Sun-Times & Reader: Puppies!

It’s Friday, and that can only mean one thing. Say it with us now:
Of today’s four links off of the main dining page, three open to lovely, content-filled pages without needing to manually fiddle with the URL. But one does not. And it’s Pat Bruno’s main review. Grr.

• The failing article in question is a review of Oak Park’s Trattoria 225 (225 Harrison Street, 708 358 8555), a slightly upscale family Italian joint that’s got a wood oven for pizza and a tendency to grill things (not necessarily a bad thing!). It gets a pretty even-handed treatment: some dishes are meh, some are really good (the grilled romaine in the caesar salad gets noted as a neato touch). He declares the wood-fired pizzas “more East Coast-style than Midwest,” but points out that unlike the fresh clams used by the masters of the white clam pizza, Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, CT, the owners of Trattoria 225 go for the canned kind. Ultimately, though, Bruno’s review makes it out to be pretty boring: Worth it if you live nearby, but not nearly exciting or innovative enough to merit a trek from another neighborhood. [Bruno, Sun-Times]

• Speaking of suburban Italian fare, Thomas Witom treks out to Hodgkins in order to visit Salerno-Pincente Ristorante (9301 W 63rd St, 708 354 0099) (fun fact! Google maps places this in Countryside!), which shares its space with “Chicago’s newest off-track betting (OTB) operation,” the bar Trackside. Witom finds the restaurant to be a solid operation, the pasta-heavy menu resolves into giant portions with minimal fanfare. Atmosphere is lacking, and service could be more polished. But hey, you’re probably there for the horses. [Witom, Sun-Times]

This week the Reader is making up for lost time with a threefer: their reviewers visit new hotel-based restaurants C-House (at the Affinia), Perennial (at the Park View Hotel), and ajasteak (at the Dana, and we have just discovered that their website is basically seizure-inducing). Let’s break it down:

• Prominently positioned in “one of the most boring restaurant neighborhoods in the city,” Perennial seems to still be finding its footing. Mike Sula has nice things to say about dishes like Roman-style semolina-beet gnocchi, lamb with eggplant chutney, and a “devastating” (in the good way) watermelon-tomato-olive-oil. But these raves are preceded by some serious criticisms: peekytoe crab and avocado salad that’s “in the running for one of the worst things I’ve eaten all year,” and canneloni that “was a textural nightmare of overmanipulated manky meatstuff.” Eww. [Sula, Reader]

• The review for C-House begins with the usual rundown of Marcus Samuelsson, but OSBMS refrains from calling him a chef, or an executive chef, or even a person. Instead, he’s a media package, meant in presumably the least flattering sense of the phrase, and Sula’s affront at the chef situation underscores the rest of the review. The food? As in other reviews, the land-based offerings score better than those from the sea — unfortunate, considering that seafood is the focus here. Sula’s theory? Samuelsson “thinks we landlocked rubes don’t know from good fish. Then again, with a built-in customer base of tourists and travelers, maybe he isn’t thinking about us at all.” Ouch! [Sula, Reader]

• Anne Spiselman heads to ajasteak, and finds a convenient workaround for those who are in the mood for Kobe, but don’t want to pay $18 an ounce for it: get the yakitori appetizer, request it rare and unseasoned, and you’ll find yourself hauling 2-3 ounces for $18 a serving, instead. She finds the restaurant’s sushi delicious, if expensive, and the service and wine list are both well-executed. The non-steak entrees don’t fare as well, with poorly balanced sweet-and-salty flavors and misleading menu descriptions. Plus the atmosphere felt like sitting “in a corridor” — next time, she’ll sit at the sushi bar. [Spiselman, Reader]

[Photo: We couldn’t find pictures on Flickr of any of these restaurants, so instead here’s a photo of some puppies! Via gervo1865_2’s Flickr]


Sun-Times & Reader: Puppies!