The iconic Chicago Italian beef and sausage combo has received an upgrade thanks to a new collaboration between Hot Doug's and Roma's Italian Beef & Sausage, a stand on Chicago's northwest side. They've replaced the traditional Italian sausage in the combo, swapping it out for the peppery and porky Atomic Sausage once served at Hot Doug's. Thus, the Atomic Combo was born, a spicier version of Chicago's venerable sandwich that costs $8.30.
Doug Sohn, who's right now a really excited Cubs fan with a reason to be at every home game, says he's just happy to help bring some attention and customers to Roma's. It was Sohn's sausage supplier at his restaurant, Michael Helminiak of MGH Foods, who came up with the idea for the combo, as Helminak also supplies the meats for Roma's.
"It's just different enough — like I said, I think [Roma's homemade] Italian beef is really good and flavorful — that this is a little step above the typical beef-sausage combo," Sohn said.
No, a combo doesn't come with a drink. It's normally an Italian sausage topped with Italian beef. Hot or sweet peppers are optional, though Roma's owner Fred Rafidi, advises against the toppings. The sandwich is intense already.
"It's just a burst of flavor, I don't put any peppers," he said. "I like it just the way it is."
Rafidi said demand has been good enough since the combo debuted last week that the sandwich will be a fixture on Roma's menu, or "as long as Doug still feeds me the sausage." The Atomic Sausage has earned a permanent place at Piece Pizza, where it's used as a topping on the Atomic Pizza. Sohn is happy to work with other restaurants on a case-by-case basis if they have a delicious idea that would benefit from Hot Doug's sausages.
"If I can help a small, independent business, I am thrilled to do it," he said.