Naturally, things are different this year with Visit Champaign County’s Restaurant Week since there’s an emphasis on takeout in 2021. As such, I was happy to check out a truly grab-and-go sandwich option at Lincoln Square Mall staple Baldarotta’s Porketta & Sicilian Sausage, as their offerings were pretty wide ranging and right in the wheelhouse of this event’s scope in 2021.
I visited the restaurant on Wednesday, doubled-masked and bundled up ready to take home what I knew would be a plentiful offering, given the fact just a few weeks before I saw our Food + Drink Editor Alyssa Buckley post about this monster. I’ve had Baldarotta’s a few times prior to this, pre-pandemic, but not nearly as often as I’d like given its relative location to where I live, so in true Restaurant Week fashion, I wanted to make more of an effort to get to a restaurant I don’t often go to but enjoy.
Wednesday was the best day that worked for me, and their offering was a straightforward one with a bit of a twist: a classic Roast Beef & Swiss. Throughout Restaurant Week, Baldarotta’s is offering a different sandwich each day, which has its pros and cons. I like the variety of offerings, though you would be out of luck if you couldn’t get over there on your sandwich-day-of-choice. Not to worry though, as I’m sure navigating the pandemic and an event like this has its challenges. I had a feeling that the goodness wrapped up in this paper was going to be worthwhile.
This sandwich came on a beautifully toasted French bread roll, which is somewhat key to this whole thing working out for you in a lot of ways. I kept hoping that despite the juicy beef and melted cheese cramming the inside of this bun, there’s sogginess potential. No one likes to hear that word associated with their food, ever. I live about 15-20 minutes from the restaurant, and when I got home and picked up this lug out of the bag (which is an awesome feeling with this type of sandwich density), I was happy to see the bread was still super crisp. This texture is a key component.
Though their offering doesn’t include fries, I decided that was my best path forward here, so I paid the extra $1.25 to make that a reality. As you can see, the sandwich was tight and compact, though I promise I’ll stop focusing on this because the anticipation of eating this was too much for me to manage. The sandwich was served with roasted cremini mushrooms, onions, a cranberry-horseradish sauce, and a healthy side of au jus — not one of those small-ass Dixie cups of au jus you might get elsewhere. We’re talking perfect sandwich dipping depth.
This is one of the more straightforward, classic sandwich offerings by the restaurant this week which provides a nice on-ramp for those that might be less adventurous than others. I could be wrong, but barring vegetarians and vegans of course, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like a classic French dip, and this is just that with some nice additions. The cranberry horseradish wasn’t overbearing as horseradish can be too pungent at times and takeover the whole offering. Cremini mushrooms wouldn’t be the first vegetable that would come to mind, but boy were they good, sliced thin like the beef, as a great compliment to it.
As far as price point goes, this is the most expensive (relatively speaking) of the specials throughout the week at $13. But when it comes down to it, this is definitely a sandwich that could be eaten in two sittings, not just one. For me, that’s the beauty of takeout: you can have leftovers if you truly want to and not have to haul a box home with you in the process. Or you can be like me, and just go for it.
I found the sandwich to be filling and a nice play on a classic, making the midweek dinner a satisfying one. You’ll have to make your own choices with the rest of the remaining offerings, but I can assure you it’ll be some of the most bang for your buck of the week, whatever you end up getting.
Baldarotta’s Porketta & Sicilian Sausage
300 S Broadway
T-F 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 7 p.m
Su noon to 3 p.m.
Top image by Patrick Singer.