The Bari Italian

Michael Nagrant / 02.29.08

It would seem that a man who wore a Jason (of Friday the 13th) mask for a living and took more than a few discs of frozen rubber to the head during his career isn’t the best person to take food advice from. But Tony Esposito, the Chicago Blackhawks hall of famer was, in hockey parlance, a serious grinder. And as it takes one to know one, Esposito definitely knows his grinders. His framed signed picture hangs in the back of Bari Foods, an Italian grocery brimming with tinned cans of San Marzano tomotoes and gleaming jars of pickled goods, praising the house giardiniera

Take your cue from Tony and make sure you get the spicy pickled relish on the Italian sub. The Bari Italian is best in its honest purity. There’s no grilled thinly sliced kobe beef, pungent blue cheese, truffle oil, or creamy unpasteurized cheeses anywhere near this sandwich. Instead, it is a workman’s special, a lunch bucket foundation built on freshly baked airy Italian bread from the D’Amato’s bakery next door. The yeasty perfumed loaf is wrapped around hand sliced deli fare like a ruddy capicola streaked with neon orange paprika, peppercorn-flecked Mortadella, pliant provolone, and garlicky Genoa salami. Slices of sharp red onion, translucent tomato and ribbons of crunchy iceberg lettuce dressed in oil and vinegar, a touch of creamy mayo, pepper spiked relish and a verdant speckle of oregano and basil crown what may truly be Chicago’s best sandwich.

Bari Foods

Address: 1120 W Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 (map)
Phone: 312-666-0730