I drove past Il Milanese in Lincoln Square the other day, which reminded me that that was a place I’d already forgotten, or not heard much about to make me want to go. John Kessler has a very good reason to do so: white truffles.

This North Center spot quietly replaced the former L&M Parkside at 2201 W. Montrose Ave. in April and has flown under the radar in a city where Italian restaurants sprout like dandelions. This one, from a trio who met at downtown’s long-shuttered Bice Ristorante, is like the northern Italian restaurant you used to love in 1995 before you had ever heard the word “burrata.” There’s a fine osso buco served old-school with saffron risotto and a pick for the bone marrow, and a barely-dressed arugula salad with shaved parm, lemon juice, and bits of fried artichoke. The housemade pastas tend toward creamy and taste just fine. The regulars love this place. More than a few hugged one of the owners, Carlo Maggi, who was tending the door.

I’m eager to try it, though I’m also compelled to offer my own white truffle suggestion: Osteria Langhe, where I went on my birthday 4 or 5 years ago, and the truffles rained as if from heaven.


Nick Kindelsperger mentioned he had a few pieces left in the Trib’s CMS when he left, and here’s one of them, about middle eastern restaurant Sifr:

Few of Sifr’s dishes will surprise anyone who has been to a Middle Eastern restaurant in the past 10 years. But the flawless execution might.

Start with the astonishingly smooth hummus. To reach the desired consistency, chickpeas are soaked overnight, pressure cooked until “almost overcooked” and then processed in a Robot Coupe, a machine specifically designed to create luxuriously smooth hummus. “That’s what I used in Abu Dhabi, and it really helps,” Sethi said. The dish also gets a drizzle of zhoug (also spelled zhug), an herb and chile sauce, and a sprinkling of za’atar, a complex dried herb and spice blend.


Steve Dolinsky visits Anelya, of which I will have more to say below:

For the last 10 years, Parachute has indulged Beverly Kim’s love of her Korean culture. She and her husband, Johnny Clark, recently closed their other restaurant down the block, and transformed it into Anelya, named for Clark’s Ukrainian grandmother.

“I wanted to do something that was related to myself, that could showcase my own story,” he said.


Among the people lining up for hours at that new McDonald’s concept, CosMc’s, in Bolingbrook was Louisa Chu, who gets what she and the readers apparently dying to hear all about this place deserve—a long wait for lame Mickey D’s food:

Savory hash brown bites, however, won for the most insulting menu item. Four pieces for $2.39 — that’s about 60 cents for each limp piece of former potato. The order does include one dipping sauce, but the alleged spicy queso sauce is nothing more than what one might find on gas station nachos. What’s so puzzling is that McDonald’s hash brown, with its crunchy crust, is one of the great fast-food items.


Five new taco spots from Titus Ruscitti, including solving a mystery—I tried twice to go to an interesting-looking place west on Fullerton called Tepalcates, but they were always closed even when some guy was inside painting, with no clue whether they still existed or not. Then I noticed the same name on a place on Belmont not far from me (again, no clue that they had moved, or were even necessarily the same place. Titus has a few details:

Next stop had a short lived life west on Fullerton before moving east into Lakeview. A quick peek at the taco options and I put this spot near the top of my tacos to try list. They have all the usual suspects plus lots of regional and house special offerings including an octopus rubbed with al pastor seasoning. They do carne en su jugo too. The guy that runs this place is really nice and so are the tacos. The Suadero is a bit shredded as opposed to chunky so it lacks a bit in texture but hit the mark in flavor. I’ve been waiting for tacos gobernador to take off the same way quesabirria has but it’s been a slow liftoff. That said I see it on offer more than ever so it’s trending up. A taco gobernador estilo Sinaloa is sauteed shrimp with peppers, onions, tomato, melted cheese. It’s basically a shrimp quesadilla which are underrated. Plump shrimp and melted cheese between a corn tortilla is a pretty perfect pairing. Even if those aren’t up your alley they offer a quality product up and down the menu.


Gaoku is a Japanese-Thai spot in Ukrainian Village. Here’s The Infatuation:

The menu has two short hot and cold sections, and they’re both full of hits. Hotate sashimi and flavors reminiscent of tom kha come together in a refreshing scallop dish with coconut dashi and lemongrass. Perfectly fried and juicy karaage is paired with tangy Thai curry aioli.


Umamicue is a pop-up inside the Logan Square bar Spilt Milk, run by Charles Wong, whose life changed when he ate Texas barbecue at Franklin Barbecue in Austin. Michael Nagrant talks to him:


You’ve included some Vietnamese and the Asian style influences at Umamicue. Growing up around char siu and Vietnamese food, how did you draw on that, if at all, relative to the Franklin stuff. Or did it not matter at all?


I guess I hate to use this word fusion because it gets such a bad rap in the media but if you really think about like, back in the 50s, you know, when the banh mi [sandwich] was coming out, they probably were like, oh, this is fusion, because it was, like, inspired by the French, you know, or like, the noodle was invented by China, and now it’s synonymous with Italian food.

So, we’re all taking influences from different cultures and making it our own. I always thought about how I wanted to do something unique. This was something LeRoy and Lewis (a new school Austin bbq spot) inspired me to think about.

By the way, I’m heading back and forth from my car to feed the fire on the smoker, so if you hear some stuff, it’s just, that.

8. 312-88

Dennis Lee speaks highly of 312 Fish Market, in 88 Marketplace:

Look at that fish—it’s so well carved that what’s left is like a stained glass window (if it were designed by H.R. Giger). The filet is carved expertly, and the fish itself is firm, meaty, and not too oily, which is something mackerel can be. It’s lightly dressed with lime juice, and we enjoyed half the pieces bare, the others lightly dipped in soy sauce.

I went there some months back, and generally liked it, though something bugged me and John Kessler expained what it was—Chinese-owned sushi places tend to season the rice overly sweetly.


Maggie Hennessy has a piece on the duo behind Nine Bar, inside Chinatown’s Moon Palace, at WBEZ:

Nine Bar announces itself with a small exterior neon sign with Chinese characters. Walk inside, and just to the right of the small carryout counter at Moon Palace Express you’ll see a security-guarded door. The space used to house a formal dining room with recessed lighting, Chinese lanterns and cherry wood accents. Now incense wafts lazily through a moody, neon-lit speakeasy featuring a long bar, low banquettes and stools, and pulsating French pop and modern hip hop.


What’s a Flæskesteg sandwich? Sandwich Tribunal is just the guy to ask, especially since I only heard of it from his very tasty Tweet pics about it:

Flæskesteg is made with a skin-on cut of meat, scored and salted, roasted hard to develop crisp cracklings, also known as pork rinds. The cracklings are, according to every source I’ve consulted, a non-negotiable feature of a Flæskesteg roast. According to Adamant Kitchen, there are 3 main cuts of pork used for Flæskesteg in Denmark: the loin (Svinekam), the side (Ribbenssteg, very much like a thick cut of pork belly), or a piece cut from the back near the neck (Nakkekam, which seems to be a shoulder cut similar to coppa with a thick fat cap and rind but I’m not entirely sure). In my area, without using a bespoke butcher, there are only 2–well, let’s say 2.5–cuts of pork I can easily find with the skin still on them. Those are pork belly and a ham (with the .5 being a picnic ham).


I get 10,000 suggestions of products for my holiday gift guide, which Fooditor has not and will never do, but the Reader did one that’s not bad, asking some local food folks for ideas.


Once Michelin-starred Dusek’s in Pilsen is closing at year’s end; the building it’s in, Thalia Hall, remains a popular music venue, so that’s kind of a big hole at street level, so it won’t be empty for long. A story at the Trib has a few more details.

I really liked the mantu at the Afghan retaurant Helmand, and did my best to spread the word about this mom and pop which deserved more attention. I hope it isn’t gone for good, but it has announced a temporary closure on Facebook.


En Process says it’s a new podcast “sharing stories of resilience and passion by providing a space for inspiring conversations.” It also appears to be the followup to the (defunct? split up?) Kimchi Kids podcast, by Thomas Oh and Andrew Lim of Perilla restaurant. Anyway, they’ve already got half a dozen shows with Chicago restaurant folks in the bank, so check out chats with Jason Hammel, Zubair Mohajir of Wazwan, Steve Morgan (who was a somm at Alinea and other places)—and more to come.

Michael Muser at Amuzed talks to Brian 636. Who’s that? Well, he shoots videos on his motorcycle, roaming the south and west sides, mostly, and also has a series called “Hood Eats,” which visits barbecue and taco stands and the like. So he’s the epitome of the new media creator who is famous in his niche (wonder what that’s like?). Let’s put it this way—I mentioned him to my son, who is both a gearhead and a fan of south side barbecue joints, and his response was “Yeah, I’ve seen that guy before. Good stuff.”

And Joiners has been on a tear, with the latest two being Christine Cikowski (Honey Butter Fried Chicken) and Kevin Boehm (Boka Group), both of whom are past guests for Fooditor roundtables, so you know they have interesting things to say.


I usually find a night to eat Eastern European, mainly Polish food, at some point in the winter—it’s hearty and filling, though not particularly artful or innovative. Polish food is Polish food, which makes something like this listicle kind of absurd. (You want pierogies and potato pancakes? Go to the one closest to your house—the pierogies probably come out of a box labeled “Kasia’s” anyway.)

Ukrainian food is not Polish food, but the same principles apply (what are vareniky if not pierogi? They’re probably even the same word, etymologically). I grew up with a bit of Ukrainian food in my family’s recipe book (we aren’t ethnically Ukrainian, but one side was German Mennonites who lived and farmed Ukraine in the 19th century).

So again, hearty food but not stuff distinguished by cheffiness… unless chefs start making it. Which is the case with Anelya, the new restaurant from James Beard winner Beverly Kim and her chef husband, Johnny Clark (Parachute). His family was from Ukraine, unlike my family of migrant farmers, and after Wherewithall, their much-loved-by-me farm to table restaurant, closed for a second time (once for COVID, once for a busted water main) and they just didn’t have the will to reopen it a second time, they decided to try a Ukrainian restaurant in the same space, after doing a Ukrainian pop-up last winter (which I tried here). I knew I wasn’t in Ukraine, or even Kansas, any more when dishes I recognized the names of were described like this:

saffron, potato, jowl bacon

duck, smoked pears, cultured cream

Yeah, that’s not how my great-grandmother, or even my watched-Julia Child-mom, made borscht. Certainly not with pears, or anything that starts with “cultured.” Even jowl bacon (otherwise generally known by its Italian name, guanciale) seems a bit more upscale than the head cheese, or whatever cut of pork leftovers that would have been more typical.

Yet, I wondered what it would taste like—pear? Peking duck? In fact it had an unmistakable borscht-ness, meaty and slightly rustic, even as it had a delicacy to it that was new. That describes a lot of the things I had at Anelya—one foot in centuries-old farm food, one in fine cooking skills. A multi-level serving tray lit up with Christmas lights brought us our choice of zakusky, appetizers, like carrot pashtet, a pate of smoked carrots (similar to, yet different from, one at Daisies), or sunflower seed hummus with black garlic (I thought it was olives or chopped plums, a very Ukrainian ingredient at first). Halushki, braised, pulled short rib on chewy dumplings with huckleberries (fruit is common in Ukrainian dishes). Lokshyna, structurally built like lasagna (again, maybe an etymological relation) but minus all Italian-ness—so farmer cheese and a little black truffle.

Desserts are lush in that part of the world—the French influence in upper crust families in Russis and adjacent places, I think—so we had a chocolate-cherry cake, and another one layered with hazelnut gianduja, but the most Ukrainian-seeming had plums in spiced wine and whipped sweet cream and a layer of chocolate ganache; I wondered if it was a take on pluma moos, a dessert whose name was often used around my house (though did we ever actually have it? I can’t remember) but my mom says pluma moos would never have chocolate in it. Well, not in the 19th century on a farm, for sure.

I was talking with someone the next night who was curious about Anelya, but a little unsure about checking it out because they didn’t recognize any of the dishes. But that’s always true when something is new; we didn’t know what Mexican or Japanese or Thai dishes were, until we did. The food at Anelya is new, perhaps, though less new when I say that vareniky are pierogis, but in any case the dishes are pretty much what they’re described as being—it’s straightforward food, and not one of those menus where a dish says “cardamom, gravlax, paper” and you have no idea if it’s a soup or an entree. It seems to be doing good business—full by the end of our meal on a weeknight—but I suggest going there soon. It’s something new, and the season is right for it.

Fooditor will be off for two weeks, but return on January 7.