Deep in the beating heart of what is probably America’s politest state lies an edible contradiction. The Hot Dago sandwich of St. Paul, Minnesota, is a humble, honest, working class Italian-American dish that has been appearing on menus since the early 20th century. But the word “dago,” a slur long slung toward Italian-Americans, also enrages some customers, particularly people visiting from out of town. First, the sandwich: Like most folk food, there are aspects that are uniform, variations that give restaurants its identity, and long-standing arguments over which is tops in town. At its core, a Hot Dago is an Italian sausage patty between two slices of bread, almost always topped with marinara sauce and melted cheese. Some places add pepperoncini. Some use mozzarella, some provolone, some a blend. Some add onions. Some go for a mild patty, others amp up the heat until it’s got a palpable kick. Some toast the bread aggressively, or add garlic. One thing that nearly every Hot Dago restaurant has in common: Italian-American ownership.Dusty’s (in Northeast Minneapolis, one of the few non-St. Paul Dago establishments), they proudly boast: “Dusty’s Bar and Dagos.” Their version is essentially a sausage hamburger, without the splash of sauce,… Read full this story
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