Editor's Note: In this great city of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year--so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the Windy City. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know!
Typically when I think of breaded steak in Chicago, I think about the sandwich from Ricobene's, but I'm often reminded that there are other options. Avanti Caffe is an Italian lunch spot right down the street from the Willis Tower, and at least half of their menu is dedicated to sandwiches. The Calabrese ($5.99) features breaded steak, green bell peppers, mushrooms, and provolone stuffed into a panini. This is a huge sandwich for six bucks, enough for two people, which is refreshing to see in the Loop.
The steak itself is flattened and breaded, and isn't particularly beefy tasting; its pale color is similar to pork tenderloin. The melted provolone is perfect with the slightly bitter bell pepper, but the mushrooms are of the canned variety, which is a bit of a questionable choice. I'm a fan of the crackly bread, hot off the press, which adds a great textural component to the whole package. While the sandwich is good by itself, you can elevate it by ordering a side of Avanti's solid marinara sauce, because that way you have a really close approximation to a solid veal parmigiana sandwich.