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 | Illinois | Lincolnwood | Mexican11 Apr 2017 10:24 pm

Our visit on April 10, 2017 confirmed that Wholly Frijoles continues to offer some of the best Mexican food in the Chicago land area. This week’s special mixed meat and seafood grill included shrimp, skirt steak, chorizo,  salmon, chicken and vegetables along with the usual guacamole, pinto beans and rice with tortillas – WOW! reservations are not accepted, but you can call to be placed on their waiting list at dinner time – it is worth the wait.

Family owned by an ex-Lettuce Entertain You employee, this is a special place. It’s BYOB.

I decided to check the place out in October 2004 since they expanded – the quality remains well above average and the dishes are well prepared/creative. Since I was dining alone, I have stocked numerous half-bottles of good red wine for just such occasions – the meals here are worthy of good wine.

My favorite is their chicken specialty of the house which is served with mashed potatoes – carbs are worth it here! The person at an adjoining table was a chef and was there to check it out as well – looks like the restaurant’s name is getting around. This is also the perfect place for a small get together or celebration. The service is personal but not pushy – so far I know no waitperson’s name (hope they keep it that way – they usually don’t want to see my family videos or photos either).

Anyway, give this place a try – we need to keep it a successful family business.
$

3908 West Touhy Ave.

Lincolnwood, IL
(847) 329-9810

BYOB

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.

A Recent Favorite | Chicago | Illinois | Pizza14 Mar 2004 11:58 am

Antique lovers, come on over! The owner of this north side institution continues to offer an extremely wide variety of foods so everyone can have what they want. This is one of my favorite al fresco spots for thin-crust deep-dish sausage pizza; sitting among scores of architectural antiques on a warm evening offers one of the best opportunities to enjoy this one-of-a-kind place. Indoor seating is also quite impressive with hundreds of antique light fixtures and statuary.

Late night hours until 1 am Sunday – Thursday and 2 am Friday and Saturday.

$$

2727 West Howard Street
Chicago, IL 60645
(the farthest north part of Chicago, a little over a mile west of Lake Michigan)
(773) 338-2166

A Recent Favorite | Chicago | Fast Food | Illinois | Pizza30 Oct 2003 06:11 pm

You won’t believe the Italian Sausage sandwich (or combo).
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