The 3-1-2 is rocking it in the 6-1-9! Lefty’s Chicago Pizzeria brings the the taste of Chicago to San Diego. Known for its great food, Chicago has its fair share of iconic dishes, the Italian Beef Sandwich, the Chicago Dog, and Stuffed and Deep-dish pizzas. The Chicago Dog has earned a spot as one of the top five hotdogs of all time. The stuffed and the deep-dish pizza departs from the norm and goes thick rather than thin.
Hot dog royalty, the Chicago dog takes a top spot in the hot dog all-star lineup. The two main elements of this dog consist of a steamed sesame seed bun and an all-beef frankfurter. The dog gets dressed with yellow mustard, fluorescent green relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, a kosher-style pickle spear, sport peppers, and a couple of shakes of celery salt.
The steamed bun feels soft and warm to the touch with very little give. The hot dog has a beef flavor with a good snap when you bite through the natural casing. Tomato wedges and the brine of the pickle counter the acidity of the onions. Sport peppers provide a sting, and celery salt adds a bit mystery; you don’t experience celery salt that often, but when you do it gets your attention.
Vienna Beef holds the distinction of the premiere frank for a Chicago Dog. They not only make the hot dog, they make the iconic bright green relish and sport peppers. Next time you do a cookout, Vienna Beef offers a 16 count Chicago Style Hot Dog Kit, just provide the tomatoes, pickles and onions, your guests will love it.
Deep-dish pizza cooks in a round, metal, cake-style pan, allowing it to form a crust with tall sides. The pizza’s toppings appear in reverse order: dough, cheese, fillings, and sauce in that order. Slices are available in the case at Lefty’s so you can shop around to find what you like best.
The stuffed pizza takes the deep dish a few steps further. More ingredients, especially cheese, then a top crust brushed with sauce. This monster takes forty-five minutes to an hour to cook. Everyone should experience this at least once, call ahead and pick one up. Lefty’s says the stuffed pizza has eight portions, and one slice should be enough for most, unless you have teenagers.
Italian Beef Sandwich
The Italian beef sandwich was recently cast into the spotlight on the popular television series The Bear. This sandwich consists of slow-roasted beef sliced thin and served au jus (with juice). Order the sandwich one of three ways, dry, wet, or dipped.
When you order a “beef dry,” the meat is pulled from the cooking liquid, allowed to drain, then placed in the roll. Order a “beef wet,” the meat goes straight from the broth to the roll, allowing a lot of the juices to soak into the bread. Ask for a “beef dipped,” and the entire sandwich goes back into the liquid, making the whole thing a bit soggy, double dip if you dare.
The “beef dipped” necessitated a new eating style to avoid dripping the whole thing down your front. To perform the “Chicago Lean” you spread your legs and lean forward over the counter, preventing the sandwich from dripping down your front or onto your shoes. Next you need to decide, hot or sweet? Hot comes topped with Chicago-style giardiniera, sweet with sauteed green Italian sweet peppers. The last decision, Cheese or no cheese? If you choose cheese they add shredded Mozzarella and allow the heat of the sandwich to melt it. My order was a “Beef, wet, hot, mozz,” which translates to an Italian Beef, served wet with Chicago-style giardiniera and mozzarella cheese on top.
Lefty’s gives you an authentic slice of Chicago in San Diego. They have two locations, one in Mission Hills and one in North Park. The mission hills location on Goldfinch brings back memories as it used to be Phil’s BBQ.
Deep dish is not my go-to pizza, but it is damn good and such a fun way to switch things up. The Chicago dog takes its place as my favorite style of dog, and Lefty’s does a good one. I order mine with a polish sausage rather than the Vienna hot dog because I like the flavor and the snap to the casing. The new season of The Bear is coming soon, so grab some Italian Beef and “Let it rip.”