Pizza Rustica: Indeed~

Dscf0305 My ears always perk up when I hear about a new pizza joint, especially when it's described as having the "most delicious Venetian-style super thin crust pizza ever." What else can you do when you hear a phrase like that but go immediately?

Pizza Rustica is relatively new, having opened just a few months ago on what used to be a shady part of North Sheridan. It has now turned into a burgeoning Bucktown, with sweet restaurants sprouting up all over the place, as well as adorable outdoor cafes and pastry-filled bakeries. Exactly my kind of street, but seriously, as I state every single day, nothing compares to my perfect 'hood, Roscoe Village.

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Sorry Mexico, I Guess it's Italy

Dscn1893Deep down inside, I have a raging love affair with Mexico and all of it's beautiful beaches, cheap livin' and frosty margaritas BUT, for some reason as of late, I have been waxing poetic about Italy.  Especially when I have desserts like this one.  I'm blaming La Bocca della Verita (which quickly became my fave Italian restaurant).  It's just so damn cute and the food is so fresh and incredible (plus, I could waste entire days on the outdoor patio).  Simple and rustic, very much like Italy.  I've backpacked through Italy and lolled through  all of the wondrous hill towns (one of the best meals of my life was a fresh seafood pasta in one of the tiny villages of Cinque Terre) but when I was actually in the moment, I (as always) couldn't wait to get straight to Greece (the next pit stop on my backpacking tour).  Now, though, I daydream about cakes (like this one from La Bocca--all covered in white chocolate and mascarpone), pastas and wines every single day and sadly, Mexico doesn't give me that romantic vision.  It's a little more sandy beach, cold beer and fresh fish (still wondrous).  I guess I love both, but as I think about buying a small place in a foreign land, Italy is on the horizon.  I guess I could still build a shack in Mexico, but maybe that is what my sailboat is for...less roots, more freedom.

Pompei: It's All About Potatoes

Dscf0070Though the heat in Chicago has blasted through the roof and I can barely stand the thought of eating anything warm, the one  thing I crave over and over is the glorious potato.  I've written all sorts of things about french fries and scalloped potatoes, but there is truly nothing finer than big fat wedges of perfectly cooked potatoes, slathered in olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper.  Caramely crisp on the outside, flaky and soft on the inside...very Vesuvio style (as much as I crave the chicken that usually comes with, I don't touch the stuff) and straight delicious.  Add in icy cold ketchup and that's really all I need for an entire meal.  Pompei, over in Lakeview, has a perfect version for just under $2.  Beware:  They get totally confused when all you order is potatoes...the crazy glances from the line forming behind me is always worth it, though.  Just good stuff.

La Bocca della Verita: Killin' off the Checca

Dscn1889One of my favorite Italian restaurants, La Bocca della Verita, in Lincoln Square has gone and done the worst thing imaginable; they've taken the Checca off the menu.  I was just in there the other day and was so craving the Checca, to find out that they had taken it off the menu was like  a huge slap in the face.  I just wanted to  cry.  I have yet to taste another restaurants version that so perfectly melds the light summer flavors of juicy (skin off) tomatoes, fresh basil, milky mozzarella, and little chunks of garlic.  Turns out the chef heats up extra virgin olive oil, tosses in the al dente pasta and quickly coats it with the oil, THEN tosses in the tomato mixture. We were so devastated that they didn't have it on the menu, the chef took notice and prepared it for us special...on the house, no less.  What a trooper!  Apparently, he has to make each serving to order and peel all of the tomatoes himself, so when they get busy, it bogs down the kitchen.  What a shame, this dish is totally to die for and the perfect summer meal!  Great, guess that means I'm going to have to start making it at home.  I love eating out, though. It makes me happy~