• In the Tribune, Phil Vettel drops two stars for the rustic Italian at Anteprima, which definitely passes the Dolinsky Grace Period Rule — it’s been open for two years. Some misdirected appetizers (they were meant for the next table over) lead Vettel to try some “excellent” grilled octopus. Entrees are solid and homey as well, but the real draw is the bartender, Jasmine, who is “a rock star” — plus dining with her means you avoid the cramped seating and spotty service of the main floor.
• Moving down the street to the Sun-Times, Pat Bruno continues his tour of every single Italian restaurant ever in the world, taking comfort in the red sauce at Cafe Bionda. In an odd journalistic stroke, he refers to the restaurant by name in each of the first five paragraphs. Everything he eats, he likes.
• Bruno also checks out the fare at Coq D’Or, and we learn that his drink of choice is Dewars on the rocks — which, at the Coq, is an outrageous $12. He’s mollified, though, by the meaty buffalo wings and the impressive fish and chips.
• Back to TOC, because yesterday we egregiously overlooked Michael Gebert’s impassioned plea to save CJ’s Eatery, a top-notch soul food restaurant in Humboldt Park that can’t quite seem to muster up the neighborhood traffic to stay afloat. Thanks to the tanking economy, it’s now open only on weekends — but that really should change, considering the killer shrimp & grits. If you were thinking about going to The Publican for brunch this weekend, but the (most likely) around-the-block lines deter you, head 15 minutes northwest instead and check this place out.
[Photo: Shrimp & Grits at CJ’s, kaymack/Yelp]