Profile

cpd007

I'm a life long Chicagoan, and have lived on both the North and South sides. Currently, live on the north side with my wife.

  • Location: Chicago
  • Favorite foods: Deep dish pizza and a combo, ( Italian beef and Italian sausage made over charcoal ) extra juicy with both sweet peppers and hot giardiniera from Johnnie's Beef in Elmwood Park, IL.
  • Last bite on earth: An Italian beef/sausage combo, extra juicy, sweet and hot, with a lemon ice from Johnnie's in Elmwood Park.

South Side Eats: Massive Tortas at Doña Torta in Little Village

Awesome, Titus- awesome.

American Diner Classics Still Done the Old Way at Central Kitchen & Tap

@crunkborscht: Right on.

Riverside Family Restaurant

@Tipsykit37: I think you'd really enjoy the Riverside. The previous review on Serious Eats Chicago from last year was spot on. It's just one of those classic, old school, back in the day restaurants that has stood the test of time within the Czech/Bohemian community, and everybody else looking to enjoy a nice meal with good company.

And just in case you don't like it, the best Chicago style thin crust pizza, with homemade Italian sausage is not far away- Villa Nova Pizzeria in Stickney. Just go a little further south on Harlem Ave., and make a left at Pershing. You'll be there in 5 minutes or less.

If you get the chance, take a look at the photos from the Slice Serious Eats review of Villa Nova- that's EXACTLY the way a thin crust pizza with homemade Italian sausage should look like.

American Diner Classics Still Done the Old Way at Central Kitchen & Tap

Nice review, Mike. Good, simple, comfy, salt of the earth, neighborhood spot. And Central Kitchen has always been easy on the wallet, too. Good stuff.

13 Fantastic Fried Chicken Sandwiches in Chicago

@NickKindelsperger: Great round up, Nick. Excellent article.

13 Fantastic Fried Chicken Sandwiches in Chicago

@FredipusRex: I'm with you, buddy. I'm probably the only other person in America who doesn't like pickles on my chicken sandwich. Great points all around.

Riverside Family Restaurant

My family always went to the Riverside for their roasted duck/breaded pork tenderloin combo, which is an absolutely wonderful meal. They also serve a special tenderloin with polish sausage and cheese which is also pretty darn good. But my personal favorite is their wienerschnitzel with dumplings, sauerkraut, and a potato pancake on the side. Delicious!!!

Every table starts with a basket of the Riverside's homemade rye bread, and dessert ends with apricot and raspberry kolacky. It's the perfect ending to a perfect, no frills, old school Euro dinner. There's nothing gourmet here, and definitely NOTHING fancy going on. It's just simple, multi-generational Czech/Bohemian cuisine. It's still a classic within the Czech/Bohemian community and rightly so.

Places like the Riverside are few and far between these days, and are becoming even more extinct by the day. But the Riverside still remains intact and successful even after all these years. Many of the same families still eat there, and even the families that have moved away always return whenever they are in town for a taste of home.

There's always a lot to be said about places that stand the test of time, and the Riverside is one of those classic examples. Good service, great simple food, and good company. I've been eating here as long as I can remember, and the place has not changed one bit.

This is as simple and old school Czech as it gets. It may not be fancy or foofy, but it's special in its' own very unique, classic Bohemian way. A true neighborhood gem.

Good Eating As Always,

cpd007

Like it Or Not, Twin Anchors' Baked Ribs Are Here to Stay

@Tipsykit37: Thank you, Tipsykit37. I really wish I had the artistic ability to create magic in the kitchen, and I truly admire people who can. Since I have no cooking skills on any level, I guess I look at things from an every day diner's perspective- someone who just likes good food when it's in front of him, regardless of where it came from, or whether it's deemed "authentic" by regional food experts.

And I do truly appreciate classic Chicago food institutions- the places that made this city famous. The places that have stood the test of time. The places that we all grew up on. The places that defined this city. And when it comes to thin crust and deep dish pizza, Italian beef, hot dogs, and Italian subs, this city is chalk full of destination worthy stops. And if I can share and/or introduce people to some of these places that I was lucky enough to grow up with, then I'm very happy at the end of the day.

As for BBQ in Chicago, baked ribs have always been very popular here. Is it authentic in the world of true, Southern BBQ? No. It's just something that's kind of unique to the Midwest in general. But to me, the normal everyday person, it's still good food, and I appreciate it for what it is- for its own unique qualities. Places like Twin Anchors and Russell's never had any intentions of emulating true Southern BBQ. They're just good in their own unique Midwestern ways. They were never trying to be anything other than what they are. And they've been around for quite a long time.

To that end, it's also great having the newer places that adhere to the more traditional styles of Southern BBQ- places like Lillie's Q and Smoque. Like I said, I love them all for their various virtues, and all of the above mentioned places, regardless of style, can be appreciated for what they are, and what they offer to the everyday person.

I miss MN- I use to go there quite often to fish. And I miss this little place in International Falls called the Border Bar. Great burgers and great Midwestern style thin crust pizza, cut into squares, with sausage. Great place to have a beer and watch the game, too. Most importantly, great company from the surrounding community. Just good times all the way around. And great memories. It's memories like these that I hold onto where ever I've been in America.

Cheers,

cpd007

Like it Or Not, Twin Anchors' Baked Ribs Are Here to Stay

@FredipusRex: "Russell's was my gateway drug to barbeque." Me too! These days, when I really want a pulled pork sandwich, I crave Lillie's Q, Smoque, and Russell's for 3 different reasons: Lillie's Q for their coleslaw, Smoque for their meat, and Russell's for their sauce. How crazy is that?!?!? I'm all over the place when it comes to bbq, but I really do like them all for their various virtues.

I think it's awesome that you have your own smoker and that you have the ability to make your own rubs. Your kids are definitely lucky to have you in the kitchen/back yard. As for me, I could screw up microwave popcorn. As a matter of fact, I have- many times. It's embarrassing. There are very few things in life that I'm actually good at these days.

Pizza Poll: How Do You Like Your Sausage?

"A simple cheese and sausage at a few selected, Chicago thin crust favorites-" I was referring to a proposed Serious Eats Chicago style thin crust pizza-a-thon. Sorry, it's been a really long week, and I'm glad it's over.

Pizza Poll: How Do You Like Your Sausage?

@FredipusRex: Great point about Coalfire. You can NEVER go wrong with Coalfire (my wife loves the place, too), but I'm really looking forward to the grand opening of Paulie Gee's Chicago. A simple cheese and sausage at a few selected, Chicago thin crust favorites. It should be a lot of fun!

I can't imagine ever eating a pizza here in Chicago without sausage. Sincerely, we need to have a Serious Eats Chicago style thin crust pizza-a-thon this summer. Good times, indeed.

Hope All Is Well,

cpd007

Pizza Poll: How Do You Like Your Sausage?

@iahawk89: I'm with you- I love Lou Malnati's large hunks of garlic sausage. I didn't include it only because I figured we were only talking about sausage on thin crust pizza. Lou's recipe appears to be a sheet or plate of sausage, but it's actually applied in large hunks that are pushed together. And when they are pushed together, the sausage on their deep dish appears to be one large sheet of sausage. The end result is getting to enjoy their famous garlic sausage in every bite.

It's my favorite, too.

Good Eating As Always,

cpd007

Pizza Poll: How Do You Like Your Sausage?

As a born and raised Chicagoan, big hunks of house-made sausage on a traditional Chicago style thin crust pizza, cut into squares, is always the way to go. Unlike every where else in America, sausage is the number #1 topping here, and by a very wide margin. And the places that serve the best homemade sausage recipes all use large hunks of sausage, loaded with pepper, fennel, and other Italian seasonings. I'm talking the big award winning places- the legendary Pat's on Lincoln Ave., Villa Nova in blue collar suburban Stickney near Midway Airport, and Pizano's of Rudy Malnati, Jr. fame. Both Pat's and Pizano's have won many awards over the years, and Villa Nova recently won best cracker thin crust pizza in Chicago by CBS2 News. All 3 places use large hunks of very tasty, fatty, heavily peppered and fenneled sausage. Pizano's recipe is actually a garlic sausage with cracked black pepper, fennel, and other Italian seasonings. In my humble opinion, these are the 3 best examples of large hunk sausage "bombs" that Chicagoans are introduced from birth to enjoy for the rest of their lives.

Thus, large hunks of sausage have always been the Chicago Way when it comes to thin crust pizza, and everybody has their respective favorites. The 3 above mentioned places just happen to be my favorites, and are all very well known here on Slice Serious Eats from past reviews.

Experience a Friday Fish Fry Done Right at Steve's Lounge

@BeavisPeters: You're right- bluegill fries up wonderfully! They're tasty little guys. Good stuff.

Experience a Friday Fish Fry Done Right at Steve's Lounge

@Titus: Great review as always, and great distinction between a traditional Chicago fish fry from fish and chips. You're right- growing up Catholic in Chicago always meant fish on Fridays, and it always will.

There's a discussion under Joe Roy's Twin Anchors post, and I'd love to hear your opinion, Titus.

Good Eating As Always,

cpd007

Like it Or Not, Twin Anchors' Baked Ribs Are Here to Stay

@illone: tdp312 is spot on- you eat what you want, and ignore when others do the same. To each his own. You like Lillie Q's? That's great. So do I. But don't go around looking down on people who like different versions of food than you. I, like many other Chicagoans, happen to like Twin Anchors for what it is. And when I want Lillie Q's, then I go to Lillie Q's. Like I said, I like them all for their various virtues.

But I'm not fooling myself into believing that I enjoy the ribs at Twin Anchors. I really do enjoy them. I had no idea that I was fooling myself all these years. Thank you for enlightening me and imparting your infinite culinary wisdom on everyday people like myself who were actually born and raised here in Chicago.

I'll be sure to tell the rest of my friends, co-workers, and family that we've all been fooling ourselves over the years because we like the baked ribs that many of us grew up with here in Chicago. I'm sure the guys in my bowling league that I've known since 1st grade would love to be educated by yourself since we native Chicagoans are apparently too stupid to recognize good food- even though many of us like Lillie Q's, too, just like you do.

I'm sorry for having a different opinion on food here in Chicago than you do. Maybe you can sit in my garage in mid July and tell my friends and myself how stupid we all are for being Cubs fans, too. And drinking beer, too, right? We shouldn't do that either, right?

BOTTOM LINE: I like what I like, and I probably like a lot of the same things you like, too. But I'm not here to criticize what you like. Why? Because I'm not a condescending, elitist, arrogant, know-it-all jerk. Like I said, to each his own. There is no need to go around attacking and making fun of people who like different things than you.

In the end, I like it all, and there's NOTHING wrong or backward about that. And that goes for my tastes in pizza, Italian beef, hot dogs, ribs- you name it. And especially when it comes to pizza- Chicago style pizza is obviously my favorite, deep dish or thin crust; but, I've had great pizza all over America, especially in NYC, and I'd never go around and tell people in other parts of America that they are stupid or uneducated about their native foods just because their version of pizza is different than what I grew up on here in Chicago. I very much respect the food other people grew up on in other parts of America, and I'd never make fun of them for having a different opinion than mine. And I most certainly wouldn't tell them that their versions of pizza are "not authentic." Their versions of pizza in other parts of America are every bit as authentic as the pizza I grew up with here in Chicago. Same goes for hot dogs and ribs in different parts of America. It's all authentic, but in different forms, depending on where you grew up.

And here in Chicago, many of us grew up on baked ribs. But many of us also like Smoque, Lillie Q's, and a certain place in Texas by my father in law that I believe serves the best BBQ anywhere. There is room for it all, and many of us like it all. And there's NOTHING wrong with liking it all, and appreciating other people's ideas of what constitutes good food in their part of America. Life is a lot easier when you can just sit down, have a nice time with the company that you're in, and enjoy the food that's in front of you, even if it's not what you consider the best or authentic. We should all appreciate food and local food customs for what they are in various parts of America. We are all not the same here in America, and many of us like different things. And just because we have a different opinion than yours doesn't make us stupid, uneducated, or backward.

To each his own.

That It All.

That Is All.

Like it Or Not, Twin Anchors' Baked Ribs Are Here to Stay

@Tipsykit37: Thank you for the kind words. I really do appreciate it. It's funny you mention Totino's Party Pizzas because I've ALWAYS loved them, too. They are original in their own right, and no other frozen pizza tastes quite like them. Same goes for places like Twin Anchors and Russell's. They are good for what they are, and I've enjoyed them all my life, as I enjoy Smoque and Lillie's Q whenever they're in front of me, too. Over the years, I've really learned just to appreciate the food in front of me at that very moment, regardless of where it's from or if it's even deemed "authentic" by various foodies. I really am a simpleton- if it tastes good and I enjoy it, then that's good enough for me.

I grew up on the baked ribs, too, so that will always be my benchmark as well. Thankfully, we live in a city that has it all. And I'm all for enjoying and appreciating food from all over America.

Love Live The Totino's Party Pizza!

cpd007

Like it Or Not, Twin Anchors' Baked Ribs Are Here to Stay

@JoeRoy: I always enjoy your reviews, Joe- always. There is no question what-so-ever concerning the sheer quality and dedication of the smoking process at true BBQ places like Smoque. Places like Russell's and Twin Anchors will obviously never be on that level; but, I don't think they want to be- Russell's in particular. Both places know and understand their popularity base and what made their restaurants famous with "the locals." And places like Smoque and Twin Anchors are famous for their respective sauce recipes, and they will probably never deviate from what made them both successful.

Russell's has their signature rib recipe with their famous sauce, and two versions of pork: the regular pork sandwich and the "smoked" pulled pork sandwich. I always go for the smoked pulled pork. They both come with their famous sauce, and there are squeeze bottles of their BBQ sauce on every table. Plus, you can buy their sauce by the bottle.

I guess when I'm in the mood for true smoking, Smoque is definitely the spot. But when I'm in the mood for what I grew up on and yearning for my favorite BBQ sauce, Russell's is it. And Twin Anchors, too, when I'm in that particular area of the city.

But that's me, Joe. Remember, I'm the guy who loves his Lou Malnati's for deep dish pizza, but I also love the heavily-NYC- Totonno's-influenced Coalfire whenever I'm on Grand Ave. I love them all. It truly is all good, but in very different ways. We all have our hometown favorites in terms of pizza, ribs, pulled pork, etc., but there is just so much to be appreciated all over the city that there truly is room for it all, depending on what one is craving on any particular day. Similarly, Serious Eats Chicago has mastered the coverage of food diversity in Chicago. And you've always done a great job, Joe.

Cheers,

cpd007

Like it Or Not, Twin Anchors' Baked Ribs Are Here to Stay

"Sometimes we Northerners are just in it for the sauce." Exactly. I've always liked Twin Anchors, but when it comes to BBQ sauce, Russell's in Elmwood Park is STILL my favorite Chicago style BBQ. Yes, I love more "authentic" places like Smoque, but when it comes down to it, I'd still take Russell's famous BBQ sauce over everybody else. The place has been around since 1930, and everyone and their mother in my old neighborhood still goes there from time to time, authentic or not. Sometimes, it really is all about the sauce, and some places definitely do it better than others. Even people that moved out of the surrounding neighborhoods (i.e. River Grove, Melrose Park, etc.) still come back from time to time.

So, yes, places like Russell's and Twin Anchors may not be barbeque in the Southern sense, but it's all about the sauce for many of us Chicagoans, and I'm one of them. That said, it's possible to like both authentic Southern style BBQ and traditional saucey Chicago favorites like Russell's and Twin Anchors.

Would foodie snobs look down on me for this? Yes, but I don't care because I wouldn't eat lunch with these types of people anyway. To each his own. Places like Russell's, Twin Anchors, Lillie's Q, and Smoque can all be enjoyed and cherished for their various virtues.

In the end, I like them all, and there is nothing wrong with that, no matter what various foodies say or think. Then again, I'm not really a foodie because I'm way too blue collar in every sense of the word. This is a hobby for me that takes me far away from my nightly realities. Serious Eats Chicago is a breath of fresh air for me, even when people disagree with me (which many people often do).

Thank you Joe Roy for giving a nice, honest assessment of Twin Anchors and old school Chicago style BBQ. It's good BBQ, but in a different way.

Good Eating As Always,

cpd007

Lunch in the Loop: Devouring the Hot Dog Salad at Rudy's Bar & Grille

Congratulations on your new path, Dennis. You've certainly earned it. Someday, when you make the downstate trip to Rip's Tavern in Ladd, IL for the best fried chicken anywhere, can you title the excursion "Lunch Wayyyyyyy Outside The Loop- The World's Best Fried Chicken?"

That way, we can all clog arteries together at a far away location, instead of the usual suspects here in our fair city. It's worth the trip, Dennis- believe me. Ask around (i.e. Titus- the man has traveled everywhere, for Pete's Sake).

Cheers,

cpd007

Staff Picks: What's the Best Burger in Chicago?

The classic LTH neighborhood spot- Paradise Pup in Des Plaines. There's nothing quite like the Pup's char cheddar burger with Wisconsin Merkt's cheddar, grilled onions, and a nice, rich challah bun. Add the oreo shake and the 3 layer fries with sour cream, bacon bits, and Merkt's cheddar on a nice, warm summer day on their outdoor patio and you have burger perfection.

The intense char flavor from the Pup's charcoaling stands out from other places. A true neighborhood gem.

Lunch in the Loop: Perry's Deli

Looks good, Dennis. Congrats on your 200th post. If you can, make that trip to Rip's Tavern in Ladd, IL for your 201st. I promise you will not regret it.

Cheers,

cpd007

Smiling With Hope Bakery: How Pizza-Making Transformed This High School Special Needs Program

@AdamKuban: Great article, Adam. It hits very close to home for me, so I'm really glad to see there is a program out there somewhere in America that helps special needs children in this particular area of their lives.

Thank you Walter. God bless. t

Sincerely,

cpd007

Lunch in the Loop: Harold's Chicken Shack

@FredipusRex: Anyway we can get there- car, train, bicycle, your convertible- It's all worth it, buddy. If I had to, I think I'd crawl there on the side of I-80. It's just so worth it. Funny you mention Lanuti's across the street. I've had their fried chicken- it's good, but not quite as good as Rip's. I should have tried the fried turtle, but I had a fried chicken marathon going so I had to stay on topic- the topic of continually clogging my arteries.

A Sandwich a Day: Shrimp Po Boy at DeLux Bar & Grill

That looks really good. Nice review.

Riverside Family Restaurant

I know it's been covered here in a past Serious Eats Chicago review, but I can't emphasize enough the sheer goodness of a good old fashioned Czech/Bohemian dinner at the Riverside Family Restaurant in suburban Riverside, IL. After all these years, it's still cash only, and if you're near Brookfield Zoo with the family, then stop on in for some classic old world European dining.

Bartoli's Pizzeria In Roscoe Village = Gino's East Circa 1983

For fans of Gino's East, the grandson of Gino's East late co-founder, Fred Bartoli, opened up Bartoli's Pizzeria a few months ago at 1955 W. Addison (Addison and Damen), and the deep dish pizza he is serving today is reminiscent of Gino's East circa early 1980's before the franchising and various corporate owners throughout the years. If you remember the glory days of Gino's East back in those days, then you will probably like this pizza (Yes, FredipusRex, I'm looking right at you). This is NOT the same recipe that Gino's East is using today. This version reminds me of the original Gino's East deep dish pizza based on the late Fred Bartoli's original version, which came from Fred's former head chef, Alice Mae Redmond (Redmond was hired away from Uno's). Fred's grandson has added his own personal touches, and his thin crust with sausage is pretty good, too. Enjoy!

New Lou Malnati's Locations

For all you Lou Malnati's fans in Chicago, the suburbs, and everywhere else in America, there will be three (3) new Lou Malnati's in 2014 to enjoy a deep dish pizza with sausage and buttercrust:

1) Suburban Oak Park- 1038 Lake Street, opening in January 2014;

2) Chicago's West Loop- 1235 W. Randolph, opening in summer 2014; and

3) Chicago's Lincoln Square- 4344 N. Lincoln Ave., opening Fall 2014.

New Pizano's In Lincoln Park

For all you Pizano's fans in Chicago, Rudy Malnati, Jr. just opened a new Pizano's Express in Lincoln Park at 2429 N. Lincoln Ave. It's carry out/delivery only until 5:00 AM, seven days a week.

Fish and Chips In Chicago

Has any one ever tried Duke of Perth at 2913 N. Clark St., www.dukeofperth.com for a good old fashioned beer battered all you can eat fish fry every Wednesday and Friday ? This Lincoln Park Scottish pub has always been my favorite for a beer battered fish fry, not to mention the 75 kinds of Scotch available. Any thoughts ?

Burt's Place On T.V. In December/January

After a very nice conversation with Sharon Katz of Burt's Place, Sharon related that Burt's Place will be featured on the Channel 11 show "Check Please" sometime in December, possibly January ( more likely December ). I usually eat in at Burt's, but this time I carried out because of a family party at my place. We also carried out the exact same order from Pizano's. It was a truly great night of deep dish/pan pizza with friends and family.

Dinner Tonight: Chicken Vesuvio

Though it's not an authentic Italian dish, Chicken Vesuvio tastes like it could be. In actuality, it's a specialty of the Italian-American restaurants in my home town of Chicago, invented sometime in the 1930s and still going strong as a favorite around town. It's a rich, stewed dish with key elements of creamy potatoes, white wine, and plenty of garlic—as well as the final sprinkle of peas to give it color and freshness. More