Tag Archives: Italian

Bari’s Subs

 bari chicago olive salad 3rdarm sandwich best in chicago 2015

One of the all-time great sandwich spots in the city.  The meatball sub with atomic giardiniera alone secures Bari’s permanent perch in the top five best sandwiches of Chicago. 

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This place gets wicked busy for lunch, with a line from the deli counter to the door. Or so I’ve heard: my experiences are always at off hours when I can peruse the fancy imported groceries and spend my well earned money.

  

In particular, I like their selection of soda and sparkling water, their many kinds of angel wings and ornate Italian cookies, and the homemade pasta and olive salads. Delivery to my apartment in the neighborhood is always hot and fresh!

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Charlatan

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I’ve lived in the neighborhood for a few years and was a big fan of the fried chicken at West Town Tavern- the restaurant this spot used to house. In fact, I work with Chef Alonso Sotelo who was the head chef at WTT for 10 years! I am happy to report that Charlatan is an awesome restaurant and great addition to the neighborhood.

charlatan west town tavern 3rdarm chicago arthur mullen pasta pigs head boar grilled octopus spaghetti meatballs affogato

charlatan west town tavern 3rdarm chicago arthur mullen pasta pigs head boar grilled octopus spaghetti meatballs affogato

We walked over on a snowy January Monday night for the 6PM reservation we’d made online. It got pretty busy so I’m glad we made that reservation! Etta enjoyed her cocktail made with scotch, and the fact that two of the cocktails names begin with, “Don’t…” She also loved her glass of red.

For dinner we started with the beef carpaccio, which was excellently seasoned and complimented by crispy potatoes, and the grilled octopus, beautifully charred and given a hit of acid from romesco. The big hit of the night, for me, the boring one, was the spaghetti and meatballs. The spicy red sauce and especially the meatballs were delicious.

For dessert we had coffee, hot, and cold espresso poured over vanilla gelato- an affogato. We ordered just about everything except the pig’s head and everything was done very well- the coziness of the room, the flawless service, high levels of execution from the kitchen. I can’t wait to get back to Charlatan!

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Wooster Street

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We drove down from Guilford to Wooster Street to pick up treats for Aunty. We started with pizzas from the legendary Frank Pepe. The next stop was for Italian pastries from Lucibello. It was my first time there but it won’t be my last.

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I don’t think I will be able to come back to Wooster Street without remembering what Lucibello’s calls Cannoli Napoleon. These are “cream horn” puff pastry filled chocolate and vanilla custard, dusted with powdered sugar.

frank pepe pizza new haven connecticut wooster street little italy lucibellos 3rdarm

The Cannoli themselves were classic beauties, filled with sweet ricotta and chocolate bits. And I am still looking forward to my last minute impulse buy of an eclair.

Next time I want to try what other reviewers have loved those flaky, custard filled Lobster Tails! And I’m also bookmarking a box of cookies and their homemade Italian ice.

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Blind Boy Fuller

arthur mullen 3rdarm marcia kostick coalfire mello music pizza chicago

In the afternoon we headed out into a grey, misty Chicago afternoon for pizza. Coalfire, a wood-burning oven pizza place in our neighborhood, specializes in New Haven style thin crust.

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The temperature swung up from the twenties to the forties, and even the dark foggy November afternoon seemed pleasant. The pizza was even better!

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Gino’s North

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Gino’s North is the kind of place that I would have never visited without my friend Rob who was born and raised in Chicago recommending it. Etta, Rob and I took Meghan to Gino’s for a birthday pizza party. The exterior is nothing special, a long narrow building next to Campus Police, under the red line tracks. Inside, however, is one of the most beautiful pizza parlours in the city.

The tables are all circular booths, comfy and intimate. The bar is a historic gem, with a sculpture of a woman in a fountain as its centerpiece. The woodwork and sculpt of the place is top notch. Gino’s North is the kind of place where you want to linger at the bar or booth and take in the ambience. It ranks amongst the classiest old school pizza joints, ever.

ginos north chicago style pizza thin crust tavern style cracker crust peggy 3rdarm meghan rob lamb van leuwen

And that’s where Gino’s North really excels: in the old school pizza. It is no longer common knowledge that there are 2 varieties of Chicago-style pizza, but it’s true. There is deep dish, which Gino’s North offers and I haven’t tried: then there is Chicago-style thin crust, which is where Gino’s North shines.

The crust is cornmeal dusted cracker style, super crispy, the crispiest for this style i have yet experienced. The perfect foil for juicy, cheesy toppings. Gino’s North uses real pepperoni, the kind that curls in the pizza oven. That and the Gino’s Special (sausage, onion, chile, mushroom) should not be missed.

ginos north chicago style pizza thin crust tavern style cracker crust peggy 3rdarm meghan rob lamb van leuwen

Gino’s North operates with a lot of care, from the food to the service. Afterwards we went to Lickety Split for a concrete, dessert Jimmy Hoffa-style.

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Trattoria Stella

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We did a lot of reading about the dining scene in Traverse City and the greater Leelanlau Peninsula before our visit from Chicago. Maybe it was all the mentions of Chef Mario Batali that carried us towards Italian, or just the quantity and enthusiasm of recommendations to try Trattoria Stella: either way, this place is a gem.

Located in the basement of what was an insane asylum, and has been historically preserved, we ate at a private table, in a small, cave-like room, that used to house the asylum’s dry storage. The server assistant joked that when folks ask him what happen to the asylum’s patients, he says they are still here, working.

trattoria stella traverse city michigan 3rdarm farm to table restaurant housemade cheese local seasonal italian

The menu, printed daily, highlights so many fantastic local products, meat, vegetables, cheese, wine. This restaurant is practically a reason in itself to believe a transformation to the American food ways is well underway. Many of the small plates feature parts of animals rarely used, and for only four dollars, we elected for the Chef’s Choice, which that night was small empanadas of pig’s heart enhanced by the acidity of summer’s end tomato.

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Etta had a negroni-esque cocktail that was superbly made. The house-made soft cheese was fantastic and the entrees well seasoned. What really stood out for me was the best panna cotta I have ever had. The server complimented us with small (super small for me, the nondrinker, but a sucker for dessert wine) tasting portions of Moscato d’ Asti, which was the perfect pairing and really made the panna cotta, itself adorned with blackberry and adrift in lime, sing.

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The Rumble

millennium park meghan etta 3rdarm chicago

It’s been hard to work so many hours and still hang out with friends in real life. Most of my days off are either on the road or in front of the computer.

millennium park meghan etta 3rdarm chicago

It made me so happy to get a chance to spend the evening with Meghan! Unfortunately it was the only Monday of the summer that they did not have contemporary music in Millennium Park: instead it was the young adults orchestrating West Side Story.

millennium park meghan etta 3rdarm chicago

That did not deter our plans! Meghan brought amazing wine, as well as spicy ginger beer and special sweet treats for me. The chocolate with mezcal and salt was fantastic. Etta brought a gigantic focaccia sandwich from Bari.

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My favorite part was rolling around in the grass in my blue sweatshirt and laughing with Etta and Meghan.

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Dalou’s Bistro

gelato black licorice dalous bistro 3rdarm

Steve, an owner of the Pinehurst Inn, recommended Dalou’s Bistro, and so that’s where we had our first night’s dinner. It was amazing. Dalou’s is a small family run restaurant built around a wood-burning oven. The pizza was thin crust with delicious homemade sausage: reminded me of home in New Haven in the best way possible.

wood-oven roasted brie 3rdarm dalous bistro washburn wisconsin

By far the best bites I had on my whole Wisconsin winter vacation (and that includes the amazing restaurant Forequarter in Madison) came before the pizza. That night’s special appetizer was wood-oven roasted brie in local maple syrup with blueberries, served with a salted homemade puff of pizza dough. The sweet and salty flavors and perfectly balanced textures of the crispy puff of dough with melty brie and gooey syrupy berries were heaven.

For dessert we had the gelato, also made in house. The flavor was black licorice: it was so creamy yet had the herbaceous anise notes. Amazing place.

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