'balena' on Serious Eats
When I moved to Chicago after growing up in New England, I wondered where I would get my seafood fix. Thanks to modern transportation, it's not difficult to dine on seafood not long out of the ocean, even in the middle of the country. But I still wondered how exactly the crabs got here
At Balena, the menu is meant for sharing. It can be nearly impossible to decide what to order when everything looks so delicious, so the more people you're dining with, the better.
These new restaurants are literally all over the map, and come from both respected restauranteurs and hungry novices. The only similarity is that I was legitimately surprised by what I ate.
These are the eleven bites that stuck out amongst the other 120-odd things we tried over the weekend at Chicago Gourmet. From sandwiches to salads to carbonated fruits (yes, carbonated fruits), here are the bites we'd happily stand in line again for.
Last night, some of the best chefs in Chicago set up shop in Lincoln Park for the Green City Market's Chefs' BBQ Benefit, which helps raise money for educational initiatives at the market. The original plan was to try and eat every single dish, but considering there were over 80 restaurants at the event, I had to make do with sampling as much as I could. I did pretty well.
Balena might be the only restaurant on earth with (a) a fully functional wood-fired oven and (b) pizza on its menu, but refuses to cook (b) in (a). But this does help explain what kind of pizza Balena serves. The crust has all the qualities of Neo-Neapolitan: a very high cornicione, impressive structure development, and a texture that balances between a crisp exterior and chewy insides. Basically, this is good bread.
Bring on the bunnies. For too long rabbit has merely been an exotic offering, something written out on menus for a bit of shock value. But there is a long and delicious history of eating rabbit in most of the world's best cuisines. They must be on to something. Here are just a few of our favorite rabbit dishes from around town.
Balena, a massive new Italian-inspired restaurant in Lincoln Park, opens to the public this week. We sat down with chef Chris Pandel to talk through a few of these dishes you'll soon be able to order.