Dolinsky Blasts Trotter Meal; Blog-Love For Italian Family Joints

It would be a great calculated move— kick off your new personal site by going after one of the biggest names in town. But read Steve Dolinsky’s more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger review of a meal at Charlie Trotter and you know that the only calculation he made was the check-in-your-hand, “we paid how much for this?” kind:

“Through just five savory courses and three desserts (I opted to pass on my final course - a milk chocolate semifreddo with candied hazelnuts that I’ve had a thousand times) we experienced a series of lackluster, been-there-before, 1990s-inspired plates that never delivered the imagination of an Alinea, the textural complexities of a Schwa or frankly, the sheer deliciousness and depth of flavor you’d find at Avec or Topolobampo…
“One would have thought, especially after coming off a recent four-star review, that the kitchen would be almost giddy, sending out a little amuse bouche to get the meal off to an exciting start, or perhaps offer a little bubbly to wake up the palate, like they do at Guy Savoy in Paris and Las Vegas. But excitement is not a part of the experience at Trotter’s.”

The recent four-star review was Phil Vettel’s, and it’s clear Dolinsky couldn’t disagree more. [Steve Dolinsky]

Meanwhile, two adventurous blogs turn up a flavorful pair of Italian spots that look well worth checking out. For Titus at Smokin’ Chokin’ and Chowin’ with the King, it’s Rex Italian Foods, a grocery and deli in Norridge just north of the city’s western border at 4431 N. Harlem. He praises the lasagna:

“Rex has some of the best lasagna I have had from the Italian grocers. You get a huge piece that’s sure to make at least two meals for you. The red sauce, made in house is full of deep flavor and been perfected over the years.”

He also touts a kind of Sicilian sheet pizza-meets-calzone called Schiacciata. He concludes of Rex, “everything is great at the King.” [Smokin’ Chokin’ and Chowin’ with the King]

Burt of Burt’s Food Blog focuses on food in the Gurnee area— a fairly thankless task, as this thread he started at Chowhound attests— but it’s hard not to think that Just Like Italy is the reward for years of searching, to judge by his slideshow of everything from pizza to minestrone:

“…all the pastas and sauces are made fresh in house everyday. The same goes for the amazingly flavorful soups (tortellini & minestrone) that I’ve tasted as well. The Panzerotti is really special by the way, according to the daughters, they tell me that their dad the chef, is from the very town in Italy where these originated, and that he takes great pride in them. I loved them.”

[Burt’s Food Blog]

Dolinsky Blasts Trotter Meal; Blog-Love For Italian Family Joints