On Sept. 5, 2010, my life forever changed. I ate a breaded steak sandwich from Ricobene’s in Chicago. Here’s what I wrote a few days later:
When I finished, I stumbled out to the curb, dizzy and delirious. A couple of cops pulled up, and instinct told me to run — I felt like I had just done something illegal. I couldn’t, though. I couldn’t bring myself to leave the front of the restaurant.
I knew I had to leave Chicago the next morning, but I tried to consider ways I could have another breaded steak sandwich before I did. I thought about walking back in and ordering another right then even though the coma was already setting in.
Not knowing what else to do, I tweeted a few nonsensical things. Playing with my phone gave me an excuse to keep standing there.
It started raining. I kept standing there. I knew I probably looked like a crazy person. I didn’t care. I was a crazy person. I was standing outside a restaurant, right next to a live-poultry market and under the freeway overpass, in some odd area of a city I don’t know because I couldn’t tear myself away after eating an inconceivably good sandwich.
Some three and a half months later, my mouth still waters whenever I remember that sandwich. The tender breaded steak, the sweet marinara, the fiery giardiniera, the cheesy cheese. Just thinking about it frustrates me now because I can’t have one whenever I want. I try to think of excuses to get back to Chicago. I’m pushing my wife toward pursuing a residency there. The sandwich was that good.
Sometimes I wonder if I could reproduce it myself at home. I have a deep fryer, after all, and certainly I can make marinara. A bunch of places online will deliver hot giardiniera. After bbilko suggested in the comments section that I make Sept. 5 a TedQuarters holiday, I targeted that as the date I should attempt the sandwich. Problem is I want one sooner. Could I pull it off? Would it even come close to the original?
Doubtful. That was one hell of a sandwich, the best I ate this year and among the best I’ve ever eaten. The only reason it fell to No. 3 on the Top 10 Things is that I only had one of them and I destroyed it so quickly, fleeting wonderment. Also because it set the bar for other sandwiches unreasonably high. Someone please open a Ricobene’s franchise in New York.