Best Bites: Braciole at Jimmy's Place in Forest Park

It's not fancy. It's solid home-style Italian.

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By David Hammond

On Wednesday night of last week, I took my daughter to Spiaggia on Michigan Avenue for her birthday. It was her choice, and I’d never been, though I’d heard a lot about this innovative Italian restaurant, a favorite of President Obama’s, which recently garnered a Michelin star.

We had some excellent food, including a raw minced lamb with truffle, veal ravioli topped with fine threads of fried veal breast, and guinea hen wrapped in pancetta. Spectacular in many ways.

Jimmy’s Place in Forest Park is operating at the opposite end of the dining spectrum, offering homey rather than haute cuisine. No less satisfying though in very different ways.

We’ve been eating braciole (usually pronounced bra-shoal) at Jimmy’s for some years. It’s a family favorite.

Braciole is a flank steak, usually pounded and rolled around a mixture of breadcrumbs, Parmesan, herbs, pine nuts and sometimes raisins. It’s slow-cooked, so the threads of meat become tender yet remain chewy. This rolled flank steak at Jimmy’s is served in a red sauce with mostaccioli.

Braciole is not fancy; it’s home-style cooking, and it’s a fine way to render an inexpensive cut of meat tastier. Thorough slow cooking, it’s also a very effective way to make a lean and potentially drier and tougher piece of meat soft and flavorful. Because it’s lean meat, it’s low in fat.

Braciole is more Italian American than European Italian. Like Italian beef, Braciole is a dish you'd probably have a hard time finding in Italy.

Because it’s a meal more commonly found at home than in a restaurant, braciole is equally hard to find on restaurant menus. At Jimmy’s, the listing for braciole is put in boldface, because although it’s not being served in a home, braciole at Jimmy’s is a house favorite...especially at our house.

 

Reader Comments

7 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Fred Tamburino from Oak Park   

Posted: December 28th, 2011 2:20 PM

Flank Steak is $7.00 a pound when I purchased it last week.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 27th, 2011 11:19 PM

Parent, Jimmy's Place is very kid friendly, yes, a family place. I went there with wife and two daughters, and most tables seemed filled with families, who themselves were filled with holiday cheer. It was one of the warmest restaurant vibes I've had in a very long time.

Parent  

Posted: December 27th, 2011 1:16 PM

Very kid friendly too.

JGeil from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: December 27th, 2011 1:07 PM

Jimmy's is my favorite place to grab a bite and a beer in Chicagoland. Great place, awesome pizza and the folks there are as nice as they come.

Sarah Corbin from Oak Park  

Posted: December 27th, 2011 11:22 AM

Agreed. Jimmy's is comfortable good food. It is a family favorite in our house because the kids are always welcome and they like it just as much as the adults. Their meatballs are also good and the homemade ravioli is fantastico.

Jim M. ( Person Eating Tasty Animals)  

Posted: December 26th, 2011 2:57 PM

David, thanks for the recommendation. I have never tried the Braciole at Jimmy's, but will next time I am in there. A Happy and Safe New Year to you !

Carolyn Berg  

Posted: December 26th, 2011 2:06 PM

It's such satisfying Italian comfort food. I sometimes tell myself I'm going to order something different this time, but it always ends up being braciole - enough for two, or bring half home for tomorrow.

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