A Recent Favorite | California09 Dec 2019 05:35 pm

Owner/chef Anthony J. Miceli has created an idyllic spot in the redwoods near Woodacre (the location of Spirit Rock).

The outdoor patio is beautiful, service is great, and prices are reasonable.

The cooking here is exceptional – another carbonara masterpiece. Salmon dishes are a specialty; salads are fresh with local ingredients, and meat dishes cooked to perfection.  Also great for a sandwich or bowl of soup.

625 San Geronimo Valley Drive

San Geronimo, CA

415-488-0105

A great place to stop by on way to Point Reyes.

A Recent Favorite | California | San Rafael09 Dec 2019 05:20 pm

This is one of our San Rafael favorites. Great food and great circuses (worth the visit for the circuses).

We had lunch in between film festival viewings – my chilaquiles were authentic and delicious. Too many items to review here, but plenty for the carnivore and vegetarian. The owner’s distinct style is imprinted everywhere (check out the framed family recipes which are at the heart of their success).

We will return as this is a special place.

1025 C Street

San Rafael, CA 94901

415-295-7990

www.lavierlatinfusion.com

 

A Recent Favorite | Chicago | Italian09 Dec 2019 05:07 pm

This BYOB gem features great Italian cooking with a Spanish influence.

Let’s start with their carbonara – al dente pasta with a light pancetta sauce which sticks beautifully to the bronze cut pasta. The fried calamari is lightly breaded – just as good as any I had in Cagliari (town in Sardinia). The lasagna was light with a rich tomato sauce (reminded us of the Cinque Terra lasagna). The broiled shrimp with side Caesar Salad was also a hit (get the double portion of shrimp for two to share). The $10 Caesar Salad is worth the visit.

Owner Vittorio is the chef and he knows what he is doing.

Don’t be fooled by this obscure spot near Lawrence and Western – in my opinion their quality meets even Spiagia standards at very affordable prices.

5019 North Western Avenue

Street parking – no valet

Chicago, IL 60626

773-561-8442

WWW.imonellichicago.com

A Recent Favorite | Chicago | Illinois | Mexican12 Nov 2019 11:24 am

A five star restaurant with two star prices – Carmen and Veronica have created a truly gourmet experience – every dish created here is almost perfect.

Having discovered their new restaurant just months ago, we have become frequent diners and hosted a birthday party for 25 guests in September (what a success).

The variety of choices is a surprise – especially since all dishes are perfectly seasoned and run the full gamut from vegan to carnivore. Carmen does an excellent job with all seafood – try the shrimp fajitas as well as the skirt steak and shrimp combination. The half chicken roasted on a wood plank with sweet potatoes fries on the side exceeds any roast chicken entrees at the upscale French restaurants – and it’s perfectly seared with a crispy skin. Choose the house salad or soup of the day as your starter (when they have fava bean soup go for it).  The Caldo Marino (seafood in a natural broth) is also a must try.

You get the point – I love this place.

BYOB

5750 North California Avenue

Chicago, IL

(West Rogers Park near intersection of California and Lincoln Avenue)

Closed on Mondays

(872)208-5842

A Recent Favorite | Chicago | Illinois | Italian16 Apr 2018 10:30 am

Classic Italian restaurant. Watch out for their monster portions! Insist on good service and don’t be talked into appetizers galore.
$$

1500 Taylor Street
an old Italian neighborhood now taken over by the University of Illinois at Chicago campus (UIC)
(312) 942-1117

Recent visit was great – had the pasta fagioli  (bean and pasta soup) with bread and olive oil and grated cheese, followed by the most delicious Italian sausage appetizer with sweet peppers and garlic. The appetizer is really big enough for two to share.

A Recent Favorite | Chicago | Illinois | Italian14 Apr 2018 11:36 am

This true/authentic Italian restaurant opened a few years ago and continues to excel on all fronts. The small (and sometimes noisy) place always presents their seasonal menu with extensive choices (I counted at least 10 appetizers) with a half dozen or so pastas and eight entrees. There are usually 2 or 3 fish choices besides calamari, and mussels are creatively  prepared with changing ingredients. You can occasionally find squid ink pasta and gnocchi variations. Pasta is always prepared al dente, wine choices reasonable (quartinos are served and thus fair pours), and staff is efficient and friendly.

5316 North Clark Street

Chicago, IL 60640

(In the upscale far North side Edgewater neighborhood – ParkChicago metered street parking)

773-506-9990

 

A Recent Favorite | Chicago | French | Illinois13 Apr 2018 08:01 am

Bistro Campagne, by the prior owner of Campagnola in Evanston, was an instant success in the NW Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Village. Why it took us so long to try it out is now a puzzle.

The place is French country style in every detail, and the food a cut above. Sharing an onion gratin and steamed mussels was our first step. Several good wine choices by the glass are available and reasonable. Bread served is among the best – crusty French bread served in a partial waxed paper wrap to keep it fresh – most restaurants can learn from this presentation. The French farming tradition was well served by the large glob of real butter.

I tried the wild boar stew served on buttered noodles – the flavors were blended to bring out the mildly distinct flavor of the boar – but admittedly this boar must have had an easy time in the wild. My guests had the pork chop and lamb entrees – the pork raved about but the lamb dish’s only complaint was too many onions (next time the diner should review the ingredients listed on the menu and see if variations are possible).

A shared dessert was very good but I forgot what we had.

$$ to $$$ depending on wine

4518 North Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 271-6100

Subsequent visits in 2017 confirm consistency of this great place.

A Recent Favorite | Indiana | Whiting22 Dec 2017 05:26 pm

This Whiting, Indiana spot is one of my favorites. An extensive menu is the first surprise, followed by wonderful cooking and attentive staff. The location in the industrial town of Whiting may too come as a surprise, but it is readily accessible from the Chicago Skyway by exiting at Indianapolis Blvd. and driving south.

Meat dishes are impressive and pastas great. Daily specials may include a rack of pork chop (looked great – maybe next time). Fair wine pours also priced reasonably.

This town sponsors the annual pirogi fest in August – check it out.

This is a gem of a town right on Lake Michigan – worth the trip for the views!

 

1872 Indianapolis Blvd.

Whiting, IN 46394-1347

(219)659-4444

 

A Recent Favorite | Chicago | Illinois | Italian | Melanzane05 Apr 2017 09:07 am

An Italian gem – varied and extensive menu, great bread, great service and reasonable wine choices with fair pours.

The house salad (enough to share) with balsamic dressing and pecans was fresh – no wilted greens here! The melanzane appetizer was  lightly breaded and topped with just the right amount of tomatoes, garlic, oil and mozzarella. The egg noodle carbonara was one of the best I’ve ever had – I tend to large portions with plenty of cream sauce and pancetta (definitely should have been a shared entree). The grilled octopus with balsamic was OK but tough (not usually a fan but decided to try it so I may not be best judge). Can’t wait to go back and make this one of my regular haunts (this place originally opened years ago on Peterson Avenue and at the time was noted as a real cut above the usual area restaurants – don’t know why I stopped frequenting this place but I’m back).

Via Veneto

6340 North Lincoln Avenue

Chicago, IL 60659

(773)267-0888

Street parking and at adjacent medical building evenings and Sunday

open 7 days

 

A Recent Favorite | California | Fairfax | Italian11 Jan 2014 02:23 pm

Great little spot with wine from casks made to owner’s specifications – both the red and white were good.

Shared freshly made ravioli with pumpkin squash filling – they split the order in the kitchen – always a good sign.

We will definitely be back.

Small spot so reservations would be a good idea during prime dining time.

Fradelizio’s Ristorante Italiano

35 Broadway

Fairfax, CA 94930

(415)459-1618

Subsequent visit in March 2018 confirmed again great food and service.

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