Cardiologists everywhere breathed a sigh of relief last November when Big V's Burger Joint closed its doors for good. Actually, Big V's didn't have doors. That was part of its charm. One of several small eateries inside University City's now-defunct indoor Market in the Loop, Big V's wasn't much more than a cash register and a couple of grills, but from this humble setup owner Vito Racanelli and his staff turned out burgers that weren't simply great for their location or for their price or for their style — fast-food-thin patties, stack 'em high — but, simply, great. Beefy, juicy and, yeah, greasy. What more could you ask of a hamburger? Best of all was "The Animal": three patties with barbecue sauce, roasted jalapeños and — well, hell, once you bit into one of those jalapeños, it didn't really matter what else there was. Vito and his wife, Michele, have since opened Onesto, an excellent casual Italian restaurant, and God knows how many arteries have been spared now that "The Animal" has been retired, but every time we see one more slick chain-restaurant burger creation, we still mourn Big V's — the rare example of a food we take for granted done exactly right.
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