Reza’s healthful and tasty Mediterranean fare hits the mark for quality and variety

Reza’s Restaurant
432 W. Ontario, Chicago,
(312) 664-4500
5255 N. Clark, Chicago,
(773) 561-1898
40 N. Tower Rd., Oak Brook,
(630) 424-9900

Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight, seven days a week
Prices: dinnertime entrées: $14.95-$21.95; family style, $24.95-$29.95 per person

We were enjoying our delicious Mediterranean dinner at Reza’s so much the other day that we almost forgot to acknowledge we were also eating quite healthfully. Smart eating is easy when you go for Mediterranean fare. The cuisine is, by design, relatively low-fat but high in good nutrition. Reza’s offers the kind of dining experience that lends itself to regular enjoyment. It’s not expensive, there are leftovers to bring home and, if you’ve been at all conscious of your portion size, you won’t feel bloated or tired afterward. You can also enjoy a generous lunch buffet on weekdays.

These facts are, of course, nothing new to Reza’s large cadre of regular customers. With three locations, Reza’s is an accessible and attractive neighborhood spot in which to enjoy a wide-ranging menu that features many vegetarian dishes in addition to the lamb, beef, poultry and seafood.

Reza’s mission is not grandiose, and they don’t offer cutting edge interpretations of Mediterranean fare. Rather, the restaurants focus on quality and freshness, offering well-prepared renditions of traditional items that are pleasing to a diverse range of diners. Those who enjoy ethnic food adventure as well as those who prefer to stay with the basics will find much to enjoy here. The emphasis on healthy eating is stated on the menu: no artificial ingredients, additives or MSG are used.

The lunch and dinner menus are similar although there are more dinnertime choices, including family style dining. The salads are straightforward; nothing fancy. The signature salad is the Fattoush, with Romaine lettuce, scallion, cucumber, parsley, green pepper, radish, mint, toasted pita mixed with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

The meal gets more interesting with the appetizers. Signature starters include Herbed Roasted Feta Cheese, topped with roasted red pepper, black olives and tomatoes, finished with olive oil; Dolmeh Felfel, a sweet green pepper, stuffed with choice of spinach or mushrooms, with cheese, in a delicately spiced Persian tomato sauce, then baked; Vegetarian Shami, patties of minced green vegetables, coated with chickpeas and delicately sautéed, served in a sweet and sour pomegranate sauce with finely crushed walnuts, and Kashkeh Bodemjan, a medley of eggplant, curds and whey, flavored with garlic and mint, served with pita bread. The Grilled Mushrooms and Grilled Potatoes are appetizers that also work well as side dishes.

Reza’s offers a selection of five lunchtime vegetarian combos; At dinnertime, the vegetarian combos are similar, but there are some additional choices. All are served with fresh Persian bread, soup and a choice of dill or white rice (choose the dill), couscous, grilled potatoes or Persian salad. Veggie combo I features Hummus, Tabbouli, and Baba Ghannouj. Combo II offers Vegetarian Dolmeh, Vegetarian Shami and Kashkeh Bodemjan; Combo III includes Cous-Cous, Reza’s vegetarian appetizer and steamed string beans; Combo IV features eggplant steak, hummus and couscous. Combo V presents Stuffed Green Pepper with spinach or mushroom stuffing, Reza’s vegetarian appetizer and falafel.

If you’re in the mood for a wrap, choose for the kabob-based Koubideh (seasoned minced beef), Chicken Koubideh, Chicken Breast, Seasoned Ground Chicken, Lamb or Filet Mignon. If you’d prefer a vegetarian wrap, you can order Falafel, Portabella or Eggplant.

Moving on to entrées, fish and seafood lovers have many choices; all dishes are served with the same accoutrements as the veggie combos. Choices include Broiled Filet of Salmon, Broiled Lake Superior White Fish, White Fish Persian style (breaded and sautéed in olive oil), and Shrimp or Scallops (either choice is garlic marinated). A special dinnertime-only entrée is the Chilean Sea Bass Kabob (charbroiled seasoned chunks of Sea Bass).

If you’re in a mood for meats or poultry, you will easily find something to fit the mood. Choices include Filet Mignon (charbroiled with grilled mushrooms in a mushroom sauce), Lamb Chops (two double-cut broiled baby spring lamb chops) or Lamb Loin Chops (three broiled loin chops), and Koubideh (seasoned minced beef kabob). The Lamb Shank is simmered in home made tomato-based sauce. Two interesting dinnertime-only entrees are the Fessenjan, boneless chicken breast simmered in a sweet and sour pomegranate sauce, and the Ghamieh Bodemjan, beef and yellow split peas simmered in a tomato sauce.

Kabobs arrive right from the broiler. Choose the Lamb Kabob (charbroiled lamb loin on a skewer, served with grilled vegetables), the Chengeh (Filet Mignon shish kabob) served with a grilled tomato, Boneless Chicken (marinated boneless chicken breast, charbroiled with grilled vegetables, the Chicken Koubideh (charbroiled seasoned ground chicken kabob with Persian seasonings) or the Quail Kabob (marinated and charbroiled, served with grilled getables).

The family-style dinners are offered as five-course feasts, offered on a per-person pricing. Choose from three appetizers and three entrees. These are also excellent for carry-out.

In addition to the tasty Baklava and Bamieh, there are American-style desserts such as rich Double Chocolate Cake, White Chocolate Mousse Cake, Carrot Cake and Raspberry Cheese Cake. Don’t forget to enjoy the aromatic Persian coffee or tea.

Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. For more information, please call (312) 651-9000 or stay in the know by visiting their blog at For more DineWise features, subscribe to and follow us on Twitter @dinewise.

Posted in Chicago restaurants, Dinewise Chicago, Kurman Communications, Lee Barrie, Mediterranean food in Chicago, Resa's, Restaurant News, Streetwise | Leave a comment

Bon Appetit and Chicago Gourmet Dine Around

The Bon Appétit and Chicago Gourmet Dine Around extends the event beyond Millennium Park into some of the city’s best restaurants.  Special prix-fixe menus will be available at participating restaurants offering guests not only a unique dining experience but a chance to earn a free ticket to Chicago Gourmet.  Guests who purchase five meals during the Dine Around period, Monday, August 30 through Sunday, September 26, at any participating restaurant must attach a copy of their receipt to their receipt holder in order to redeem a complimentary ticket to Chicago Gourmet.  Receipts must be presented at registration the day of the event in order to redeem your one-day pass.    

2010 Dine Around restaurants:

Balsan at the Elysian Hotel
Bittersweet Pastry Shop & Cafe
Boka Restaurant
Branch 27
Café des Architectes at Sofitel Chicago Water Tower
cibo matto
Courtright’s Restaurant
Firefly Grill
Green Zebra
Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse
Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, Chicago
Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, Naperville
Keefer’s Restaurant
Lao Beijing
LM Restaurant
May St. Café & Catering
Mercat a la Planxa
Morton’s The Steakhouse
N9NE Steakhouse
Oceanique Restaurant
Old Town Social
one sixtyblue
Park Grill 
Perennial Restaurant
Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush
Piccolo Sogno
Prairie Fire
RIVA at Navy Pier
Rockit Bar & Grill
Seasons, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
Spring Restaurant
Sunda New Asian
Tavern at the Park
Tavern on Rush
The Bristol
The Dining Room at Kendall College
The Gage
The Metropolitan Club
The Parrot Cage Restaurant
The Signature Room at the 95th

The list of Dine Around restaurants continues to grow. Check here for more information

Posted in best Chicago restaurants, Bon Appetit, Chicago Gourmet 2010, Chicagourmet, Dinewise, Dinewise Chicago, Kurman Communications, Lee Barrie, Streetwise | Leave a comment

Amelia’s Mestizo Grill is an oasis of culinary treasure in the historic Stockyards neighborhood

Amelia’s Mestizo Grill
4559 S. Halsted, Chicago
(773) 538-8200;

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Mon.-Fri.; 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat.; 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun.
Prices: entrées, $17-$24

Driving south on Halsted to the historic Stockyards area, we were not expecting the warm, sophisticated and gracious atmosphere that greeted us; it’s a tribute to owners Leo and Eusevio Garcia that they have created such a comforting respite in a relatively industrial, stark neighborhood. Through word of mouth, Amelia’s Mestizo Grill has become a beloved destination restaurant for many Chicagoans, and the Garcias have clearly put much heart and soul into it. They are passionate about their food and their desire to please their guests. The beautiful exposed brick walls are generously decorated with Mexican art, the seating is very comfortable and the service is thoughtful and considerate.

Amelia’s Mestizo Grill presents a sophisticated blend of southern central Mexican and European cuisine, much like the food one would enjoy in cosmopolitan Mexico City. They are using authentic, fresh ingredients and have refined the food with subtle seasonings and flavor combination’s that make the dining experience memorable. In keeping with the beautiful décor, the food is handsomely presented as well.

We chose some popular dishes as well as some we couldn’t resist because they sounded so good. The menu is extensive. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of everything.

To start your meal, there is a more than ample choice of appetizers, salads and soups, with more than enough variety to please everyone and great for sharing. We loved the Taquitos de Cangrejo, which were more like spring rolls: crabmeat rolled in rice paper, with papaya, cilantro, basil, fresh mint, peanuts and spicy mango. Three other great starters were the Tamal Nejo (ash layered tamal with spicy black bean puree and red mole sauce and sheared chicken), the Croquetas Fritas (artichoke corn fritters, squash blossoms, epazote and salsa cruda), and the Quesadilla de Huitlacoche (corn truffle, Chihuahua cheese, epazote, roasted corn and black bean salad with tomato salad). The guacamole had a nice touch of heat to liven things up. Some other choices to whet your appetite include the Eggplant Empanada (roasted eggplant, caviar, sun dried tomato, baby arugula salad, goat cheese and basil pesto), and the popular Queso Fundido and Ceviche.

Entrées were equally delicious. We were thrilled with an entrée special, crispy Peking Duck topped with a subtle, spicy Mexican sauce. Another clear winner was the Lomo de Puerco (grilled pork tenderloin with fava beans, andouille sausage, baby spinach in a spicy ciruela sauce) which was well balanced and perfectly prepared, although we recommend getting it medium rare rather than medium.

On the seafood side, we also loved the Camarones Ala Pipiana (sautéed shrimp served in green mole with plaintains). Other great sounding entrée selections include Cordero Al Carbon (grilled baby lamb chops, polenta cake, roasted tomatoes, asparagus salad in a chipotle pasilla reduction), Raviolis de Queso de Cabra (goat cheese stuffed ravioli, stir fry, eggplant, green peas, cherry tomatoes and basil pesto), and Pescado Empapelado (tilapia wrapped in foil, steamed with nopales, chorizo and epazote, served with rice and grilled banana).

The dessert menu is also quite intriguing. We loved the chocolate infused tres leches cake with coconut ice cream, which was beautifully presented.

Keep in mind that weekend brunch is also very extensive, offering some of the same starters and entrees as on the dinner menu, as well as some delicious brunch specials. Special brunch egg dishes include Heuvos Al jardin (two poached eggs, grilled Portobello mushrooms, Mexican zucchini and red pepper hollandaise sauce), San Pedro Omelet (crab meat, roasted corn, quelites and muenster cheese), Halsted Omelet (avocado, pico de gallo, spinach and feta cheese) and the Frittata, an egg white soufflé with artichoke hearts, spinach, cherry tomatoes and pesto.

Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. Please visit their blog at and check out all DineWise articles at Follow us on Twitter @Dinewise.

Posted in Amelia's Mestizo Grill, best Chicago restaurants, best mexican restaurants in Chicago, Dinewise, Lee Barrie, Stockyards restaurants, Streetwise | Leave a comment

Gourmet Brain Freeze: Chicago’s Best Ice Cream Shops

By Lee Barrie and Cindy Kurman
First published in StreetWise Magazine

As we write this, we’re gearing up to attend the second annual Chicago Luxury Ice Cream Festival at the Peggy Notebaert  Nature Center in Lincoln Park, July 30-31. By the time you read this, the festival, the brainchild of our friend Jeff Reid, will have become history, but an even bigger annual foodie event. This leads us to consider our topic of the week: artisan ice cream.

Almost everyone who likes dairy loves ice cream or a suitable variation like frozen yogurt, frozen custard, and gelato. Whether you’re a purest and prefer your ice cream plain or an adventurer who will try any and all types of flavors, mix-ins and toppings, Chicago offers up many great places to try an ice cream creation that refreshingly rises above the typical supermarket ice cream experience.

Here are some fun places to try when it’s hot out and you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive fix of frozen delight.

The Chocolate Shoppe
5337 W. Devon Ave., Chicago           1823 Waukegan Rd, Glenview, IL
773-763-9778                                       (847) 998-0809

We stumbled upon the Glenview location when it first opened last year, taking over a former Baskin Robbins space. What a difference! They feature more than 40 flavors, with a very helpful, enthusiastic staff. Their Zanzibar Chocolate, a dark chocolate scoop of guilty pleasure, is the best chocolate ice cream we’ve ever had. Our advice: go there and get two flavors, one being the Zanzibar and the other a suitable, but lighter accompaniment. There is nothing better.

Black Dog Gelato
859 N. Damen Ave., Chicago

Using fresh, locally produced ingredients, this gelato and sorbet shop offers traditional flavors such as vanilla bean, milk chocolate and pistachio, or more adventurous choices such as salted peanut, goat-cheese cashew caramel and roasted red pepper.

Gertie’s Ice Cream
7600 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago
(773) 582-2510

If you’re nostalgic for an old-time ‘50’s era ice cream parlor, Gertie’s is the real deal. They make their own ice cream and their signature dish is an old fashioned banana split, with three scoops of ice cream, strawberries, pineapple, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, chopped nuts and a cherry. Sometimes classics withstand the test of time for good reason.

Homer’s Homemade Gourmet Ice Cream
1237 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette, IL

We know you’ve heard of it, but now is as good as any time to actually give it a try. Homer’s is family owned, award-winning, offering 35 flavors of premium frozen joy. Rave reviews for the Fresh Peach ice cream, and many say that the simpler flavors are so good that they are worth ordering over the more complex flavors. Either way, you’ll get your fix of pure pleasure. Don’t forget the shakes and malts, either.

2951 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 880-7372;

Bobtails is another delightful retro journey back to the days of yesteryear’s soda jerks. The ice cream is made on-site; you can even view the factory while you’re there. Choose from about 20 original flavors, including the “signature sunset”, which is a merlot ice cream with dark chocolate chips. It’s also a great place to try a special ice cream creation such as a sundae.

Artisan Micro-Creameries for your Ice Cream Radar Antennae
We’re the first to admit that it would take page after page to describe all of the wonderful ice creams available in Chicagoland. So here’s a shortcut: peruse the following list of micro-creameries and then keep your eyes open for a restaurant or ice cream shop that carries these brands. You’ll enjoy some of the finest ice cream made in the Chicago area, some with offbeat flavors and unusual ingredients. Then enjoy the brain freeze:

Blue Marble Dairy of Chicago
Sibby’s Ice Cream
Trader’s Point Creamery
Nice Cream
Ruth & Phil’s Gourmet Ice Cream
Mayfell Farms (sheep’s milk ice cream)

Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. Please visit their blog at and check out all DineWise articles at Follow us on Twitter @Dinewise.

Posted in Black Dog Gelato, Bobtails, Chicago Luxury Ice Cream Festival, Chicago's best ice cream, Dinewise, Gertie's Ice Cream, Homer's Ice Cream, Kurman Communications, Lee Barrie, Streetwise | Leave a comment

Crepes worth seeking out in Chicago

Lutz Cafe and Pastry Shop
2458 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 478-7785
11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday – Saturday

You have to love and respect a neighborhood restaurant that’s been around for 62 years. Such is the case with popular Lutz Cafe and Pastry Shop. This internationally inspired cafe opened in 1948 as a pastry shop influenced by the Black Forest region of Germany. Lutz is a Chicago tradition. Just mentioning the name elicits stories and memories from childhoods passed. While the pastry shop is a destination for fabulous pastries, cakes and tortes. A menu staple includes Chicken & Mushroom Crepes ($8.95) and Spinach Crepes ($8.95) both finished with hollandaise sauce. Always delicious and worth coming back for return visits. The lovely outside garden in back is one of Chicago‘s most charming.

Crepes A Latte
1840 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago
Tel: (773) 549-4444
We were pleasantly surprised at Crepes A Latte with blue “clouds” suspended from the ceiling, a clock tower and a caricature of a Parisian street scene on the back wall, Crepes A Latte is whimsical and fun.  We don’t think that you’d find Crepes A Latte in France but the broad crepe selection is impressive if not confusing. With breakfast crepe options ranging from egg and cheese to the enticing crumbled blueberry muffin with vanilla bean sauce for under $5, there’s something for everyone. We have to note that we were confused by the printed menu. While it appears that there are choices other than crepes, the perhaps too cleverly worded menu packages everything in a tasty light wrap. For lunch, dinner or an afternoon snack, there are a variety of savory options ($6.75), Avocado, Tomato & Cheese, Baked Apples with Brie, or Chicken Peanut Satay. There’s also a Smoked Turkey and a number of  veggie selection. Visiting Crepes A Latte for dessert? You won’t be disappointed. Try a twist on an old favorite, Bananas Foster or Caramel Apple Pie or be more European and enjoy our favorite, Nutella Banana (all $5.75). They have a nice selection of “hot stuff”, i.e. coffee, tea and hot chocolate drinks, as well as drinks to “chill out” with including frappes, iced, smoothies and milkshakes. Crepes A Latte is a perfect for a multi-unit operation. Look for more coming to Chicago. This is one concept with legs worth the run.
Crepes Cafe
410 S. Clark St.
Tel: 312-341-1313
If you can dream it, you can have it at Crepes Cafe. They offer a large variety of traditional and not-so-traditional crepes, sweet and savory, including Beef Stroganoff ($12) or Frutti di Mare ($11), Spinach and Feta ($7), Sweet Lemon ($4), Maple Syrup ($4), Vanilla Cheese ($7), PB&J ($7), and Fruit Preserves ($7), among others.  If you’re a hot dog ($7) fan, you don’t have to go elsewhere. They wrap theirs in a crepe. You can also have a Polish Sausage ($10), Chili ($7), Corned Beef ($12), or Lasagna ($10). And, if you haven’t guessed, you’re welcome to “create your one.”
Other’s worth mentioning:
Crepe Bistro & Martini Bar
186 N. Wells, Chicago – (312) 269-0300  
FliP Crepes at Chicago French Market
131 N. Clinton, Chicago – (312) 504-2541  
Crepes and Coffee Palace
2433 N. Clark, Chicago
 (773) 404-1300  
Crepe Crave & Gelato
1752 W. North, Chicago – (773) 698-8783 
Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. Please visit their blog at and check out all DineWise articles at

Posted in crepe crave, Crepes a latte, Crepes and coffee palace, Crepes Cafe, Crepes in Chicago, Crepes trend, Dinewise Chicago, Kurman Communications, Lee Barrie, Lutz Cafe, Streetwise | Leave a comment

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Let’s Do Lunch at the fabulous Chicago French Market

Chicago French Market
131 N. Clinton, Chicago (entrances on Canal St. and Clinton)

Hours: 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Mon.-Fri.; 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday. Closed on Sunday. Vendor opening times vary, but all are open by 10 a.m.

The buzz continues to grow about the new Chicago French Market, located adjacent to the Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago between Canal and Clinton. This memorable and exciting European style market is home to a diverse collection of specialty food booths. Some vendors offer food to take home and prepare, while others offer freshly prepared gems to be enjoyed right at the market. The spacious dining area offers ample room for market goers to settle in and enjoy their treats. It’s a food lovers’ paradise so take a stroll and enjoy the adventure. If you become a regular, you’ll get to know the vendors and you’ll learn a lot about the foods. How nice to actually know your food seller!
Our suggestion: come to the market, pick up lunch, relax while you eat in the dining area, then take time to browse the aisles and pick out some fresh meat, fish or cheese, organic produce, prepared meats, fresh pasta, some wonderful bakery or chocolates to take home. If this becomes a routine, you’ll have a daily adventure that’s memorable and you’ll have some very happy family members.

When you’re inclined to do lunch at the market, here are some of the stops you should be sure to check out.

Chundy’s Bistro features Indian-fusion cuisine. There are hot meals, delicious soups, salads and sandwiches. Chundy’s offers Indian-fusion dishes, plus a variety of quality grab-and-go meals, salads, snacks and drinks. Menu highlights include cold sandwiches, meat and vegetarian Panini, soups such as green curry coconut, traditional Indian mulligatawny and lentil, salads, side dishes, a selection of chutneys and slaws and a collection of fruit and vegetable sweet breads, flatbreads, plus fresh fruit smoothies, milkshakes and iced fruit teas.

Buen Apetito is a family owned taqueria that specializes in traditional Mexican favorites with a modern flair and a focus on healthy, fresh and flavorful ingredients. The menu features grilled steak, chicken, salmon and vegetarian tacos and tostadas, plus burritos. All dishes are prepared with fresh herbs and distinctive spices. Appetizers include a hot or cold selection such as ceviche, pico de gallo or guacamole as well as tortilla soup, cebollitas or quesadillas. For the sweeter side, Buen Apetito offers Dona Marias signature flan cheesecake, rice pudding or tropical fruit medley.

FliP Crepes serves a delicious variety of savory and sweet crepes, prepared with a master’s touch using healthy ingredients such as wheat flour, buckwheat and wheat germ. FliP gets its name from its distinctive presentation: the crepes arrive on your plate in the shape of a burrito.

Saigon Sisters is an authentic Vietnamese eatery such as one would find in the bustling markets of Vietnam. This popular stop offers a more modern environment but is operated under the same principle: offer fresh delicious food and products sourced from local suppliers. Choose from the delicious Pho (noodle and broth dishes), spring rolls, herb noodle salads, and Banh mi (sandwiches). The ingredients focus on healthful, flavorful and aromatic herbs, spices, vegetables, seasoned meats and seafood from locally sourced farmers and purveyors.

RAW is the very popular stop at the Chicago French Market for raw foods. The raw food diet continues to grow in popularity, in part due to the fact that it is delicious and very satisfying. The food items are made from 100% organic raw vegan ingredients and the delicious foods taste as fresh as can be. Choices include sandwiches, salads, pizza, pastas, muffins and granola. smoothies, desserts, drinks and snack items, all made on-site.

Bowl Square serves healthy, traditional Korean fare. Korean food is also growing in popularity and here you’ll find approachable Korean food in nicely-sized portions. The menu focuses largely on simplified versions of popular Korean food with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and fast service.

Pastoral is a European-inspired, authentic neighborhood cheese shop, offering fine artisan cheeses, small production wines and freshly baked breads along with a full complement of related items such as charcuterie, olives, tapenades, honeys, jams, olive oils and artisan sweets. For lunch check out the prepared gourmet sandwiches, salads and side dishes.

Fumare Meats: You won’t find any more passionate or knowledgeable people about cured and smoked meats than these folks. Working with the finest purveyors, Fumare offers traditionally cured and smoked meats from local producers, including prosciutto, hams, smoked sausages, and bacons. You’ll find a nice selection of prepared sandwiches and side dishes. Make sure to try the old-fashioned Montreal-style smoked meat, cured and naturally smoked, peppered and slow-cooked to a well-marbled tenderness.

Frietkoten: If you love fries, you’ll have to stop here to enjoy Amsterdam’s traditional ‘fry shack’ experience: hand cut Belgian fries served in a paper cone. They’re crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, the way fries should be. Keeping with the Amsterdam tradition, there are nearly 20 different dipping sauces to choose from every day.

Espression by Lavazza raises the bar for coffee stops with a wide range of creative espresso beverages made with world-famous Lavazza coffee. This Italian company has taken Chicago by storm and the Chicago French Market location is the perfect setting. You’ll also love the gelato. Better yet, get a scoop of gelato topped with a shot of espresso.

Juice Bar is the place to go to round out your meal with fresh, squeezed-to-order fruit and vegetable juices, plus homemade smoothies made with seasonal fruits. All juices are 100% juice, with zero added sugar or concentrates.
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Yelp Eats Offering $25 Dining Deals at 33 Chicago Area Restaurants June 21-27, the website that connects people with great local businesses, presents Yelp Eats, June 21-27, a week-long promotion dedicated to giving consumers the chance to try local restaurants at discounted prices.

Prix fixe dinner menus are being offered at 33 restaurants throughout Chicagoland for $25. 

Restaurants participating in the promotion include:


1492 Tapas Bar, River North 
Bin Wine Cafe, Wicker Park
Bin 36, Near North Side
Blue 13, River North
Branch 27, Noble Square
Broadway Cellars, Edgewater
Corner 41, North Center
Duchamp, Bucktown
Eve, Gold Coast
Fontana Grill, Uptown
Green Zebra, Noble Square
Kinzie Chop House, River North
La Madia, Near North Side
LM Le Restaurant, Lincoln Square
LOKal, Wicker Park
Nacional 27, River North
Sapori, Lincoln Park
Scoozi, River North
Spring, Wicker Park
State & Lake, The Loop
Thalia Spice, River West
The Drawing Room, Gold Coast
Treat, Humboldt Park

Chicago Suburbs

Birch River Grill, Arlington Heights
Bluegrass, Highland Park
Glen Prairie, Glen Ellyn
Kama Bistro, La Grange
Karma Asian Food & Wine, Mundelein
Marion Street Cheese Market, Oak Park
Meson Sabika, Naperville
Oceanique, Evanston
The Stained Glass, Evanston
Vie, Western Springs
Zak’s Place, Hinsdale

These special menus are open to the public. Reservations should be made in advance by calling the business and mentioning Yelp Eats. For more information about the special menus, visit

Posted in Birch River Grill, Dinewise Chicago, Dining Deals, Glen Prairie, Karma, Kurman, Streetwise, Yelp | Leave a comment

Deleece: this restaurant was always good, but now it’s approaching amazing

4004 N. Southport, Chicago
(773) 325-1710;
Hours: 5:30-10 p.m., Mon.; 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m., Tues., Wed., Thurs.; 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-11 p.m., Fri.; 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-11 p.m., Sat.; 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m., Sun.
Prices: most entrees are under than $20 and every Monday and Tuesday, Deleece features a three course special for $20!
It’s always a pleasure to write about a neighborhood spot that’s so good it’s worth a drive or L-ride, no matter where you live. So we’re happy to report that Deleece, a favorite among Lakeview residents since 1995, is better than ever and definitely worth the journey. A casual and beautifully artistic restaurant, owned by husband and wife team Lynne Wallack and John Handler, Deleece specializes in good contemporary American cuisine. With a foundation in American comforts, the restaurant brings a creative, global sensibility to its menu. The quality of the food has always set it apart from the bulk of even good neighborhood restaurants and these days, it has raised the bar even further. And topping off the good news, the menu continues to be very reasonably priced.
Four months ago, Deleece brought in a new chef, Brandon Canfield, who was recently at mk in Chicago but has also cooked in New York and San Francisco. His food is exceptional and we hope he has found a long term home at Deleece. We dined there very recently and we were very, very pleased, indeed. Canfield’s seasonal menu emphasizes fresh, local ingredients and he continues the tradition of presenting a wide assortment of flavors to please everyone.
Reading the menu, the dishes sound interesting, but not necessarily out of this world. In truth, the food is marvelous and brings the menu to life in a way we couldn’t have anticipated. We started our meal with an appetizer and salad. The Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi, with fava beans, maitake mushrooms, in white wine butter, was delicious. The gnocchi were perfectly done (not an easy feat) and the flavors were complex and fresh. The Arugula Salad was a culinary composition that was even better than the sum of its delicious parts. The honey-champagne dressing had a tantalizing sweet tartness, the honey glazed figs were a treat and, topped with a rich Stilton blue cheese, the salad was one of the best we’ve had in a long time.
We both ordered the Caramelized Salmon, a nicely-sized fillet, pan roasted with a somewhat sweet, teriyaki-like glaze, served with herbed black Chinese rice and a tasty sauté of fresh spinach and leeks in a pear ginger sauce. We were very, very happy. We asked for medium rare salmon and that’s what we got. We savored every bite, for this was one of the best salmon preparations we have ever had.
So, without dwelling on the many superlatives at Deleece, let’s run down other menu items, but keep in mind that the menu will change frequently and there are daily specials. Other current appetizer choices include Crab Risotto Cakes with truffle aioli; Chicken and Vegetable Potstickers with ginger, coriander, mustard seeds and honey; Rosemary Scented Polenta layered with sun-dried tomato and garlic pesto, wilted spinach and Ancho chili oil; Veggie spring rolls in butter lettuce salsa verde and nuoc cham.
Salad selections also include California Butter Lettuce with spiced walnuts, goat cheese, roasted peppers in a sherry vinaigrette; a Caesar salad with polenta croutons, and an entrée-sized Szechwan Salad with New York strip, napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, red peppers, peanuts, fried rice noodles in a basil-cilantro-mint dressing.
Additional entrées include Boneless Half Amish Chicken with a salad of fingerling potato, caramelized onion, bacon and celery, in a fig mostarda sauce; Grilled Pork Tenderloin stuffed with spinach and bacon, garlic green beans, savory apple bread pudding and champagne-caramel demi glace; Grilled New York Strip with sautéed spinach, truffle mashed potatoes and port wine demi glace. Fish lovers should also try the Grilled Halibut Steak with peas, baby carrots, chickpea fries and arugula-mint pesto. Note also that many of the sides which come with the entrées are available ala carte as well.
Deleece also presents a special $20 three-course prix fixe dinner menu on Mondays and Tuesdays and bottles of wine are half-priced on Wednesdays. There is a kids menu and the restaurant is family-friendly, without a nice outdoor seating area.
Also keep in mind that there is a second Deleece restaurant: Deleece Grill Pub, at 3313 N. Clark in Wrigleyville, which focuses more on high-quality burgers, mac-and-cheese other comfort fare.
Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. Please visit their blog at and check out all DineWise articles at You can follow us on Twitter @DineWise.
Posted in best Chicago restaurants, chef Brandon Canfield, Chicago restaurant public relations, Cindy Kurman, Deleece, Dinewise Chicago, Kurman Communications, Lakeview, Lee Barrie, Streetwise, Wallack | Leave a comment

Delizioso: Neapolitan pizza invades Logan Square via Ciao Napoli Pizzeria

Ciao Napoli Pizzeria
2607 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
(773) 278-7300
Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight, Tues.-Fri.; 11 a.m.-midnight, Sat.-Sun.; closed Monday
The welcome invasion of authentic, wood-fired Neapolitan style pizza in Chicago continues in a big way. With the recent opening of Ciao Napoli Pizzeria, Logan Square is now the proud territory to this excellent pizza and more. This contemporary styled yet homey newcomer is a good neighborhood spot. The restaurant overlooks the Square with ceiling to floor glass windows. The décor is exposed brick and beautiful rustic wood tables. The staff is super friendly and enjoys schmoozing with the guests. It’s already bustling and, although it’s not a spacious restaurant, it doesn’t feel cramped. There is an ample bar area next to the main dining room.
The main draw is the pizza, which comes in two sizes (12” and 18”), is made from fresh, mostly imported ingredients. Whether you order a tomato-sauced version or a white version, the crust is king. Thin, chewy and slightly charred on the bottom, the way it should be. Among the choices, you can order Pizza D.O.C., a traditional Margherita, with tomato, fresh bufala mozzarella and basil. Pizza alla Diavola features tomato sauce, bufala mozzarella with spicy salamino; the vegetarian Pizza Primavera comes with tomato sauce, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and zucchini. If you’re a cheese lover, don’t miss the Pizza 6 Formaggi, featuring (only!) six cheeses. Pizza Pestum is a white pizza with bufala mozzarella, shrimp and parmigiano. Pizza Bella features tomato sauce, bufala mozzarella, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, basil, crushed black pepper, extra virgin olive oil.
There are a variety of home style appetizers and salads to start. The calamari was somewhat bland although properly cooked; some dipping sauce helps out and don’t be shy about asking for your choice of sauce to spruce it up. There are several bruschetta choices as well. You’ll also enjoy the prosciutto and mozzarella rollups.
The menu also offers several pasta dishes. For many, you can simply choose the type of pasta—fettuccini, gnocchi or penne—and your choice of sauce. Other dishes, such as Lasagna, come only as prepared, which isn’t a bad thing.
For dessert, we liked the Nutella (hazelnut spread) Italian doughnuts. You can also order tiramisu and chocolate mousse, among others.
As with many new restaurants, the food and/or timing can be a bit inconsistent. By now, however, most of the kinks should be worked out and we think it’s worth a try. If you haven’t tried this type of pizza, you’ve been waiting too long. Go for it.
Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. Please visit their blog at and check out all DineWise articles at You can follow us on Twitter @DineWise.
Posted in Chicago pizza, Chicago restaurant public relations, Ciao Napoli Pizzzeria, Cindy Kurman, Dinewise Chicago, Kurman Communications, Lee Barrie, Logan's Square, Neapolitan pizza, Streetwise | Leave a comment