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Neapolitan Pizza in Chicago: Spacca Napoli

30 Oct

Looking for some solid Neapolitan-style pizza on Chicago’s north side? Spacca Napoli is a good option.

We started off with a grilled vegetable plate – a generous amount of grilled eggplant, red and yellow peppers, and zucchini.

Spacca Napoli

The grilled octopus was alright. It came as a a couple large pieces, so it was bit more challenging to eat than most other presentations I’ve seen.

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The pizzas are where Spacca Napoli shines. The Neapolitan-style pizzas are all sized to suite one person. They are so good you probably won’t want to share anyway. There are many options, including a couple of daily specials.

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The disappointment of the night was the Peaches Vesuvio we ordered for dessert, which was I suppose more of a misunderstanding than anything. I thought that the peaches would be fresh, but they are not. The menu says “Peaches (Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio)”, meaning they are jarred peaches from the national park in Italy. Though they may have originated from Italy, they tasted like run-of-the-mill canned peaches from around here…I expressed my disappointment to our server, and he graciously took the dessert off our bill.

Info: Spacca Napoli Pizzeria, 1769 W. Sunnyside Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640 USA
Spacca Napoli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pearl’s Southern Comfort, Chicago

9 Oct

I‘ve been to Pearl’s Southern Comfort in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood three times now – the food is delicious, there are good beer and cocktail options, the service is friendly and attentive, and I like the ambiance. Pearl’s also has a rooftop deck that opened this past summer that serves up drinks and bar bites. Pearl’s is busy, but I’ve never had to wait for a table. Plus. the bar has a couple of good screens for watching the Cubs game.

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We love the boudin balls,  delicate fried dough balls filled with sausage and a bit of rice.

Pearls Southern Comfort - Boudin balls

The catfish bites are lightly battered pieces of flaky fish.

Fried catfish bites

The gumbo is so flavorful, packed with dark meat chicken, sausage, and okra. (This photo was taken after we had already devoured half the bowl!)

Gumbo

Hubby ordered the shrimp po’boy. The fries were extra crispy.

Shrimp po'boy

I had the blackened catfish which was nicely done. It was served with collard greens, and the only disappointment of the night – the mac n’ cheese. Which, unfortunately, was a huge disappointment. I ordered the catfish partially because it came with a side of mac. However, this was probably the worst restaurant mac n’ cheese I’ve ever tasted. It kind of made me wonder whether the restaurant had run out of real cheese, and came up with this Kraft dinner / cheese whiz concoction instead. It tasted so bad, I couldn’t eat more than one spoonful of the mess.

Blackened catfish

Luckily, the fantastic banana bread pudding redeemed the night. This gigantic dessert was epic. Don’t attempt to finish this on your own, this is a dessert meant for sharing. It’s soft, sweet bread layered with banana and served on a plate drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. There were hints of rum in there as well.

Banana bread pudding

 

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The Final Word: Overall, Pearl’s severs up excellent Southern food, and it’s a great place for a date or dinner with friends. The only thing I’d wish they’d change is the mac n’ cheese. 

Info: Pearl’s Southern Comfort, 5352 N. Broadway Street, Chicago, IL 60640 USA

Pearl's Southern Comfort Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Great Mole, but Skip Everything Else – New Rebozo, Chicago

4 Jul

Based on good Yelp reviews and a recommendation from a colleague, hubby and I decided to check out New Rebozo. Let’s start with the highs of the dining experience. Or should I say the “high”, singular. That was the mole fiesta, a plate of six enchiladas each covered with a different mole sauce. From left to right: classic chipotle chocolate, pumpkin, cinnamon, macadamia, guava, almond. My favorites were the pumpkin and the chipotle. The guava was to sweet for me but my husband really liked it. Overall, a very rich, filling, beautiful, and delicious entree.

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Now on to the rest: The guacamole was good, but overpriced at $10 for an ice cream scoop-sized serving. And , my husband’s famous guac is better.

New Robozo - guacamole

 

Shrimp ceviche was beautifully presented, but otherwise nothing to write home about.

New Robozo - ceviche

 

The chicken tortilla soup was beautifully presented, but odd – everything was arranged in the bowl, sans broth at first. And then the server poured into the bowl at our table…while the micromanaging chef/owner presided, providing additional instructions to the nervous server in Spanish. Somehow, the soup did actually pack some flavor, but it wasn’t really my style I prefer my own chicken tortilla soup recipe! (To be posted next week!)

New Rebozo - chicken tortilla soup

Speaking of the chef/owner – he greeted us as we entered the restaurant, and introduced himself again soon after we sat down. Hubby thought his white chef’s jacket was  too pristine – should it not be slightly stained from an evening’s work in the kitchen? But Chef was busy showing of menu items to us and other diners on a tablet. Certainly a tad unconventional but not a huge deal.

What was a bigger deal was the huge disappointment named Shrimp Tacos – the shrimp were overdone and rubbery, the tortillas were stiff and stale, and there was too much green sauce – perhaps an attempt to moisten the hard tortillas.

New Rebozo - shrimp tacos

Meanwhile, the chef/owner stopped by our table to check in with us constantly – Yes, we’re having a fine time, yes, the soup is fine, ok,  I already shook your hand three times already, and can I please just get back to a conversation with my husband?

So, at the end of our constantly-interrupted, meal, we weren’t really craving dessert. But by “Checking in” on Yelp, we could redeem a complimentary jalapeno ice cream.  It turned out to be a chocolate ice cream with a spicy kick. It was unique, but honestly, I’d prefer just a plain chocolate ice cream. I didn’t get much out of the spicy, burning sensation in my throat.

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The Final Word: Overall, the moles were delicious, but everything else was forgettable – I’d certainly like to forget the strange service at this place. 

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Info: New Rebozo, 46 E Superior Street, Chicago, IL, 60611 USA

New Rebozo Chicago Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicago Restaurant Week 2016: Catch 35

21 Feb

For Chicago Restaurant Week at the end of January, hubby and I decided to check out Catch 35, a slightly splurgy seafood spot near the river. During Restaurant Week, you can nab some pretty good prix fixe deals at top Chicago restaurants, and Catch 35 offers two dinner options – a $33 menu and a $44 menu.

Ambiance-wise, Catch 35 has a bit of a personality disorder. It’s a very long restaurant, and the front section evokes a bit of a classy jazz lounge/bar feel. There’s a shiny black grand piano surrounded by high top tables with views out the front window towards the water. A long bar stretches towards the back of the restaurant. Across from the bar are a few casual-looking tables positioned fairly close together. After the bar comes a brightly lit display case showing off fresh cuts of fish, and a few more tables. It’s like you’re in a fancy fish market. Walking deeper into the restaurant, you then go up a few steps. It’s here that you’ll find probably the best and most comfortable tables. There are a few booths on one side, and tables for four on the other. Then up a few more steps, and now you’re officially in the largest section of the dining room. Maybe it’s going for a fine dining feel, but it’s more like 90’s hotel meets Senior’s night.

Despite its confused look, Catch 35’s food is anything but. Everything is plated nicely, and more importantly, tastes pretty awesome.

Catch 35

Kicking off the start of a fantastic meal, my husband started off with a creamy and flavorful lobster bisque.

Catch 35 - beet salad

I got the beet salad, which was a huge portion with tons of beets, topped with creamy goat cheese and crunchy pistachios. 

 

Mahi

For my entree, I had the perfectly cooked mahi mahi served over roasted root vegetables and red grapes (part of the $33 menu). Catch 35 has a pretty good wine selection, and I had a terrific and sweet riesling from Mosel, Germany that went well with my meal.

 

Brussel sprouts

We shared a ginormous side of roasted Brussel sprouts, and also the short rib hash (not pictured). Actually, we probably didn’t need the side dishes – our entree portions were well-sized, but we just couldn’t resist. With a name like Catch 35, you might be tempted to stick to seafood only, but the short rib was fantastic. I highly recommend the short rib hash, or any other dish with short rib in it. 

 

Chilean sea bass

Hubby got the Chilean sea bass – yum! (part of the $44 menu).

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We each got our own molten chocolate cake for dessert. It was soooo good, though very rich. One portion would have been enough to share!

The Final Word: Solid seafood and wine selection. The service could be more attentive, and the decor is not the most chic, but I would come back for the nicely prepared dishes.

Info: Catch 35, W. Upper Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601 USA

Catch 35 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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