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Chicago Italian food

New Year’s resolution #3: Dine out more! My Trattoria Gianni review

 

There is something truly fascinating about Italian comfort food classics made with passion and executed well. Can it be the thick sauce, cooked for hours and mastered to perfection? The quality ingredients that come together to create homemade delight, much like mamma used to make? The inspired pairing with regional wines, which join in with the food to epitomize a glorious dining experience? Maybe it’s one of these things – or maybe it’s all at the same time. What I do know, especially after having dined at Trattoria Gianni recently, is that one-of-a-kind culinary experiences must be replicated to keep one’s soul and belly happy, especially on the ever-changing, sometimes frigid Chicago weather 😉 That’s why I have decided to dine out more this year, and to try to strike a balance between my professional and family commitments, and my restaurant visits. Here’s resolution #3 – and here’s to a year full of great foodie discoveries and amazing eats!

I visited Trattoria Gianni one cold end-of-year night – such a difference from the sunny afternoon when I first stopped here for dinner, a couple of summers ago. Keep Reading

My recent BlueStar pizza class experience: the science of pizza, revealed in a cooking space like no other

Chefs Leo Spizzirri and Susan Swanson during the BlueStar pizza class

Chef Leo SpizzirriΒ  is a man of a phenomenal energy and charisma, and what keeps him motivated is something most of us enjoy: pizza πŸ™‚ He talks fast, his hand gestures are broad, and his eyes light up whenever he shares stories from his past as a pizzaiolo certified by the International School of Pizza or as a consultant for some of America’s largest pizza manufacturers. What he’s most passionate about, however, is his current job as a pizza instructorΒ at the North American Pizza and Culinary Academy (NAPCA) in Lisle. Do you ever think about what goes on inside your pizza? About the chemical reactions among the ingredients? About the stress level applied to the dough? If you’d like to find out more about the science of pizza, meeting ChefΒ Spizzirri is a must. Believe me: you will not be disappointed.

I met Chef/instructor Spizzirri when I attended the BlueStar pizza class held at NAPCA, which Chef Spizzirri manages along with his business partners, Chefs Anthony Iannone and Renee Gabbett. This is a full review of my experience – and what an experience that was! 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 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