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Chicago-style Italian beef, a secret family recipe, comes to Hazel Park stand


Melody Baetens   | The Detroit News

Windy City favorites like dipped Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago-style hot dogs have found a home inside a Hazel Park ice cream stand. 

Matt & Mo's Italian Beef — formerly a pop-up and food truck — nestled permanently into Doug's Delight this month, serving their family recipe of thinly sliced beef sandwiches alongside the ice cream that the neighborhood spot is known for.

Matt & Mo is Matt and Mo Marzullo, a married couple who have had this business for about five years, since they moved to the area from Chicago, Matt's hometown. Mo is from Metro Detroit. 

While the long, au jus-dipped roasted Italian beef sandwiches like these are plentiful in the 312, it's rarer to see them in Metro Detroit. They come piled with hot "giardiniera" (pickled vegetables) and sauteed green bell peppers. You can choose to order yours dipped in au jus, making it delightfully juicy (and yes, the bread gets soggy but that's part of the experience). They're $10.50; add $1 for Provolone. 

"What makes our Italian beef legit and real is that we roast the beef for four hours, it sits overnight and then Matt hand-slices it thin — and it has to be a special, particular (thinness) or it's not Italian beef," says Mo Marzullo. "It takes 48-hours to make ... it's the real deal."

Marzullo says the 14-spice au jus is a secret recipe from Matt's family that is authentic to Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches. She likens it to Chicago favorite Al's Beef, which is their go-to when visiting, although it's not exactly the same because each has their own recipe. The important thing is not to take any shortcuts. 

"That's part of our life's motto: You never cut corners," she said. "Because people that are from Chicago, they know. They come and see us and they know. They would know if something was different in a heartbeat."

She says Chicago natives living in Metro Detroit are grateful that they don't have to drive the 4-5 hours back to home to get Italian beef anymore. 

Matt & Mo's also serves all-beef, Chicago-style hot dogs on poppy seed buns, which for $5 are packed with a whole pickle spear, slices of tomato, mild sport peppers, neon green not-from-around-here relish and — the best part — celery salt. It's no coney dog, but each bite is bright, briny and crunchy. 

If you prefer, Matt & Mo's also sells Detroit-style coneys for $3.50. 

Doug's Delight was closed when chef James Rigato at nearby Mabel Gray restaurant took it over in 2016, breathing new life into the years-old neighborhood stand. The space still serves as an extra kitchen area for the restaurant. 

(For those craving the juicy Doug Burger that was being sold here last season, find it on Mabel Gray's curbside carryout menu, which is being offered while the dining room is closed because of the pandemic.) 

The plan was to have a big splash and announce a grand opening of Matt & Mo's inside Doug's Delight in early May with new signage, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, they quietly opened instead with curbside service, and later, through the walk-up window off John R. 

"We're just doing our best to promote that we're here," said Marzullo. 

Matt & Mo's Italian Beef is currently open noon-8 p.m. Wed.-Sun. at 24110 John R in Hazel Park. View the full menu at mmitalianbeef.com. Call (248) 307-7970 to place your order ahead of time, or tell them what you want in person (don't forget your mask) at the walk-up window.

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mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens