Au Jus in Parma is More Than Capably Keeping Up With Cleveland's Demand for Italian Beef Sandwiches

The shop is going through more than 100 pounds of beef every day

click to enlarge Serving sizes are... not small - Photo by Doug Trattner
Photo by Doug Trattner
Serving sizes are... not small

The timing could not have been better for partners Jakob Kelly and Tiffany Ballog, who opened Au Jus in Parma on the heels of this summer’s viral hit “The Bear” on FX. Clevelanders who had been clamoring for Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches finally had a place to go where those drippy hoagies took center stage.

Cleveland has never been blessed with options when it comes to great Italian beef sandwiches, with the bulk of the action taking place at the deli counter of some local Italian grocers. There clearly was pent up demand because Au Jus has been positively slammed since opening the doors in November, says Kelly.

“My location never stopped being busy,” he told me. “We’ve been 10 times busier than we thought it would be.”

Wedged between a Marco’s Pizza and a nail salon in a dinky Parma strip, Au Jus is a small, mainly carry-out shop with a handful of stools and an open kitchen. During my visit, every one of those half dozen seats was occupied by a customer waiting for food while the tidy stainless kitchen was a beehive of activity.

After seeing some pics early on, I wasn’t super optimistic about the sandwiches. But those photos had nothing in common with the beast that landed in my lap. I can’t imagine how much beef is wedged into the “large” given that my “regular” ($9.25) was overflowing with tender, thin-shaved beef. Order it “dipped” and it will be baptized in a font of the namesake au jus. Otherwise, sandwiches come with a large tub of the thin gravy for self-dipping. Make sure to add an order of the giardiniera ($1.10) – or better yet, the spicy-hot giardiniera.

Au Jus features a streamlined menu of “state fair-style” sausage and pepper hoagies, a few pressed sandwiches, fresh-cut fries and exceptional batter-dipped onion rings ($3.99). I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Cuban ($10), a compact package layered with shredded pork, ham, Swiss, pickles and mustard.

When it comes to quality, seek out the places that fly through product. Kelly says that he goes through 100 to 150 pounds of slow-roasted top round beef per day and about 12 gallons of au jus, which is made from the drippings.

“I’m going through so much product, it’s unbelievable,” he says.

Au Jus
5875 Broadview Rd., Parma

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Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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