Half the fun of discovering a new restaurant is sharing it with people you know will enjoy it. As Rachael Ray’s resident restaurant guru, here’s an inside look at what I report back to Rach about some of my favorite restaurant finds and food experiences!
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:12pm
Subject: Some Recent Solid Chicago Eats
Hey RR -
While I always like to try a new restaurant, the ones I want to tell you about this time aren’t new. But they’re some solid places that are new to me since moving back to Chicago, and I decided it was about time for me to give them a try.
Terzo Piano is in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute and is helmed at the kitchen by Chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia and Bar Toma. As I think you know, I’m a big fan of Tony. The man has had one of the top rated restaurants in Chicago for about 25 years, so you’ve gotta figure Terzo would be halfway decent, right?! I actually was lucky enough to interview Tony at Le Cordon Bleu in 2011 and I had asked him one of his favorite things to eat in Chicago at that time. He said (not that he was biased) the Lamb Burger at Terzo Piano was excellent – and it instantly made my mouth water. So when I had a work meeting at Terzo and saw the Lamb Burger on the menu, it was a no-brainer. It was stuffed with goat cheese and had an olive relish, too. The fries were cooked to perfection and the homemade ginger lemon soda was pretty darn good. There were so many other delicious-looking things on the menu that I’ve gotta go back, but this lamb burger was pretty serious for starters.
I had heard a lot about Macku in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Some friends said it was their favorite sushi, but I don’t consider myself a huge sushi connoisseur. I mean, I like it and all, but I’d choose different Asian cuisines over sushi. But with the word on the street being what it was, I had to try it – and I was glad I did. I started with the sweet potato soup, which arrived in front of me in a crazy hot bowl. With a lobster stock base, the soup was sizzling. I then ordered a piece of Hamachi nigiri that came with sautéed banana peppers, an interesting twist. I also had the Mebachi (tuna), served with pickled onions, truffle and soy – now that was pretty good! And then I needed something green, of course, so I added a salad with scallops and a kiwi vinaigrette. Macku kind of reminded me of Sushi Yasuda in NYC, which is an A+ place. I’m not saying it was the same, but the sleekness of it reminded me a little bit. If you’re particular about your sushi, you’ll dig this place.
Now, I had no expectation of getting a seat very easily at Great Lake, despite the fact that I was dining alone, but I wandered in on a Saturday night and was giving the LAST seat of the night, at a communal table, right between two other groups. Great Lake is on the north side of Chicago and received GQ writer Alan Richman’s nod for #1 pizza in America – bold, I know. There are about 14 seats and the man making the pizzas makes each and every one to the beat of his own drum. All of the ingredients are local and of top quality. I started with the seasonal cauliflower salad, served with its own leaves. This was definitely something different, but tasty. As for the pizza, I went for the regular cheese, but added their homemade sausage and red onion (pictured above). Crispy bottom, perfectly chewy crust, sweet tomato sauce and a kick of cheese (not mozzarella). Best in the country? I’ll leave that for you to decide. But hurry up, as they are not extending their lease in the current location, and only time will tell where they end up.
And that’s what’s on my plate!
Terzo Piano (Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago)
159 East Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60601
2239 North Clybourn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614
1477 West Balmoral Avenue
Chicago, IL 60640
Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, by day he runs Yum-o!, Rachael Ray’s charity focused on kids and cooking, and keeps special projects running smoothly for her. By night he hops course to course, place to place, all across the country. He’s Rach’s own personal dining guide! You can also follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate in real-time!