resided and or resides there. I feel the space is rather charming on its own and that the signs are overkill. The fact that they are doubled and so prominently placed gives it an unnecesary Disney feel.

    Besides, I'm lucky enough to be able to walk down to Taylor and Bishop in less than five minutes... :lol:
    Authorized time shifting let the genie out of the bottle....
  • Post #15 - December 9th, 2005, 12:53 pm
    Post #15 - December 9th, 2005, 12:53 pm Post #15 - December 9th, 2005, 12:53 pm
    delk wrote:I don't doubt that the business my have started there, or the family resided and or resides there. I feel the space is rather charming on its own and that the signs are overkill. The fact that they are doubled and so prominently placed gives it an unnecesary Disney feel.

    Besides, I'm lucky enough to be able to walk down to Taylor and Bishop in less than five minutes... :lol:


    Well, I guess I still see nothing "pathetically sad" about their allegiance to Taylor Street.
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #16 - December 9th, 2005, 1:23 pm
    Post #16 - December 9th, 2005, 1:23 pm Post #16 - December 9th, 2005, 1:23 pm
    Just returned from lunch at Bombacigno's. It was not an outing worthy enough to garner a nomination for the GNRP. My chili was cold in the middle, and my friend's fagioli was mealy; it seemed like the garlic may have been overcooked. My italian beef was okay. It was overcooked as well; the beef was dry, and overly lean. I know it states on the chalkboard "Leanest beef you can ever taste", but I'm not so sure that's a good thing. I like the owners, and want to like the place, especially with very little viable options in the Loop, but can't recommend it for a GNR. Also, on the surliness subject, I think everyone was rather friendly today, although my friend did get a bit of an attitude when asking for his salami sub without the dressing, and with butter. By the way, the sub arrived with no butter and with dressing.
    The onions say "AAAHHH EEEESSE"
  • Post #17 - December 13th, 2005, 2:47 pm
    Post #17 - December 13th, 2005, 2:47 pm Post #17 - December 13th, 2005, 2:47 pm
    The Great Neighborhood Restaurants Program is designed to recognize local restaurants that the LTH community considers “great” – in other words, places that provide a food experience that is distinctly “better than the rest.”


    I took advantage of today's LTH Downtown lunch at Bombacigno's. A one time only visit doesn't allow for much of a sampling of the menu. My choice for lunch was a combination Italian beef/sausage sandwich, an order of cottage fries, and a fountain drink (Diet Coca Cola/Pepsi).

    The restaurant seemed nice enough, and casual enough, for a near-Loop place. My sandwich was flavorful, and the bread good quality. The cottage fries were what I expected, and I'd have been disappointed with anything less . . . any place else. I didn't feel anything "great" about the restaurant (keeping in mind the GNR "great" criteria). I think that even first-timers who've eaten about town recognize "great."

    And, compared to restaurants that might offer a comparable menu . . . the cost of about $12.50 for what I had for lunch was high-priced, even by Downtown standards (and the restaurant isn't Downtown, in the sense of operating costs).

    A "great" restaurant would cause me to return, even go out of my way to go back. I work only four blocks from Bombacigno's, and I'll go back in the future to further explore the offerings (more so in search of something different than the 15 food outlets I can choose from in my building's food court), but I probably wouldn't go back if I didn't work close by, unless I was driving by and was hungry.

    I think that nominating this restaurant (and including it in a vote) cheapens the field (and value) of the GNR project overall, and that would be a mistake.
  • Post #18 - December 13th, 2005, 4:09 pm
    Post #18 - December 13th, 2005, 4:09 pm Post #18 - December 13th, 2005, 4:09 pm
    VI still likes it, otherwise the reviews were not so much "mixed" at today's lunch.

    See the thread about our lunch here.
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #19 - December 13th, 2005, 4:15 pm
    Post #19 - December 13th, 2005, 4:15 pm Post #19 - December 13th, 2005, 4:15 pm
    pdaane wrote:VI still likes it, otherwise the reviews were not so much "mixed" at today's lunch.

    See the thread about our lunch here.


    Yea, it's kinda like LTH in reverse.

    For the sake of full disclosure, I shall report that my wife was not so impressed with her lunch either.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #20 - December 13th, 2005, 4:18 pm
    Post #20 - December 13th, 2005, 4:18 pm Post #20 - December 13th, 2005, 4:18 pm
    Thanks pd, that clears things up quite a bit.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #21 - December 13th, 2005, 5:39 pm
    Post #21 - December 13th, 2005, 5:39 pm Post #21 - December 13th, 2005, 5:39 pm
    Vital Information wrote:Yea, it's kinda like LTH in reverse.

    Rob,

    As I've long been on record as ho-hum, at best, far as Bombacigno's goes, and you like the place, simply assures me the the earth is still rotating properly on it's axis.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #22 - December 13th, 2005, 7:40 pm
    Post #22 - December 13th, 2005, 7:40 pm Post #22 - December 13th, 2005, 7:40 pm
    JimInLoganSquare wrote:I also second that nomination. My long-term love and admiration for Bombacigno's Italian beef and home fries are well documented here and elsewhere. The beef does need to be dipped to really enjoy it, as the beef is not particularly flavorful; but the rolls they use are the best in class I've seen used for an Italian beef. Plus you gotta love that staircase, especially now that they are selling beer (openly!)


    Based on some serious rethinking and contextualizing (see my post here), I regretfully withdraw my seconding of Bombacigno's. It ain't bad, and in that area of the Loop, not bad is basically good enough ... but that does not make it great. On a good day, the cottage fries are uniquely delicious, and I still like the Italian beef; but the inconsistencies and in some cases downright awful experiences some have been reporting show that under careful, objective scrutiny, Bombacigno's does not hold up. I'll admit some critical myopia on my own part here, but I don't think I can conscience supporting a GNR for a place that just isn't trying very hard (and can do very well when it tries).
    JiLS
  • Post #23 - December 13th, 2005, 8:33 pm
    Post #23 - December 13th, 2005, 8:33 pm Post #23 - December 13th, 2005, 8:33 pm
    JiLS,

    Admirable on your part. I want to like this place for the many reasons both you and MikeG discuss, namely it is a family-owned enterprise in the franchise jungle. Sadly, as you and W.R.Hearst would say, it could have been better, but it was not.

    Who knows, maybe someone will turn it into a judge/lawyer hangout bar for the nearby new family court building.
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #24 - December 13th, 2005, 9:15 pm
    Post #24 - December 13th, 2005, 9:15 pm Post #24 - December 13th, 2005, 9:15 pm
    Oh fine, JILS. Well, now is when we separate the men from the boys! We have not yet begun to fight, not only for a GNR for Bombacigno's, but for renaming the entire board Bombacignosjandcforum.com! Over? Over? Nothing is over until we decide it's over!

    http://161.58.5.90/animal/germans.wav
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #25 - December 13th, 2005, 9:27 pm
    Post #25 - December 13th, 2005, 9:27 pm Post #25 - December 13th, 2005, 9:27 pm
    Mike G wrote:Oh fine, JILS. Well, now is when we separate the men from the boys! We have not yet begun to fight, not only for a GNR for Bombacigno's, but for renaming the entire board Bombacignosjandcforum.com! Over? Over? Nothing is over until we decide it's over!

    http://161.58.5.90/animal/germans.wav


    Just what I would expect The Man to say.
    JiLS
  • Post #26 - December 14th, 2005, 7:44 am
    Post #26 - December 14th, 2005, 7:44 am Post #26 - December 14th, 2005, 7:44 am
    Mike G wrote:....but for renaming the entire board Bombacignosjandcforum.com!



    Anything you can do to help change the name would be appreciated by many :wink:
    Unchain your lunch money!

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