[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

The Cheesy Italian ($9.50) is Ground Control's play on an Italian beef—that meaty, messy, Chicago original, which I have a serious weakness for. But since this Logan Square establishment is meat-free, the beef is replaced with strips of seitan. Though moderately juicy, the wheat product simply can't quite compete with slow roasted beef that is sliced thinly and bathed in gravy. Luckily, Ground Control seems to recognize that it's not a fair fight and blankets each sandwich in a layer of salty provolone for a little more heft. The restaurant also adds housemade giardiniera, which is a nice touch.

Still, unlike the strange alchemy Chicago Diner conjures up in its kitchen to create the Radical Reuben, this sandwich never manages to escape the shadow of its meaty namesake. But the result is a gooey, cheesy mess, which happened to be what I was craving at that exact moment. I was actually more impressed with the garlic smashed potato with mushroom gravy, which should be a mandatory side for every meal here. Oh, and don't forget to start with Buffalo Style Tofu 'Wings'.

Ground Control

3315 West Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map)

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