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

 

Chicago | Illinois | Italian08 Jan 2017 12:00 pm

This Andersonville spot boasts an extensive menu with good cooking – and portion sizes easy to share. Bread plate and salads that accompany entrees will convince you to forego appetizers. Always daily specials including wines. Wait staff is attentive and table busing impressive (but you may have to slow down plate removal – ask to wait until all in your party have finished eating); pasta entrees usually justify a take home container.

Many thumbs up for this landmark restaurant in a trendy neighborhood.

Free parking across the street next to the bakery.

Calo Restaurant

5343 North Clark Street

Chicago, IL 60640

(773)271-7782

 

Chicago | Illinois | Main | Tony's Top Ten26 Mar 2015 07:32 pm

This East Rogers Park spot brings sophisticated tapas to a  restaurant desert – not too much around except the spots on Granville and of course The Waterfront Cafe in the summer. But this place deserves a top rating using any criteria you can think of (like great food freshly prepared, reasonable prices, and an upbeat atmosphere).

The tapas we have tried (and loved unless a comment is made below) include:

  • Gorgonzola mushroom sauce over corn cake
  • Brussels Sprouts sauteed with dried cherries and bacon with balsamic glaze
  • Jalapeno Gnocchi ( light as a feather)
  • Twisted eggplant (this is one of my favorites)
  • Chicken meatballs (a little dry but tasty)
  • Stuffed mushrooms with Monterrey Jack, spinach and tomato sauce
  • Stuffed chicken breast
  • Chicken and potato curry (another favorite)
  • Grilled beef skewer (tender and juicy, cooked to perfection)
  • Beef tenderloin with blue cheese sauce (scrumptious)
  • Spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette, tomatoes, red onion and feta
  • Beet salad
  • Salmon with Panko crust with tomato tapanade

 

Wine and beer choices are sufficient (try the German Riesling and California Meritage, and the stout)

Parking can be an issue, but a little bit of patience always works – and be careful to observe the non-parking areas between the 4-6 PM rush hour.

You can look on Facebook for special deals.

1146 West Pratt Boulevard

Chicago, IL 60626

(In the Loyola University neighborhood)

Closed Mondays

(773)856-3486

BBQ | Chicago02 Nov 2014 12:00 pm

MK opened this specialty BBQ spot to showcase (in my opinion) his culinary skills and creativity over a wide range of food styles.   BBQ spots have become  ubiquitous in Chicago recently with the opening of many spots – including MK’s. But this is the real thing with pork ribs smoked to perfection – and the pulled pork and beef brisket follow not too far behind. Sides are exceptional (sweet potato fries, garlic fries, collard greens, burnt cauliflower, and several others). This place is close to the U of I medical center and gets very very crowded after  6pm every night – with limited seating capacity a wait should be expected unless you arrive earlier (open daily at 11:30 am and closed at 10 or 11 pm). No wine served here – but good beer choices and bourbon if that’s your thing.

MK deserves your support as he is a big booster of Inspiration Kitchens (see my review).

Parking can be a challenge but you can usually find a street spot east on Taylor (don’t forget to feed the meter). There is a parking lot if you enter through the alley behind County BBQ for a fee. Street spots go for $3 per hour. If you plan to hang out on Taylor Street the lot would be a good option.

1352 West Taylor

Chicago, IL 60607

(312)929-2528

BBQ | Chicago | Illinois10 Oct 2014 01:58 pm

The absolute best authentic BBQ in Chicago – and maybe in North America.

This small spot on Chicago’s far North side has been around for only a few years, but from the very start they have offered BBQ smoked in a vintage smoker on the premises. Choices included beef brisket, pulled chicken and pork, pork ribs, and sausage links – large and small plates are available with two half portions of two of the meat choices. Four types of BBQ sauces are made on the premises and available for purchase. Nice salad large enough to share is a good choice to go along with the meat(s); sides include potato chips and cole slaw (even cornbread to go along with the honey on the table). This is a BYOB spot – but their soft drinks and iced tea come with free refills. Be prepared to sit on tables or picnic benches – the place is jumpin’ on weekends so be prepared to wait. Takeout is also a big part of their business. Park on Western Avenue and don’t forget to feed the meter.

If you like BBQ – you will love this place. Michael Pollan would be proud of this place (check out his discussion of BBQ methods in the USA in his book “COOKED”).

6954 North Western Avenue

Chicago, IL 60645

(773)675-1410

Chicago | Illinois22 Aug 2014 04:20 pm

A special place on West Irving Park serving exceptional food with extensive wine, beer and cocktail choices.

Our first visit choices were a bean salad with chickpea puree, and the garden salad – both were good choices.

Their menu typically includes 7 large plates (fish, chicken, pasta, tofu, grass fed burger and steak) along with a charcuterie (pate’, sausage, ham) and cheese selections from small (USA) creameries.

Although a bit out of the way, it’s worth a try. Street parking mainly as parking lot is very small. A bit noisy but charming decor.

3732-34 West Irving Park Road
Chicago, IL 60618

(773)866-5266

Chicago | Italian | Melanzane07 Feb 2014 01:59 pm

Trullo moved from Evanston about 6 years ago, and has been serving well prepared and flavorful food since day one.

Appetizers are among my favorites -  recently enjoyed homemade sausages on a bed of fava been puree (enough to share) and Melanzane with marinara sauce (cooked al dente with fresh tomato taste).  My dinner companions shared the baked salmon with broccoli and rice with shrimp on the side; we all shared a generous side of Rapini (tender and moist). Nice wine selections by the glass with generous pours. Bread is baked on the premises so the aroma of fresh bread (crusty and doughy) is always in the air – rich olive oil is imported in casks from Italy and the parmigiano is shredded (not grated).

This is a beautiful place with large bar area and seating capacity to accommodate a large crowd – even a small private table near the entrance.

Trattoria Trullo

4767 North Lincoln Avenue

(West on Lawrence from the Outer Drive, as you approach Western Avenue look carefully for Lincoln on the left  – metered street parking)

Chicago, IL 60625

(703)506-0093

Chicago | Illinois10 Dec 2013 12:57 pm

Michael Kornick, chef/owner of MK the restaurant on Franklin Street, hosted a tasting menu last night at a benefit for the Lake Street location of Inspiration Kitchens. The Inspiration Corporation offers cooking and food service training at this and an Uptown location, as well as operating a soup kitchen type sit-down restaurant in Uptown where clients are served with respect and choose menu items of their liking. Michael started sponsoring this organization over 20 years ago and continues to pay back to the restaurant community by helping provide a training ground which creates jobs and assists students in arranging housing, completing the course work, and eventually being hired as line chefs and servers in some of Chicago’s finest restaurants.

Now to the tasting menu.

The appetizers of chicken liver pate and cornichon (mild and flavorful pate which was not over-powering), butternut squash soup served in a small glass with chive, cumin and chili oil (drinking it out of the glass pronounced the chili oil flavors), and salmon tar tare with capers, tarragon and fennel were all surprising (as most of MK’s cooking).

Wild & seasonal mushroom pot pie with rosemary and thyme with a flaky top crust was complex and tasty – salt did not mask the gentle flavors of the various fungi.

The warm goat cheese salad included caramelized shallots and marcona (Spanish) almonds. The goat cheese was rolled into a ball, and rolled on to crushed almonds and toasted/baked for 4 minutes at 350 deg F (I will try this myself).

The main course of smoked & roasted Berkshire pork loin was seasoned with cinnamon and brown sugar and smoked at Micheal’s County BBQ restaurant on Taylor Street, then roasted on site on Lake Street. The loin was served with granny smith baked apple, savoy cabbage, prune and stone ground mustard. I will definitely try the cinnamon and brown sugar flavors on my next pork tenderloin and remember to cook it less well done. This dish has an Alsace influence  – the chef’s 1984 visit to the Alsace region brought this to his repertoire. In fact all of the dishes on the tasting menu were influenced by his travels between 1982 and 1985.

The pecan caramel tartlet with creme fraiche was recently on his County BBQ menu (only taken off recently because of a new local partnership with a pie baker). His policy is to not offer any item on his current restaurant menus at such events – he is always looking for new tastes to offer his lucky patrons.

Conclusion: thanks, Michael for such a wonderful evening. Also thanks for trying my 2012 CA Syrah (and not commenting after you tasted it – I am assuming the best).

Inspiration Kitchens
3504 West Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60624
(773) 801-1110
http://www.inspirationkitchens.org

Chicago | Illinois | Italian | Melanzane20 Sep 2013 04:58 pm

Great little place near the Chicago River and Wrigley Building & Trump Tower for delicious Milanese di Melanzane sandwiches (and others) as well as great pizzas. The Eggplant alla Parmigiana is also good. Wines available by the glass. This is a family run business and deserves support – it’s right next to a McD – and location superb. Al Fresco dining weather permitting, but last time I was told that alcohol was not allowed outdoors. Anyway, give this place a try.

405 North Wabash
Chicago, IL
312-755-1255
Bongiorno’s website

Chicago | Illinois | Italian | Tony's Top Ten30 Aug 2013 12:00 pm

Still one of the best restaurants in Chicago – last visit was wonderful with pasta tasting menu to accommodate my fish allergies although seafood fest was in full swing – but other 3 diners enjoyed the standard seafood themed dishes. Wine choices are of course exhaustive and somewhat pricey (but this is a heavy-hitter kind of a place); nevertheless, I did some homework and found a wonderful Gattinara (my fondness for friends in Alba near this wine region makes it  special for me) and Barolo by the glass.

Service was more than excellent, timing was perfect from 730 to 1100 pm (we were celebrating), and everyone in the place is professional.


Our favorite for special occasions; also try the cafe’.
The tasting menu in the cafe’- with truffles (when in season) and selected wines – is a must.

One Magnificent Mile
980 North Michigan Avenue, Second Level
Chicago, Illinois 60611
(312) 280-2750

Southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Oak Street

Their web site has information about their specialty dishes, as well as excerpts of other reviews of the restaurant.

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