Today, we have another restaurant from Rockford, IL making itself known. Philly has the cheese steak. Rockford has the Beef-A-Roo. A local establishment in the area for 40 years, Beef-A-Roo commands the attention it has spent on a great dining experience. I knew Jean Vitale back in the day, although as a child I am sure she really didn’t know me. My sister and I went to school with her daughter, my sister being in the same grade and classes as her. Beef-A-Roo has been in our family dynamic since I can remember and that is no exception when we get the chance to visit when we come up north from time to time.
I have fond memories, going to the Beef-A-Roo located on South Alpine with my father. Conveniently located to the route we took going home after a day of golf at Ingersol, we would often stop without letting my mom and sister know. Shhhh, don’t tell them. My father and I would enjoy a quick bite of juicy beef, a large bag of fries each (loaded with the season salt), and to wash it all down, a milkshake (watermelon in the summer). While dining you are always offered mints. Chocolate was a staple, but they have several to choose from nowadays along with wet towelettes. I will never forget these days and memories coming home and saying, we were not hungry. It was something special my father and I would always share and keep secret.
Since we are the subject of food, let’s talk fries. Not all fries are created equally.
They have changed what kind of oil they cook their fries in, but they are just as crisp and beautiful today. Common salt would not do them justice, so they use a special seasoning to top them off before placing these sticks of gold into bags for the masses. This leads me to another memory I still hang onto to this day. I created my own special sauce to dip these wonderful fries in back in the 80’s and have been doing so nonstop, every time we are at a Beef-A-Roo. This sauce has no patent, so Beef-A-Roo, if you are listening, just do me a favor and name my concoction in honor of my father if you decide to make it. Ketchup, their barbeque packets, and the season salt are all you need. I start with a generous portion of ketchup and add a little barbeque sauce for extra tang. To top it all off, sprinkle season salt on top (enough to coat the wet ingredients). Take one of your stiffest fries, mix and enjoy. My fam thinks I am weird, but I swear by this sauce for Beef-A-Roo fries. Don’t forget to sprinkle more season salt on your fries.
Jean Vitale has kept this establishment wholesome, but has updated it at the same time. They still surpass anything you can get at the local chain stores that try to compete and will always be a stop on our craving train when we are in town. I am salivating now thinking about it and that is not good because we don’t get to visit often. So, have some food for me and don’t forget to choose a wonderful flavored shake.