In January, I took a little road trip on a Saturday to check out Beverly Records. It was 45 minutes away with no traffic, all while still being in the confines of Chicago. I knew if I was going to travel so far south, I might as well search for some Grocery Gal adventures. I took my iPhone, located Beverly Records, scrolled outwards and searched “deli,” then “sausage.” I knew something good was waiting for me on the south side. That’s when I found it: Sausage by Rosario. The video below sums it all up.
I’m going to cut to the chase. If you love nostalgic Chicago neon and delis like I do, you MUST go to Rosario’s now. Why? Because who knows how much longer they’ll be there. The building is for sale and the shelves are a little bare when compared to their heyday, but they make some outstanding Italian sausage, beef, and Pizza Setups: a brilliant concept completely new to me.
I loved how it was as much of a museum as it is a deli. It seems like most folks shop at Rosario’s for fresh sausage and beef to cook at home, or order food for catering and carryout. Sandwiches are made to order, or you could grab a homemade frozen meal to go. They offer a $10 t-shirt featuring the artwork of their amazing sign (where pigs happily jump into a meat grinder), so of course I had to pick up one!
While I waited for my turn at the deli counter, a family ordered two Pizza Setups. What was that, I thought? Well, for less than $10, you get 3 thin crusts, pizza sauce and a pound of mozzarella cheese, and for a little more you can add sausage or pepperoni.
I guess pizza setups are something fairly common on the south side, yet unfortunately have been kept secret to all of us northsiders… and frankly, I’m mad. Why? I can’t eat pizza dough (or cheese for that matter) anymore, and this would’ve probably been one of the best thin crust pizzas I’ve ever had. Why couldn’t I have decided to go to Beverly Records before I had all these dietary restrictions?!?!
When cooked, their pizzas look and smell like the thin crust pizza I grew up with as a child. I have spent years (seriously) searching for its modern day equivalent. Marie’s on Lawrence is close, as is John’s on Western and Pete’s Pizza #2 on Montrose… but some secret ingredient in the sauce or crust always missing. Well, Rosario’s sauce and crust combination (I didn’t get to eat it, but I smelled it in my kitchen and heard my family’s reaction as they ate it), must’ve been that thin crust pizza utopia I was hoping to find and enjoy myself.
Normally, when I visit a location I feature on Grocery Gal, I don’t interact with the owners. I wanted to hear a little more about Rosario’s history and introduced myself to Cathy, the owner. I told her how the sign is what brought me to the deli, and she told me it’s featured in a new book on Chicago neon called Good Old Neon (When I came home I ordered a copy of the book – it’s fantastic!).
When I came to visit, it was the beginning of a very restricted diet I was (and currently still) am on. My mouth was watering, but I couldn’t eat the pizza (per rant above) or the spices within the sausage. I told Cathy, about my dilemma, and like a pro, she said, “why not try the Italian beef?” Brilliant! I grabbed a pizza setup for my husband, some sweet Italian sausage (they offer sweet, mild and spicy, which I could freeze and eat a few weeks later) and some thinly sliced Italian beef with au jus that I was going to heat up as soon as I got home.
Cathy made a very important point during our conversation: small businesses have a hard time in the current world of huge chains. There are customers that come once a year, and while she appreciates that business, for a small business like hers to survive nowadays requires more frequent patronage. That’s why I say stop at Rosario’s now, to support a wonderful family business that’s a part of Chicago’s history. I’m complaining on missing out of their pizza with my restricted diet, but at least I got to try their amazing beef, sausage and got to meet Cathy. I’m planning on heading back soon, too, as my family is still raving about their pizza setup. Make sure you go sooner than later; and grab a pizza setup, too!