Dollar(s) Menu

Cheap Date: Rizzo’s French Dip

The Ballard sandwich shop gets in the holiday spirit.

By Nick Feldman November 25, 2009


When they opened their Ballard sandwich spot this summer, the Rizzos were serving around 100 sandwiches a day but still not quite breaking even. After the weather turned this fall, that number dropped. Nonetheless, Rizzo’s French Dip is giving back to the community this Thanksgiving. This afternoon until four, the shop will be handing out free sandwiches to street youth who swing by—no small donation, considering they plan to hand out 150.

There’s only one thing on the menu at Rizzo’s, and the only choices you’re allowed to make are “full or half” and "cheese or no cheese." But the sandwich, like the pint-sized restaurant, thrives on its simplicity. The hours might be sporadic—it took me a couple of tries to show up when they were actually open—but walking inside feels like visiting a family friend’s kitchen. Being greeted with a “Hey boss, what’ll ya have?” only completes the image.

Though each sandwich comes with a small side of mac salad, the lack of distraction lets customers focus on the main show: meat. The beef is roasted in-house, hand sliced, and then left to simmer in its own juices and carrots, celery, garlic, and the proverbial “secret ingredients”—and the Rizzo’s concentration on this one very key detail makes all the difference.

With a $10 bill, I made the only choice there was to make: an original sandwich with swiss cheese. The bread was wonderfully thick and soggy, the meat hearty, and the side of mac salad an accent that didn’t distract from what I came to experience: a French Dip.

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