Update (6/2015): Red's has closed. The owner notes that she is looking into starting up a food truck.
For a while there, I guess my entire adult life, I was finding myself in Chicago somewhat regularly, eating. Chicago is a fantastic city, like no other I've visited, and it has a great food culture. While many may think "hot dog" when they hear Chicago, or worse yet, "deep dish pizza" (an abomination by any reasonable barometer), I think "Italian beef." This is because of the undeniable fact that Chicago Italian beef is one of the greatest sandwiches ever invented. I'd say it even comes close to the roast pork Italian coming out of Philly. Close.
Unfortunately Chicago Italian beef isn't easy to come by in the NY/New Jersey area. We did have J's Beef in Linden for a brief moment, but after they closed up I figured we were left with nothing. And we were, until recently.
A place called Red's Dips and Flips opened in West Caldwell. You heard me: Red's Dips and Flips. And damnit if they aren't serving Chicago Italian beef. And I suppose flips, too, whatever they are.
For the uninitiated, a Chicago Italian beef is sort of a twist on a French dip. It's a mass of thinly sliced roasted beef, which has been cooked in some stock and garlic and herbs, with a crunchy celery/vegetable/hot peppers/oil condiment called giardiniera, served on a hero roll, and then, if you order correctly, the whole mess is dunked into the jus for additional flavor and wetness. It's a sloppy, messy, freaky sandwich, and my goodness it's heavenly.
I stopped in for a quick sandwich a while back. I'm happy to report the sandwich was pretty darned good. If I have one critique, and this may sound bizarre to those who equate quantity with quality or value, but there was too much beef, and too little giardiniera. The giardiniera was pretty good, but it was mostly celery based. Which is fine, but I recall the sandwiches in Chicago having a bit more going on in the giardiniera department. Overall this was a fine representation of Chicago Italian beef.
They also have a Chicago style hot dog (I'm not sure if they're using Vienna beef dogs), if you're so inclined.
So here we are, with Chicago Italian beef right here in New Jersey.
Red's Dips and Flips : 800 Bloomfield Ave : West Caldwell, NJ : 973.226.BEEF