Al’s Beef makes wish come true for Michigan boy
October 4, 2019

Photo by Amy Rothblatt
Left to right, Michael and Jennifer Pavan, Phil Rosenthal, Chris Pacelli, Jack Pavan, Lily Rosenthal, and Mason Pavan, at Al’s Italian Beef.

“Now this is how you eat Italian beef,” said Chris Pacelli, “especially when it is soaked in gravy.” He leaned forward, over the counter of his Al’s Italian Beef #1, and took a huge bite. Then another. Not a drop on his shirt.

Pacelli had a wide-eyed audience, in particular two young boys, on Sept. 14 in his Near West Side location at 1079 W. Taylor St.

As Jack and Mason Pavan ate beef and sausage, a Netflix crew filmed the boys reuniting with the host of the Netflix television show Somebody Feed Phil, Phil Rosenthal. The co-creator of the television show Everybody Loves Raymond, Rosenthal now travels the globe sampling local cuisines. He and the boys first met in Los Angeles, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Jack, 11, had wished to meet his favorite television star, Rosenthal. Make-A-Wish made that possible. They became fast friends, along with Jack’s brother, Mason, 9. They are such good friends that they got together again in Chicago at Al’s Italian Beef #1.

“This is an experience,” Jack said as he made his way through a juicy sandwich. He describes himself as a “foodie,” and said he likes all kinds of food.

Hailing from Plymouth, MI, Jack had never eaten the beef sandwich that ranks among the highlights of Chicago cuisine. His mother, Jennifer, shared his delight in the Italian beef. Mason opted for Italian sausage, as did their father, Michael. They also asked for more fries.

“I love them,” Rosenthal said as he greeted the boys like old friends. He and his daughter, Lily, shared hugs with the family.

Pacelli smiled widely as he gave the boys Al’s Italian Beef t-shirts, hats, and sunglasses. He told them he hopes they enjoyed their sandwiches enough to make a return trip from Michigan.

Rosenthal was heading on to New York, London, and Morocco to film additional segments of Somebody Feed Phil for its third season. He is based in Los Angeles.

The Phoenix-based Make-a-Wish Foundation carries out life-changing wishes for children.

Pacelli’s uncle founded Al’s Italian Beef 81 years ago. It has operated at the Taylor Street location since 1963 and counts additional locations in Chicago and the suburbs.

For Al’s Italian Beef, call (312) 226-4017 or log on to For more about Somebody Feed Phil, log on to For the Make-A-Wish Foundation, log on to

—Susan S. Stevens