Category Archives: Authentic Italian Restaurants in Chicago

Loire Valley Wine Tasting in Chicago at the W Hotel on Lake Shore Drive

French red wine from the Loire Valley region o...

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What a great day for the Loire Valley French Wine Tasting on the 33rd floor of W Hotel on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. It was definitely a Vino con Vista opportunity with plenty of French wine and wine-makers. The central part of the  Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes-sur-Loire in France was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List  in  2000.

 

The Loire is the longest river in France and it is characterized by elegant historic chateaux and 300 miles of distinctive terroir that supports numerous vineyards along the river banks. This region is the leading producer of white French wines. The region is cloaked  with lovely vineyards and microclimates that produce distinctive varietals and wine styles. It is one of the most diverse wine regions in France with 69 appelations that include red, white, elegant sparkling wines and refreshing rose wines. There are distinct climates and a variety of soil types that divide the Loire Valley into 5 distinct regions.

The first vines were probably planted during Roman occupation 2000 years ago. Afterwards, the Augustinian and Benedictine Brothers enhanced the wine-making practices in this region.

I tasted some interesting Rose wines and plenty of earthy 100% Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc is one of the world’s major red grape varieties and was introduced to the region in the 11th century. It  is frequently blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to produce a Bordeaux style wine. In the Loire region, it is  not blended with other grapes so it is lighter in color than Bordeaux blends. It is used in the development of Chinon and certain roses in the Touraine appelation.

Today I spoke to Philippe Porche, a charming wine-maker from the Saumur-Champigny region in Parnay located on the south bank of the Loire River decreed an AOC in 1957.  Cabernet Franc is the predominant grape in the area.  He and his viticulturist wife founded the estate in 2005 and produce some interesting Cabernet Franc wines. I favored the garnet-colored full-bodied and velvety  “Le Fou du Roi” that was aged in oak.  This lovely couple is looking for an importer @ www.domainederocheville.fr. Feel free to contact them if you are interested in importing  luscious wines from this region. Tell them that Vino con Vista sent you.

There is a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier and Chicago’s Landmark high rises from the former “Pinnacle Room” of the hotel where I spent my Senior Prom.Chicago Illinois It’s always exciting to re-live your youth.

Chicago Architecture

Domaine de Roche Ville Winery

Lake Michigan

It was such a beautiful spring day that I decided to stroll down Ontario Street heading westbound after the wine-tasting. I longingly gazed at the wide array of restaurants on Ontario Street that I patronize. They run the gamut from divine to sublime. Here’s a sampling of my “Chicago Foodie Nation” favorites:

Les Nomades is an outstanding French Restaurant that offers a Prix Fixe menu of four courses for $115 in a swanky turn-of-the-century brownstones mansion on Ontario Street. It is the perfect place to enjoy French cuisine after a Loire Valley wine-tasting event at the W Hotel down the street.

Chicago Restaurants

Chicago French Restaurants

Another one of my favorites is the Capital Grille Steakhouse where I can’t stop eating the crunchy potato chips at the bar. I love the grilled salmon served over a bed of  veggies with a side of creamed spinach. They have an extensive wine list and have won numerous awards for their outstanding burgers!

Chicago RestaurantsOntario and St. Clair in Chicago

Capital Grille ChicagoChicago Restaurants

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Italian Restaurants in Chicago

Chicago Italian Restaurants

Across the street from the Capital Grille, I enjoy dining on the outdoor patio of the Coco Pazzo Cafe when the weather is nice. They have an outstanding lunch menu and recently won an award from the Italian government for their “Authentic” Italian cuisine. Quartino was another “Authentic” Italian-award winning restaurant. I took cooking lessons with the chef and he taught me to add some water from the pasta to my sauce–what a novel idea!! The Red Head Piano Bar is another one of my favorites night spots. They have great wine-tasintg events.

Authentic Italian Restaurants in ChicagoRestaurants in Chicago

There are plenty of famous classic Chicago  “Steak-Houses” on Ontario. Lawry’s serves an incredible Prime Rib and I love the “Aged Filet Mignon” and mushrooms at David Burke’s Primehouse in the James Hotel. The Chicago Chop House has a wide array of delicious “sizzlin steaks.”

You will never be hungry or thirsty on Ontairo Street in Chicago. This city is a haven for Foodies!

Chicago is a Haven for Foodies

Chicago Steak HouseDavid Burke's Primehouse

Stop in at the the Hard Rock Cafe if you’re up for some live music. There are also some landmark fast food joints on Ontario including “Rock and Roll” McDonalds with a Rock and Roll Museum filled with memorabilia that my guitar-playing son adores.

Portillo’s has a great Italian Beef sandwich and classic Chicago hot dog and the drive-thru is always packed. Make sure you try the decadent chocolate cake . Chicago DestinationsM Burger is another fast food option that people are raving about.

Chicago Hot Dogs and Beef Sandwiches

Burgers in Chicago

Plan a trip to the Loire Valley and explore some of the majestic castles with spectacular medieval architecture: Chambord, Cheverny, Villandry and Chenonceau.

 

1. Villandry was built by the same man that designed much of Chambord (François I Finance Minister Jean Le Breton). Villandry is actually most renowned for what is outside of the castle. However, while Chambord remains Le Breton’s main achievement in construction, it is Villandry where he used all of the Renaissance gardening tricks he had picked up while working as an ambassador in Italy. The castle remained in the Le Breton family until the early 20th century, when it was purchased by Joachim Carvallo, who spent a whole of time, money and devotion to rebuilding, expanding and repairing the beautiful gardens. Today the gardens at Villandry are considered one of the best examples of Renaissance style gardens in the world and boasts a water garden, flower gardens and vegetable gardens laid out in formal patterns created with low box hedges—making it a must-see on any castle tour of the Loire.

2. Chambord is one of France’s most recognizable castles known for its distinct French Renaissance architecture, which blends late French Gothic and newer Italian Renaissance motifs. Chambord is also the largest castle in the Loire. Chambord was first built by King Francois I as a hunting lodge (I know you picture a hunting lodge as being more of a log cabin than a magnificent model of French Renaissance architecture, but it was a KING’S hunting lodge, after all).  Chambord has 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases. It is most known for its façade, which through more than 800 sculpted columns was designed to look like the skyline of Constantinople, with 11 kinds of different towers and different types of chimneys. Chambord also has a double-helix staircase that serves as the centerpiece to the castle and was rumored to have been designed (or inspired) by Leonardo da Vinci during his time at nearby Clos de Luce.

4. Chenonceau is one of my favorite castles in the Loire Valley. Chennonceau was built in 1513 by Catherine Briçonnet and later embellished by Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici, the Chateau de Chenonceau contains exquisite interiors and has idyllic gardens that look over River Cher.

Originally a small castle along the banks of the River Cher, the castle got its current design in the 16th century when it was seized by the crown for unpaid debts. In 1547, King Henri II offered the castle to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. and she had Chenonceau’s  arched bridge built. It spans the river. She is also responsible for the gorgeous flower and vegetable gardens set in buttressed stone terraces.

Upon King Henri II’s death in 1559, his clearly bitter widow and regent Catherine de Medici had Poitiers expelled from the castle and she moved into the scenic spot herself, adding even more extensive gardens. Since then the castle was privately owned for years and even used as a make-shift hospital for soldiers during WWII; its gallery bridge’s southern door provided access to the unoccupied Free Zone while the castle’s main entrance was in the Nazi occupied zone. Chenonceau today is one of the most visited and popular of the Loire castles and its Renaissance architecture and well-lit gallery and beautiful gardens.

5. Amboise is perched up on a strategic point along the Loire River and was originally built as a fort. In 1434, the castle was seized by King Charles VII after its owner (from which the castle got its name), Louis Amboise, was convicted and killed for supposedly plotting against the King. In the 15th century that the castle was lavishly rebuilt and added onto, starting with its late French Gothic architecture, until Italian builders were brought in and the castle’s style changed to Renaissance.While the castle became a favorite retreat for many French Kings (King François I was raised primarily at the castle), Amboise’s most famous guest was Leonardo da Vinci, who came to the castle in 1515 as a guest of the King and stayed in nearby Clos de Luce. What is most notable about Amboise, however, is known for its unique blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture and large formal garden.

6. Blois was always a favorite getaway town for French kings; the castle in this quaint little Loire town is best known as the birthplace of King Louis XII as well as the primary residence for Henri IV’s exiled wife Marie de Medici, and later for the Duke of Orléans (brother of Louis XIII and uncle of Louis XIV). However, the castle has a long and prominent history and its Renaissance architecture and picturesque spot along the banks of the Loire make it a definite worthwhile stop on your Loire castle tour. In fact, the castle was the main resort for the French court during the 16th century and was also the location for the famed States General meetings held by Henri III in 1576 and 1588, where several prominent nobles were sentenced to death. The castle also plays a role in the famous Three Musketeers series by Alexandre Dumas as an important retreat for some of France’s most famous and powerful kings.

7. Cheverny was also given to Diane de Poitiers by her lover, King Henri II. Chenonceau was her favorite and primary residence. Poitiers sold Château de Cheverny to the former owner’s son who had originally built the castle between 1624 and 1630. The castle passed between owners until 1914, when the owner made it the first castle to be opened to the public; the family still owns and operates the castle to this day. The castle is renowned for its beautiful interiors and collection of furniture, tapestries and rare objects d’art. There is also a pack of about 70 dogs that are kept on the grounds and taken out for hunts twice weekly.

 

8. Clos Lucé is not really a  “Château de la Loire”; it is a large mansion located just 500 meters from  the Château d’Amboise by way of an underground passageway and is notable mostly for its most famous resident, Leonardo da Vinci. In 1515, King François I invited the Italian painter and inventor to Amboise and offered him the manor to use as a home and studio. When Da Vinci arrived in 1516 he came with three paintings, including the famed Mona Lisa, and lived in the mansion for the last three years of his life. Visitors to Amboise should not hesitate to hop on over to Clos Lucé, where you can peruse a museum that includes forty models of various machines designed by Leonardo.

9. Langeais is a perfect example of Medieval French architecture. It is located near the Brittany frontier and had a significant role in the battle between the French and English. The structure dates back to the 10th century and was built on a cliff which offered a strategic location overlooking the Loire River. The castle was actually fortified and expanded under the rule of Richard I of England (when English kings ruled this region of France) until King Philippe II of France recaptured the castle in 1206. The castle was also where Anne of Brittany and King Charles VIII wed, thus uniting France and Brittany. Today, the dark and ominous looking castle is replete with a great collection of Medieval tapestries.

Château de Langeais

 

 

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Chicago’s Columbus Day Parade 2015

Painting of Christopher Columbus. The painting...

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Attend the annual Columbus Day Parade in Chicago. The parade celebrates the historic 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus as well as Italian-American Culture. Columbus is from Genoa Italy. Here’s a Genoa Video for all my Italian friends on Columbus Day http://youtu.be/wujacerrsp8

The annual Columbus Day Parade celebrates Christopher Columbus’ historic voyage to America and Italian-American culture. The parade will be on State Street from Wacker to Van Buren.

 

When: October 15, 2015 at 12:30 p.m.

 

Columbus Before the Queen.

Columbus Before the Queen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Statue of "Christopher Columbus" fir...

Statue of “Christopher Columbus” first dispalyed-published 1933. Grant Park, Chicago. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Christopher Columbus ( 1451 –1506) was an explorer, colonizer  and navigator. He was born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy.

English: The routes of the four voyages of Col...

English: The routes of the four voyages of Columbus. Español: Rutas seguidas por Colón en sus cuatro viajes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Columbus_1892_Issue-$5.jpg Christophe...

English: Columbus_1892_Issue-$5.jpg Christopher columbus” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The event is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States. It is celebrated in many countries around the world: Día de la Raza in many countries in Latin America; Discovery Day in the Bahamas; Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain and as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Uruguay.

Christoper Columbus arrives in America

Christoper Columbus arrives in America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com.

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Medinah Temple’s Incredible Moorish Revival Architecture in Chicago

front, Medinah Temple (1912), 600 North Wabash...

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Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

List of Masonic buildings in the United States

List of Masonic buildings in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicago is endowed with an incredible lakefront, beautiful sandy beaches and a magnificent skyline filled with legendary architecture.

Oak Street Beach on Lake Michigan in Chicago

Brilliant architects like Louis Sullivan created an atmosphere for world-class design. Sullivan’s influential designs inspired the Chicago School of architects like Frank Lloyd Wright who have come to be known as the Prairie School.

Although Chicago is loaded with magnificent architecture, one building that stands out for it’s innovative design is the Medinah Temple at 600 N. Wabash.

The Medinah Temple in Chicago

 The building is located in the upscale North Bridge neighborhood of Chicago on the Near North Side where Wabash intersects Ohio Street.

This area is a tourist mecca; loaded with plenty of interesting hotels and stores. There are outstanding restaurants like Joe’s, Benny’s and Flemings in the neighborhood.

The area also is home to some landmark Chicago deep-dish pizza establishments like Pizzeria Uno and Due in this River North neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. The first Uno’s was established in 1943 by former University of Texas football star Ike Sewell and his friend Rick Ricardo.  The original recipe was created by chef Rudy Malnati, the father of Lou Malnati‘s pizzeria, another one of my favorites. Pizzeria Uno claims to have created the original Chicago deep-dish pizza.

 

But one of my all-time  favorite buildings in this area is the Medinah Temple. The Medinah Temple was the venue for the annual Shrine Circus that was affiliated with theAncient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners). The organization is best-known for administering the Shriners Hospitals for Children. The members wear red fezzes (hats) and the fellowship is based upon the “Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth”.

Shriner’s Fezz Hat

I grew up near the Shriners Hospital in Chicago. When I was a young girl, I remember going to their circus in the Medinah Temple and being awestruck by the massive auditorium and the gorgeous Austin Organ Company pipe organ.

 In 2000, the building’s exterior was lovingly restored and the inside of the ornate auditorium was converted into a Bloomingdale’s Home and Furniture Store. The store is loaded with artistic displays that highlight the architectural beauty of the building.

Bloomingdale’s colorful display of art-glass in Chicago

The building designated as a Chicago Landmark on June 27, 2001.

I love the intricate detail on the exterior of the building.

Facade of the Medinah Temple in Chicago

The colorful Islamic Moorish Revival architecture of the Medinah Temple was built in 1912. It was built by the Shriners architects Huehl and Schmidt. The colorful domes, ornate ceiling  and arched stained-glass windows resemble the Alcazar in Segovia Spain.

Ceiling of the Medinah Temple in Chicago

Moorish Revival Architecture in Chicago

Ceiling medallian in the Medinah Temple in Chicago

Stained glass windows in the Medinah Temple in Chicago

Originally, the building served as an ornate auditorium with  U-shape seating  for about 4,200 people on three levels. The building is also famous for the acoustics of the auditorium. The fine acoustics of the Medinah Temple’s auditorium made it a favorite site for recording. Many of the Chicago Symphony‘s most famous recordings conducted by Sir Georg Solti were created in this building.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com. Follow us on Twitter for Blog Updates.

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Chef Week Chicago 2014

Loop skyline from the lakefront, Chicago, IL, USA

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Map of Chicago's community areas, grouped by c...

Map of Chicago’s community areas, grouped by color by “side” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Chicago Theater

English: Chicago Theater (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just when you are recovering from the weight that you gained during Restaurant Week, you should start thinking about making reservations for the

English: From top left: Downtown Chicago, the ...
English: From top left: Downtown Chicago, the Willis Tower, the Chicago Theater, the Chicago “L”, Navy Pier, the Field Museum, and Millenium Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6th annual Chicago Chef’s Week 2014 extravaganza.

WHEN: March 16th – March 21st

Top-notch Chicago restaurants will offer special menus and signature dishes.

For more information visit:  www.chicagochefweek.com

Here is a list of the 2014

Chicago River @ night

Chicago River @ night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

participants:

Celebrate Chicago chefs during Chicago Chef Week 2014

Lunch: 3 courses for $22**  |  Dinner: 4 courses for $44**

<!– BOKA – Dinner only –><!– Vermilion (L) (D) –>

2014 Participants:
720 Bar & GrillAda St. – Dinner only — Antique Taco*** – Lunch only — Atwood Café – Dinner only — Autre Monde – Dinner only — Avec – Dinner only — Azzurra – Dinner only — Balena – Dinner only — BarbakoaBistro Bordeaux – Dinner only — BistronomicBlackbird – Lunch only — The Boarding House – Dinner only — Bread & Wine – Dinner only — The Bristol – Dinner only — Browntrout – Dinner only — Carriage HouseCarlucciChez Moi – Dinner only — Chicago QCicchettiCyrano’s*** – Dinner only — Coppervine – Dinner only — The Dawson – Dinner only — De CeroEmbeyaEpic
Frontier – Dinner only — Gather*** – Dinner only — The GageGemini Bistro – Dinner only — Graham Elliot BistroGrange Hall Burger BarGreen Zebra – Dinner only — GT Fish & Oyster***Homestead on the Roof – Dinner only — Hot ChocolateHowells & Hood – Dinner only — iNG – Dinner only — JamJellyfishLas Palmas – Dinner only — Le ColonialLibertad – Dinner only — Little Market BrasserieThe LobbyLocal RootLockwoodMacku Signature – Dinner only — MercaditoMexiqueMK*** – Dinner only — Mott Street – Dinner only — Nana
Nico Osteria – Lunch only — Nightwood – Dinner only — North Pond – Dinner only — Oceanique – Dinner only — Perennial Virant – Dinner only — The Publican*** – Lunch only — Riccardo Trattoria – Dinner only — Roka AkorRoka Akor Old OrchardRustic House – Dinner only — SepiaSiena TavernSlurping Turtle***Sol de MexicoSophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue – Lunch only — Table Fifty-Two – Dinner only — Table, Donkey and Stick – Dinner only — TakitoTanta – Dinner only — TavernitaTelegraph – Dinner only — TesoriTortoise ClubTroquet River NorthVermilionVie – Dinner only
* 2 lucky guests will be chosen at random to win 52 $50 gift cards from participating restaurants. ** Beverages, tax and gratuity not included in pricing. Participation depends on each restaurant’s hours of operation. *** Offer different than regular Chicago Chef Week promo pricing. Please inquire with individual restaurant.
Image representing OpenTable as depicted in Cr...

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Make your reservations ASAP at www.opentable.com or directly at the restaurant’s website.

Set table at the James Beard House, January 2007

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Many noteworthy Executive Chefs will prepare outstanding meals at bargain prices. A three-course prix fixe lunch will set you back $22 and dinner will be $44.

Buon Appetito from your “Foodie Friends” @ www.vino-con-vista.com.

Image that shows the areas used by UNESCO in o...

Image that shows the areas used by UNESCO in order to localize World Heritage Sites. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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I Love Pelago Ristorante for Italian Cuisine in Chicago

The Lindbergh Beacon atop the Palmolive Buildi...

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There are many outstanding restaurants in Chicago‘s Gold Coast where we normally spent special celebratory dinners. But for my son’s birthday we decided to try a new place in Streeterville. We made reservations at Pelago www.pelagorestaurant.com at 201 East Delaware in the boutique-style Hotel Raffaello.

I lover Streeterville! The elegant neighborhood is bounded by the river on the south, the Magnificent Mile portion of Michigan Avenue on the west and Lake Michigan on the north and east. It’s probably one of the best walking neighborhoods in the city because it is so close to so many of the City’s finest destinations. This charming restaurant is tucked away in one of the attractive, historic buildings on Delaware.

Pelago Restaurant in Chicago

You can dine in the intimate contemporary room designed by the Chef’s architect wife Kim, with a gorgeous  mother-of-pearl tiled fireplace. If the weather permits, make a reservation for the seasonal outdoor terrace.

Chicago Hotels

Chicago Hotels

Best Italian Restaurants in Chicago

Pelago Ristorante in Chicago

You don’t have to travel to Italy to get what Italians consider legendary authentic Italian food. Michelin-starred Italian Chef/Owner Mauro Mafrici recently won an award from the Italian Government for his “Authentic” Italian Menu called the “Ospitalita Italiana” Quality Seal.

Pelago Italian Ristorante in Chicago

The up-scale Italian restaurant has a quaint outdoor terrace nestled on historic East Delaware Place.  Pelago is in the heart of Streeterville‘s sophisticated neighborhood just east of the prestigious Water Tower Shopping District on Michigan Avenue‘s magnificent mile. It is within walking distance to one of my favorite Chicago summer distinations; Oak Street  Beach.

English: The Magnificent Mile is generally con...

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Mauro  hit a Grand Slam with his incredible six-course “Vertical Tasting Menu.”  We had an opportunity to try some ravioli di funghi, lasagna alla Bolognese, gnocchi di patate al gorgonzola e noci, and risotto alle verdure. We also sampled four meat offerings, a plethora of seafood options and some remarkable desserts. Pelago has an impressive wine list. It was definitely a meal fit for a king! I think we’ll be celebrating many birthdays at Pelago.

Buon Appetito from your Foodie Friends at www.vino-con-vista.com

Best Italian Restaurants in Chicago

Italian Restaurants in ChicagoChicago Restaurants

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