The crisis is mostly over and people at magazines are moving along. Susanna Homan, editor in chief and publisher of Chicago magazine, and an ally of Michael Ferro from his days funneling all of Chicago media, is leaving Tribune Co. to become—this is interesting—the CEO of PAWS, the animal shelter on Clybourn, (From being under the management of Alden Capital to running a no-kill shelter.) Ex-Trib paper editor Amy Carr will take the top job at Chicago.

And Friend of Fooditor Chandra Ram is stepping down as editor of Plate magazine; she’ll remain an editor at large, but having written or co-written a couple of cookbooks, apparently she’ll do more in that vein, or something cool, anyway. Friend of Fooditor Liz Grossman ascends at Plate from managing editor; she was one of the subjects of this piece on Between Bites. Big congrats to both of them on new gigs and new adventures.


Grimod at Understanding Hospitality charts a taxonomy of where upscale Italian restaurants in the downtown area land on a grid comprising Italian-Italian to Italian-American— for as he observes, “as long as pretentious chefs disappoint their customers, Italian-American cuisine will reign.” I thought this, on Monteverde, was especially good:

Of course, Grueneberg notably held a Michelin star for several years as Spiaggia’s executive chef and has developed quite a following as a contestant (then host) across food media. But, at core, she’s a “chef’s chef” who can almost always be seen happily leading her line, presenting dishes firsthand, and chatting up legions of satisfied diners. Grueneberg, on all accounts, is a shining light of the city’s dining scene, but–beyond that–the nature of her cuisine displays a rare depth and complexity within the crowded “Italian” genre…

The dishes are forward in the pleasure they offer but, nonetheless, are composed with a layered complexity that avoids the heaviness of typical “Italian-American” fare. The reflect an application of an “Italian-Italian” mindset towards making food that utilizes American ingredients with the aim of pleasing domestic palates. This is particularly true given the fact that these “smallish shared plates”–in their scale and balance–read like entrées.

Others are not so kind…


As promised last week, Anthony Todd’s Dish column returned with a look at the latest iteration of Trevor Teich’s Claudia:

Claudia is taking over the Bucktown space (1952 N. Damen Ave.) that has housed Takashi and Dixie (and most recently, Stoneflower). Unlike Claudia’s previous incarnations, this won’t be a delicate jewel box of a dining room – the space is large, with two stories and a full bar. “Walking into the space, I felt like I could see Claudia there,” says Teich. “In my original business plan that I wrote six years ago, there was a bar, and now we have one.”


Uncommon Grounds in Rogers Park had the first certified organic rooftop farm in America, and Local Food Forum has a story on how its rooftop farmer, Allison Glovak Webb, dealt with lockdown:

They were they were shut down and they weren’t unfortunately paying anybody. But it’s kind of my space to come to with my girls. So I came here, I started all this summer crop. I’m so invested, this is like part of me. Also we’re outdoors, no one else is coming here, and it’s doing something I love. I’m really glad it all worked out… We were saying if the restaurant didn’t reopen for a while, maybe we were gonna grow and donate to the staff…


Thing I learned from this Steve Dolinsky piece: the George in George’s Pizza, which I review below, is named George Bumbaris, but Dolinsky doesn’t say if he’s any relation to the partner with Sarah Stegner in Prairie Grass Cafe of the same name. Anyway, the main thing is that Dolinsky takes us through his well-thought-out process for a superior deep dish pizza.

Buzz 2


I have to say, it’s 2021 and my first thought was that the subhead on the Reader’s story about a Vietnamese snack business was kind of stereotyped and racist—”Natalie Vu’s Vietnamese snack brand isn’t just for nail techs.” But no, it really is all about Vietnamese nail salons as the nexus of the international Vietnamese snack trade:

After a year [Natalie Vu] recognized an untapped market in the city’s Vietnamese-operated nail salons. She’d scoured the online offerings of Saigon snack makers and shipped a load over. Packing a big, black gym bag full of bánh tráng, chicken jerky, and salted fish skin, she began making the rounds of downtown salons. Word spread, and as orders increased, she created her brand. Ăn Vặt Cô Béo roughly translates as “Miss Bella Snacks.” She designed her own packaging, website (anvatcobeochicago.com), and Instagram page (@anvatcobeo.chicago), and her logo features a typical street vendor who could be posted up outside any school. Today she moves about 300 pounds a week in online orders, available for shipping, delivery, or pickup.

Now I have to figure out a way to try them without getting my nails done.


Titus Ruscitti reports that Leo’s Coney Island, a Detroit favorite which was on Southport for a short time, is coming back, pays a visit to legendary Lem’s, and grabs a late night diner bite at a sketchy Melrose Park standby.


David Hammond talks to Scottie Pippen, who’s hands-on about his new bourbon line:

Pippen’s hands are all over Digits, even graphically. He worked to develop the flavors he wanted in this bourbon, and he also helps bottle the spirit, going so far as to help put labels on the bottles— making sure they’re straight—before they go out the door. “This is not just a celebrity endorsement for me,” says Pippen. “It’s my brand. I’ve created something that is a part of me.”


I linked to Peter Regas’ Culinary Historians of Chicago talk last month about the origins of Chicago deep dish pizza. Now he’s written a piece on the origins of Pizzeria Uno, the ur-pizza of deep dish, which reclaims the role played in its history by Ric Riccardo, a fascinating character in the midcentury cultural life of the city, and whose Riccardo’s was still an ad biz hangout into my early days in the biz in the 1980s and 90s. The hitch is it’s in that Food Cultura thing which is distributed in some copies of the Reader, but otherwise only accessible via a PDF, which you can download here.


Time Out national has a listicle of the 19 most influential restaurants picked by chefs, and, well, most are what you’d expect, El Bulli and French Laundry and The Grey and whatnot, but there’s a surprise in the one Chicago spot on the list—Mindy’s Bakery, picked by Felicia Mayden, executive pastry chef at Lovage at the Ace Hotel: “As a fellow Kendall College alumna, I’ve loved following Mindy Segal’s career. She has been such a huge influence on my own career – as a woman in the pastry world, it’s been so nice to see a woman dominating the industry the way she wants, not allowing anyone to control her every move.”


One of the coolest remaining old restaurant buildings in the Chicago area is the 1922 one that held the Czech restaurant Klas in Cicero. It has old Mittel-European decor as well as vintage murals—and an Al Capone connection. And it’s been under threat since the restaurant closed in 2016, but now there’s an effort to preserve one of the last pieces of old Czech Cicero—you can give to the GoFundMe here. To see why you should, here are some good pics of the historic building.


A new podcast, 77 Flavors of Chicago, aims to eat its way through all 77 of Chicago’s official neighborhoods. Good luck with some of the purely industrial ones—at least Pullman has a Culver’s now—but it’ll be interesting to see how it goes in some of the more obscure ones with few commercial strips. (If you’re wondering, Schorsch Village is on the northwest side, and the obvious choice is Bia’s Cafe Marianao, the descendant of old Cuban favorite Cafeteria Marianao). So far they’ve not exactly pushed the envelope, doing Lakeview and Streeterville. Anyway, Nick Kindelsperger talks to them.


Four years ago Bucktown’s The Art of Chicken closed in a fire, much to my regret, since it was a simple delivery choice for a fairly healthy and natural dinner. It reopens on Thursday, says Block Club.


The headline at Sandwich Tribunal says “Gilgeori Toast: Korean Street Eats.” Sold! Fire up the Sunbeam 4-slicer, I want it. What is it?

…a couple years ago it seemed like every other “suggested” video I’d scroll past on Facebook was somebody putting together a crazy-looking egg sandwich with griddle-toasted bread, shredded cabbage and other vegetables, sometimes ham and/or cheese, ketchup and/or mayonnaise and/or some other unidentifiable sauces, and more often than not, plain white sugar.

They’re also called Grandma Toast. What time is my flight to Seoul?


I had a media invite for Venteux, the French restaurant in the dining space next to the Hotel Pendry—the what? you ask. Well, last year it was the St. Jane and the restaurant was Free Rein, and before that it was the Hard Rock Hotel, and for decades it was the Carbide and Carbon building on Michigan Ave. The chef is Don Young, previously of Temporis and Woodwind, and the waiter’s spiel told us that it was classic French food with a modern twist. Which sounds like it can mean whatever you want it to mean, but by and large that was what we had—classical French with some modern dressup.

For instance, roast duck came with crepes and four different options of things to spoon on it, from something like bordelaise to something like hoisin sauce. Sounds like French food with a modern twist to me. Occasionally innovation went too far—some perfectly nice escargots were paired unnecessarily with extra carbs in the form of a savory “doughnut,” not sure why—but generally it was well executed and satisfying, straight through to a classic Grand Marnier souffle infused tableside with foie gras, and a corncake financier surrounded by freeze-dried corn and blueberries. Also, I never order a seafood tower—it just says “sucker bet” to me in most places—but when the first thing you see when you walk in is a dedicated seafood chef surrounded by seafood on ice, well, the one we got ranged from lobster and king crab to a salad dotted with clams, and it was quite pleasant. The shortage of French food here makes Venteux a welcome and welcoming addition to the scene, which, for being on Michigan Avenue in a hotel, was reasonable enough in price. Bon appetit!

Now way up north for deep dish pizza—the aforementioned George’s, which is located in a Rogers Park streetfront that has been many things (one of the more recent ones was, amusingly, an African restaurant called The Guy and the Goat). Anyway, I’m usually a bit skeptical of claims that a long retard on pizza crusts produces some profound depth of flavor—tastes like crust to me—but in this case there was a real sourdough tang to the puffy crust, and comparable depth to the tomato sauce, plus a light hand with cheese which put it more in the area of a good hand-tossed pizza than the usual deep dish gut bomb. The family mostly ate the sausage pizza, which I liked, but I think I liked even better one of the vegetarian pies, McFly’s Sci-Fi, whcih had goat cheese, spinach and Castelvetrano olives. This is certainly a quick addition to the top of the deep dish pizza list, and I’ll be back for more.