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Chicago dining

My review of Square Roots Kitchen: when food geeks meet fast casual!

Tucked away on S Halsted Street, in an area burgeoning with stores and restaurants in the heart of West Loop, lies a new dining spot that has got Chicagoans talking. The name of the place is Square Roots Kitchen, the style is fast casual, and the food is wholesome. The restaurant sells salads, wraps and bowls that can be customized to suit one’s lifestyle and dietary needs, bringing health-conscious consumers face-to-face with cutting-edge technology in an ambiance which is both comfortable and minimalist. Did the West Loop need yet another restaurant? Having visited Square Roots Kitchen (SRK), having sampled their food and understood their unique approach, my answer is a resounding “yes” πŸ™‚

I went to SRK one cold winter evening. It was one of those evenings when I would have gladly stayed home, tucked into bed and indulging in a cup of hot cocoa – as you know, frigid weather has never been my friend. Keep Reading

My review of Vapiano Magnificent Mile: Come for pizza, stay for more!

Somewhere on E Ontario St, in the heart of the Magnificent Mile, lies a new dining destination for those who need to grab a bite in-between shopping sprees this holiday season. The name of the restaurant is Vapiano, the ambiance is casual, and the food is fresh: give me a slice of their pizza, and I’m a happy camper! Recently I was invited to the grand opening of this new location (the second Vapiano location in downtown Chicago), and this is a review of my experience. It was a party which started early in the evening and ended around midnight, and we celebrated with balloons, red ribbons and lots of bubbly – and of course, plenty of food to go around πŸ™‚

Vapiano is an international chain of restaurants which offers made-to-order Italian food in a relaxed atmosphere. Keep Reading

My Angelo’s Wine Bar dining experience: I went to Rome and back!

The Angelo’s pizza: a slice of Chicago history!

I watched La Dolce Vita a few nights after dining at Angelo’s Wine Bar. I’d felt like in a dream at Angelo’s, and now I wanted to go back, to be in Rome again, following in the footsteps of Marcello and Sylvia as they wandered through a city that was as mysterious as it was opulent. Being a guest at Angelo’s truly felt like being in Rome. Far from the skyscrapers of the city, in a neighborhood where style and comfort meet, here I was, savoring every moment of one of the most beautiful nights I’d ever experienced. Why face the crowds, the impossible parking and the stress downtown when you can enjoy quality food in your own neighborhood? Oh, what a gorgeous night – and what a gorgeous restaurant πŸ™‚

My high expectations were surpassed the minute I set foot in Angelo’s Wine Bar in Albany Park. Once you get past the newly added 700-sq ft outdoor patio and into the restaurant, you enter a tastefully decorated sharp and sleek interior, which puts you in a good mood. You expect excellent dishes to match such interior design – and the eclectic menu created by executive chef Julia Helton is the perfect match. Keep Reading

Hard Rock Cafe Test Kitchen menu review: heaps of Chicago inspiration, loads of delicious food!

The folks over at Hard Rock Cafe surely work hard to please! They want to know what music you like, the first live concert you went to, and what you make of their dishes – and they want your feedback delivered raw, spontaneously, and straight to their faces. I definitely like this no-nonsense approach: what’s better than an honest opinion, delivered on the spot? I like the approach – and I like the HRC food even more 😉

I recently got the chance to taste several dishes from theΒ Hard Rock Cafe Chicago Test Kitchen menu, which showcases HRC’s commitment to locally inspired and responsibly sourced ingredients. It was an amazing night, filled with good jokes, great food, and karaoke performances – and here’s my review of this experience. Keep Reading

My review of Forno Rosso Pizzeria: pizza or panuozzo? I’ll have both, thank you! :-)

Give me tasty Italian food, and I’ll love you forever – this seems to be my foodie life’s motto. Indeed, nothing gets me more excited than the opportunity to spend time enjoying the delights of Italian cuisine – panini and beyond 😉 – while out and about in our beautiful city. Splendid in its rusticity and profound in its flavors, Italian cuisine is a work in progress to me: I enjoy learning about it, I enjoy tasting it, and I never miss an opportunity to learn and to taste even more.

I recently got an invitation to try the food at the Forno Rosso restaurant in the West Loop, and the invitation mentioned something about panuozzi, a form of street food which comes from the Campania region of Italy. A panuozzo (plural: panuozzi) is made by using pizza dough to make a type of panino, which is then filled with various ingredients and is baked in the wood-burning pizza oven. As a big panini lover and self-confessed foodie, I was intrigued by the concept and definitely wanted to give it a try, and this is why I accepted the invitation and took my friend Marina along to experience Italian dishes made the authentic Neapolitan way.

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My review of Trattoria Gianni: Italian culinary classics await on the patio!

Italian cuisine is love, pure and simple. The kind of love that rubs your senses with unadulterated pleasures and fills your belly with a hearty simplicity. The kind of love that comes from someone – be it mother, grandmother, friend etc. – who wants to see you well-fed and happy in a world filled with worries, tension and uncertainty. The kind of love that puts together classic ingredients on the kitchen table and goes on to create food which celebrates life and stays true to it.

I know that kind of love. We’re not Italians, but my mother-in-law epitomizes the classic image of the Italian matriarch, with her passion for honest food and desire to see us well-nourished and content. Every time she cooks she has to have us try her food, no matter what. Had lunch already? She swears she’ll only give you “one tablespoon of food, no more.” Of course, her understanding of “one tablespoon” is different from the generally accepted one: we get big portions of wholesome dishes, brimming with meat, sauces and all the right spices. Food made out of love – and so yummy πŸ™‚

I had the chance to reconnect with traditional Italian cuisine recently, when my friend Marina and I were invited to a tasting of Italian classics at Trattoria Gianni. Keep Reading