It seems that every city and town in New York has its own specifically tasty food, a delicacy that’s specific to the region. For example. I say Binghamton, you say chicken spiedies. I say Rochester, you say garbage plate. I say Utica, you say tomato pie. I say Syracuse, you say salt potatoes. I say Buffalo, you say chicken wings. I say Plattsburgh, you say Michigans (which apparently are some variation of a hot dog with hot sauce and onions).
I say Albany, you say … um … raspberry dipping sauce for Mozzarella cheese sticks? Freihofer’s cookies? Maybe a NEBA sandwich if you can find a Mr. Subb that makes them properly? Steamed Hams? Oh, wait, that’s a Simpsons meme reference…
Well, folks, I believe there’s an Albany-centric food that is available all around the Capital District … and it’s quite tasty.
May I introduce you to the Italian Cheeseburger.
The Italian Cheeseburger consists of two beef patties, cheese and French fries all packed into a long bun, like a hoagie roll or a grinder roll. Served with extra French fries on the side.
The Italian Cheeseburger is available at almost any independent mom ‘n pop fried chicken place in the area, including Pearl Fried Chicken on South Pearl Street, Crown Fried Chicken on the corner of Central Avenue and Henry Johnson Boulevard, and Albany Halal further up Central. In fact, any place that has really good deep-deep-deep-fried chicken also sells Italian Cheeseburgers.
Now these are not to be confused with Italian Cheeseburger Subs, which are popular in New Jersey. Those are are served on long sub rolls and contain tomato and lettuce, but not French fries in the bun. Plus, New Jersey still hasn’t figured out whether one of their luncheon meats is named Taylor Ham or Pork Roll, so let’s not discuss Jersey right now.
I mentioned the Italian Cheeseburger to my buddy Jerry Papandrea (he does the DerryX YouTube videos where he tries to find decent chicken sandwiches in the area), so maybe he’ll do some deep-dives into the Italian Cheeseburger phenomenon.
That being said, I may start reviewing the local Italian Cheeseburgers sold in the area, and try to find the best one available – in terms of taste, convenience, cost and comfort.
This does NOT mean that Chuck Miller has turned into a “foodie.” I am no food snob. Trust me, a person who still has an affinity for the delicacy known as Spam Stroganoff has no problem devouring a tasty Italian Cheeseburger.
And neither should you.
In my 70+ years in the Capital District, this is the first I’ve ever heard of an Italian Cheeseburger.
But I’ll take a homemade Spam, lettuce, tomato, sliced onion w/ mayo sandwich on white bread ANY day. Takes me back to my yoot.
We had a short-lived eatery on Congress St. in Troy that had the Italian cheeseburgers. I tried it one night. Delish, as Rachael Ray would say. No one else in downtown Troy has them.
Spam Strogonoff – please do share the recipe, Anthony Bourdain must have missed that one!
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