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Rossi's Sausage Gnocchi recipe

Rossi's Sausage Gnocchi recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Pasta
  • Pasta types
  • Gnocchi

Gnocchi are little pasta dumplings made from potato and flour. They cook quickly and make a delicious change from spaghetti.

75 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 450g sausages
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes or passata
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 450g Italian gnocchi
  • freshly chopped parsley, for garnish
  • freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, for serving

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:30min ›Ready in:50min

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add sausages and cook until browned about 10 minutes. Cut sausages into slices, return to the frying pan, and continue cooking until no longer pink. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen roll.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat; stir in onion and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning; cook until the garlic softens, about 2 minutes. Pour in tomatoes, water, salt, sugar, and remaining 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the pieces float to the top; drain.
  4. Meanwhile, stir sausage slices into sauce to rewarm. Toss gnocchi with sauce, and sprinkle with chopped parsley and grated cheese to serve.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(81)

Reviews in English (59)

Spotted some Gnocchi in Morrisons, having never tried this before, I bought it and then looked up a recipe. It ended up being pretty revolting, it basically just tasted of a tin of tomatoes with onion in and sausages and as for the gnocchi, I might as well have been eating uncooked pastry. Shan't be buying that again in a hurry.-10 Oct 2015


Of course I had to try this one - as my daughter submitted it! Nice, easy family meal. I did add about 1/2 cup of dry red wine. Good recipe, honey.-01 Nov 2007

by HoosierJenny

This dish was fantastic! This was my first time having gnocchi. It is great! Not adding the sugar was my only change. Also, A little goes a long way. I looked at the little dish of gnocchi (1 lb) and thought "There's no way this is feeding 3 adults!". It did! - with leftovers! Thanks for the fantastic recipe.-10 Mar 2008

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ZZQ is arguably the best place to find Texas barbecue outside of the Lone Star State&mdashthey even make their own sausages in house, like these spicy Smoked Habanero Fontina Sausages.

Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pizza

I first noticed this combination of broccoli rabe and sausage on a pizza on our last trip to Italy, and although I was intrigued, I never got around to trying it. I knew when I returned home though, that I would try it out on my own pizza, and this past weekend we had a family pizza night and I chose these toppings for my pizza. My family loves greens of all types, although I think boccoli rabe would have to be considered one of our favorites. I have never tried using this delicious vegetable on a pizza before but when I finally did, it was a real hit with everyone, and I know I will be making this pizza many times in the future. I used spicy sausages on our pizzas because my family likes a little heat, but mild sausages would work well also.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Pittsburgh's pasta power

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For some Pittsburgh households, the sight of a hand-cranked pasta machine on the kitchen countertop is as normal as seeing a toaster or blender.

"My mom always made fresh pasta," says Steve Salvi of North Huntingdon, who owns FEDE Corp., a custom pasta company for area restaurateurs. "My mom would make so much pasta that you couldn't sneeze! Every place, there was pasta laid out. I'd be hand-cranking while she fed it through. I wanted to see how fast I could crank it.

As a result of his childhood memories, he says, "I appreciate the simpler things, to make it right and do it fresh."

Back in the day, professional pasta production in Pittsburgh was anchored by a company called Vimco, which had a manufacturing plant in Collier, including living quarters atop the factory. It was sold to Borden in 1985 before closing in 1991. The brand has since been sold to another company.

But Vimco's demise still left several longtime family pasta makers in business, and new pioneers are beginning to fill niches opened by consumers and chefs who want their noodles fresh, local, made-to-order and free of artificial ingredients. They range from a teeny Italian grocery store in Bloomfield to a federally inspected plant in Verona, but it all started with mama's machine on the counter.

Groceria Italiana, 237 Cedarville St., Bloomfield, has been turning out handmade pasta for at least a quarter of a century. You can watch Gloria Mazzotta feed the dough into a modest-sized machine beginning at 6:30 a.m. every Monday until she's turned out as much linguine, fettuccine, spaghetti, angel hair and vermicelli -- some of them flavored -- as needed to re-stock the freezers.

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, she and owner Rosemary Rossi of Scott make ravioli, featuring Rossi's simple cheese filling or fancier stuff, such as roasted red pepper, artichoke and gorgonzola, or -- the most expensive -- prosciutto.

Mazzotta, of Shaler, is protective of her pasta.

"I don't want anyone touching my spaghetti," she says. "You know how people are. I get real upset."

On a good day, she can crank out about 200 pounds. She packs it into boxes before anyone can get near it. From there, it's into the freezer, where patrons can then help themselves.

Rossi bought Groceria Italiana 10 years ago, and Mazzotta -- the pasta maker for 26 years -- came with it. Mazzotta makes fresh pasta sheets right there in front of you, if you want. But no orders are taken by phone or in advance -- not even for ravioli, says Rossi, former owner of JJ Rose's restaurant in Mt. Lebanon.

"We stopped that two years ago," Rossi says. "I just tell (customers) to get it while it lasts. Sure, they get upset."

"We're from the old school," she says. "I used to shop here with my children. When I found out the store was for sale, I said I'd buy it. I wanted it for my son. They asked, 'Don't you want to see it?' I told them, 'No, I know what it looks like.' Now the young kids come in and remember when they were brought in by their grandfathers."

The store features a kitchen and bakery downstairs where Tuscan bread, fried dough, sauces and fried chicken are made daily, as well as more meatballs than Rossi can count.

"I pray when I make the meatballs," she says. "It makes the job easier."

The sweet and hot Italian sausage, kielbasa and sopressatta -- a dry-cured salami -- are store-made, too.

"It takes at least 45 days for the sopressatta."

Rossi isn't surprised when told that the store is a dying breed.

"It's a great store," she says, "that old neighborhood store. When this store closes, there will be nothing left like it."

Victor Ravioli Foods Inc. is just around the bend on Wildwood Avenue in Verona as it becomes Verona Road and heads to Penn Hills. A tiny neon "open" sign indicates that its outlet shop is ready for business -- during the same times the attached factory is cranking out pounds of noodles.

You'll be greeted by Lou Victor, son of the late founder, or his wife, Beth, or his mother, Ida, and can stroll along the freezers to view a large variety of frozen and dried pasta products -- some ready-to-bake, such as a lasagna dinner for two, and some ready-to-eat, such as ravioli, after a short swim in boiling water.

"My family has owned this for over 50 years," says Lou Victor. It's the third site for the plant, started by his parents. His mom still comes in two days a week to work the phones and the front of the store.

"I grew up on homemade pasta," Victor says. "My grandmother lived with us and cooked all the time. She was from northern Italy, around Milan. So, I grew up around pasta making and the business." He and Beth are in charge of the company, which employs about six people.

"It's been a good while," he says, "since I was in my 20s."

Victor Ravioli Foods began operating with Victor's grandmother's recipes that his parents had kept.

"We started with just a few products, but we've expanded to more than 50," he says.

The factory makes pasta -- as much as 1,000 pounds a day -- mostly for restaurants and grocery stores in a 100-mile radius. The Victors, of Sarver, also offer catering services under the name of The Italian Cafe Catering. Some clients ask for custom-made pasta, which the Victors can accommodate.

Recently, they added pumpkin ravioli, asparagus ravioli, veal ravioli and seafood ravioli to their line signature dishes are veal and spinach cannelloni and stuffed shells that are made by hand in the back kitchen.

"Cheese ravioli are the best-sellers," Victor says.

He features four straight flat cuts -- angel hair, spaghetti, linguine and fettuccine. Flavors include whole-wheat, spinach, sweet bell pepper, garlic and black pepper, parsley and black pepper, black pepper, tomato basil, red pepper, and garlic and parsley.

The couple has four children, ages 22 to 26, but none has stepped up to take over from dad and mom, Lou Victor says.

"But they give us a hand when we need it," he says. "They come down to help."

Victor Ravioli does not sell fresh pasta.

"Fresh needs to be used that day," Victor says. "After that, it starts to deteriorate. We sell it frozen or dried."

Pasta lovers might want to stock up on their favorites very soon, he says.

"Flour prices are up 300 percent from last year. It's the biofuels. You'll be seeing it in pizza shop prices, too."

Steve Salvi is 100 percent Italian, and the Elizabeth Forward native remembers his mother taking care of everyone.

"Dinner was always ready," he says. When he went off to college, he had to fend for himself, and Mom was a hard act to follow. It didn't take long, though, for him to recall the days when he would make pasta with her at home, and he eventually mastered it in his own kitchen.

Salvi, of North Huntingdon, earned a degree in accounting and business from the University of Pittsburgh, and found a job. One day, it was over.

"I couldn't sit behind a desk anymore," he says. "I walked down to a restaurant to see if they were hiring."

It happened to be Morton's The Steakhouse in Downtown Pittsburgh.

"The chef handed me a knife and asked me how fast I could cut up mushrooms and whether I could pass a drug test. And could I start on Monday?"

Salvi's restaurant career was in motion. He worked nights at Morton's and eventually days at Lidia's Pittsburgh. The latter was under chef Christopher Juliano, fresh from Babbo in Manhattan where Mario Batali was in charge.

"That was my training, my hands-on experience," Salvi says. "I learned how to cook according to my senses."

Eventually going to full time at Lidia's, he says, "I was pretty green. I watched and learned as much as I could."

He also made friends among Pittsburgh chefs, who helped him launch his own company, FEDE Corp., in the fall of 2005. FEDE manufactures custom pastas -- myriad sizes, shapes and flavors -- for about 60 fine-dining establishments in western Pennsylvania. Business has skyrocketed.

"Fede in Italian means 'faith,'" Salvi says. A Christian, he says he asks God day to day to provide for him, for his family and the business, and leans on the Lord to get him through. "I never tell a client 'no' or 'I can't,'" he says. "The last thing a chef wants to hear is 'no.' I have my phone on all the time."

Salvi has no retail sales -- he has one other person, Paul Mularski, working with him to order and stock the ingredients they buy from Pennsylvania Macaroni, produce the pasta, clean up, package the products and distribute them.

"I like dealing with chefs," he says. "I ask what they are looking for, to describe the ingredients. Most Italian chefs want to make their own pasta. But you can't take four or five hours a day making pasta and add that to a 12- to 15-hour workday. This is my niche. As long as I can find out what they want, I get it."

FEDE -- which uses flour from Naples, Italy, and imported hand machinery -- can produce as much as 400 pounds of pasta a day. Salvi distributes it in a nondescript white refrigerated truck that can hold 300 to 400 big boxes of precious cargo. He gets whatever bronze dies a chef wants for eclectic pasta shapes -- the latest being trenne, casereccia, giglio and pasta al cepo. "The flavors you can have are unlimited."

Despite the success, Salvi appears to be as humble as his truck. "Advertising" consists of bringing samples to chefs and letting them "play with them," or he'll cook up a dish himself for them to try. So far, it's been word-of-mouth.

"They either like it or they don't," he says.

The majority of FEDE's clients are small establishments, "40- to 60-seaters," Salvi says, but he does work with a few hotels, catering companies and Heinz Field vendors. The customers he cherishes the most, however, are those who sang his praises early in his new career -- chefs from Six Penn Kitchen, The Capital Grille, Rico's, La Cucina Dolce and the Passport Cafe, among others.

"I couldn't have done this without them."

It's likely you've purchased pasta from Callifonte Foods in Vandergrift, but the label didn't say so. Thousands of western Pennsylvanians who subscribe to the weekly cybermarket called tote home fresh fettuccine, rotini, rigatoni, angel hair and ziti under the StripFresh label, unaware that it's a local product made since 1984.

Bill Fontana started the fresh/frozen pasta company in the mid-'80s. He even had a retail shop.

"There are lots of Italians in Vandergrift," he says. "And I drew from all over."

The company had 20 years of service when Fontana decided to partner with Tony Callipare, who had worked for a food wholesale company.

Callipare had something Fontana didn't -- grocery store contacts -- so the two joined forces in 2004 and now supply about a dozen restaurants, supermarkets, farmers markets and fund-raising organizations in western Pennsylvania with pasta and sauce. They also have a line of gift baskets -- with dried pasta -- that can be delivered nationwide.

Oh, and they make most of the products, too.

The men sell 200 to 400 pounds a week of pasta alone to , including plain and flavored noodles, Fontana says.

"We use real potatoes, not potato flakes," he says, "and we buy as much locally as possible -- flour in Monessen and ricotta cheese" in Verona.

Theirs are family recipes -- their gnocchi is from Tony's mother -- and Callifonte Foods, a merging of their last names, also makes proprietary products.

"My mother doesn't measure, so she told me how to make the gnocchi without giving me the amounts of ingredients," Callipare says. "I called her up and asked for them, and she said, 'You put a little bit of this in your hands . '

"We finally had to come up to her place and make it, weighing and measuring everything as she went. Our machine can make 150 pounds at a time, but she told me she could make it faster."

Some of the pasta, sold under the Fontana label, can be found at grocery and specialty food stores, including McGinnis Sisters in Monroeville and Brentwood, Golden Dawn in Ellwood City, New Kensington and West Kittanning, and through CSA programs handled by Penn's Corner Farm Alliance. It also is sold year-round at the indoor Farmers Market Co-op in East Liberty each Saturday morning.

Frozen products include sweet potato gnocchi, cheese tortellini, jalapeno cheddar ravioli, crab ravioli and cheese spinach stuffed shells, as well as wedding soup, meatballs, sauces and cavatelli.

Callipare and Fontana say they aren't worried about the competition.

"It's the taste," Fontana says. "Our philosophy is buy local, buy quality."

And Fontana is far from running out of prospective customers.

"I haven't even scratched the surface with Tony," he says.

In Westmoreland County, there exists a little Italy of sorts in the tiny hamlet of Crabtree -- population around 320 -- featuring a family-owned popular restaurant that opened as a bar and country store in 1935. The family's pasta and sauce company, at the site along Route 119, began in 1964.

Rizzi and Jerry (Jr.) DeFabo are the fourth generation to continue the operation of Rossi's Malabar Inn restaurant and products. (They are not associated with Lucy's Foods, another company that manufactures and distributes products under the Rossi's label.)

At first, the brothers produced pasta and sauce for the restaurant -- cavatelli and gnocchi were offered at retail -- and then three sauces were bottled for sale starting in 1995.

"We're going to be branching out in pasta," Rizzi DeFabo says. "Ravioli and linguine are in the making."

Rizzi and Jerry Jr. -- the latter is the prime family member in production -- work with thousands of wholesale and retail customers. They turn out about 30,000 pounds of gnocchi and 25,000 pounds of cavatelli, available frozen, every year. They have added two new sauces to the line.

"We use our family's recipes," says Rizzi DeFabo, who also handles catering and special events at the restaurant. "The gnocchi is more popular -- that's from dad's (Jerry Sr.'s) family. The cavatelli is from our mother's side."

The DeFabos trace their ancestry to the Italian provinces of Teramo and Campobasso.

Rossi's Malabar Inn products are sold in a variety of supermarkets in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, and they can be ordered online. The DeFabos say they try to use as many regional products as possible.

"We use local semolina and what's available on the market," Jerry Jr. says. "And no preservatives."

Pasta in the home kitchen

Home cooks can learn how to make ravioli, manicotti and lasagna from one basic recipe for dough, as well as spaghetti, fettuccine and angel hair at a cooking class by Sergio Maragni at Crate cooking school, 1960 Greentree Road, Green Tree, from 6:30-9 p.m. April 21. Students also will see how to add color and flavor to pasta. This is an interactive class, so some participants will help in the kneading, rolling and cutting of the pasta. The cost is $40, and registration is required. Maragni will make some sauces to serve with the fresh pasta, including bolognese, marinara, vodka and pesto.

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How to Make This Italian Deli Sandwich at Home

It’s not the same outside the white paper wrapper, but if you’re not in Poughkeepsie, the sandwich is easy to re-create at home. You can buy olive salad (sometimes labeled on jars as muffuletta olive salad), but you can also stir together chopped olives (I like equal parts Kalamatas and Manzanillas — those are the pimento-stuffed green ones), some grated garlic, a couple of chopped pickled peppers (like peperoncini or Peppadews), a spoonful of chopped capers, and a good splash each of red wine vinegar and olive oil, plus a pinch each of dried oregano, red chile flakes, and sugar to balance it.

Then turn the broiler on. Roughly chop a bunch of broccoli rabe, toss it with olive oil and salt, broil until softened and browned in spots, then toss it in a big bowl with grated garlic and a pinch of chile flakes. Cover so it steams a little while you toast the focaccia. Split a big piece of focaccia into halves and set them, cut-side up, on the same tray you cooked the broccoli rabe on. On the top half, pile some grated sharp provolone. Slide the tray under the broiler until the cheese is just melted and the bread is toasty, then assemble: Bottom piece of focaccia, thick layers of olive salad and broccoli rabe, and the cheesy top piece of focaccia. Hold the sandwich with both hands and eat it in big bites.

Caroline Lange is a writer, cook, and recipe tester and developer. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Freshly Ground

I've had my hands pretty full over the past few weeks, particularly with prepping and shooting another two days of The Winding City (which I've previously posted about here). We shot over the last two Sundays, and that doesn't leave much time on the weekend for the important stuff like hanging out with the family or posting to my blog.

I've also been making more of an effort to spend time writing fiction, which has meant that I haven't been allocating so much time to Freshly Ground. But the camera keeps coming out in both our kitchen and in the kitchens of unsuspecting friends and relatives. I have PILES of photos and recipes to get through, so hang in there.

We're also going to be away for a couple of weeks very soon, but I'll future-post a few items to cover that time, just for you.

Moving right along, we often have the discussion that it's just not worth buying takeout burgers because even the Big Guys (Like BK, McDs, and even Burger Fuel) can't make as good a burger as the ones we make at home. Then we sometimes have the discussion that even though we make great burgers at home, occasionally we don't have three hours to bake bread and half an hour to make fresh meat patties, fry them and grill them. But when we do, Oh Boy!!

World's Best Homemade Burgers

Firstly, put on some bread dough, using the same failsafe recipe that I use for my pizza bases and loaves of bread (it looks like I might've added some dried herbs to these ones too). Shape these into buns about half the size of your fist, set to rise for an hour and bake at 200C for 18 minutes.
For the patties, mix up the following:
200g Beef Mince
Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper
1 Large Free Range Egg
1 T Worcester Sauce
1/2 t Paprika
1/2 t Dried Mixed Herbs
1 t Mustard Powder
2 T Potato Starch
(To make these Gluten Free, just leave out the Worcester Sauce)

Shape into patties using a couple of spoons drenched in flour, and lay on a floured plate until you're ready to start cooking (for Gluten Free, use a GF baking mix for this step).
Fry the patties for about 10 mins on each side in hot rice bran oil, with a chopped onion cooking around the sides of the pan.

Place a slice of cheese on top of each patty for the last 8 mins of cooking, to melt.
Slice the buns, butter and dress with mayonnaise, sauce, relish, sour cream, aioli, or whatever you prefer, and layer in lettuce, tomato slices, a beef patty, cucumber slices, and beetroot. And when you're done with that lot, ask yourself why you would ever want a Big Mac again.

Homemade Pasta Dough

Ingredients US Metric

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon Italian “00” flour* (or half Italian “00” flour and half Farina di Semola)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt


Sift the flour onto a clean work surface and use your fist to make a well in the center.

Break the eggs into the well. Add the oil and a pinch of salt to the well. If you’re coloring your homemade pasta dough, you’ll want to add the ingredient now. (See How To Color Homemade Pasta Dough below.)

Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour using the fingers of one hand, bringing the ingredients together into a firm dough. If the dough feels too dry, simply add a little water, a few drops at a time, up to a couple tablespoons if the dough feels too wet, add a little more flour. Don’t worry, you’ll soon grow accustomed to how the dough should feel after you’ve made it a few times.) Note that you don’t want to add too much flour or your pasta will be tough and taste floury.

Knead the pasta dough until it’s smooth, 2 to 5 minutes. Lightly massage it with a touch of olive oil, tuck the dough in a resealable plastic bag, and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The pasta will be much more elastic after resting than it was before.

[Editor’s Note: You could opt to roll the pasta dough by hand using a long wooden rolling pin, although a pasta machine makes for far less work.] Feed the pasta dough through a pasta machine set on the widest setting. As the sheet of pasta dough comes out of the machine, fold it into thirds and then feed it through the rollers again, still on the widest setting. Pass the pasta through this same setting a total of 4 or 5 times. This takes the place of kneading the pasta dough and ensures the resulting pasta is silky smooth.

Pass the sheet of pasta dough through the machine again, repeatedly, gradually reducing the settings, one pass at a time, until the pasta achieves the desired thickness. Your sheet of pasta dough will become quite long—if you have trouble keeping the dough from folding onto itself or if you are making ravioli, cut the sheet of dough in half and feed each half through separately. Generally the second-from-last setting is best for tagliatelle and the last setting is best for ravioli and any other shapes that are to be filled.

After the sheet of pasta dough has reached the requisite thickness, hang it over a broom handle or the back of a chair to dry a little—this will make cutting it easier in humid weather, as it will not be so sticky. Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can dust the pasta with a little flour and place it on clean kitchen towels and let it rest for just a short spell.

Shape the pasta by hand (see instructions below) or pass the pasta through the chosen cutters (tagliolini, tagliatelle, etc.) and then drape the cut pasta over the broom handle or chair back again to dry just a little, until ready to cook. (Alternatively, you can toss the cut pasta again lightly in flour—preferably semolina flour—and lay it out in loose bundles on a tray lined with a clean kitchen towel.) Use the pasta as soon as possible before it sticks together or place it in a resealable plastic bag and stash it in the freezer.

Tagliatelle On a lightly floured surface, roll or fold one side of the sheet of dough loosely towards the center of the sheet, then repeat with the other side so that they almost meet in the middle. Gently fold one side on top of the other, but do not press down on the fold. Cut the dough into thin slices with a sharp knife, slicing through the folded dough quickly and deftly in a single motion. (It takes very little practice to get the hang of this.) Immediately unravel the slices to reveal the pasta ribbons. (You can do this by inserting the dull side of a large knife into each slice and gently shaking it loose. If you wait, they will stick together. Trust us.) Hang the pasta to dry a little before cooking or dust it well with semolina flour and arrange in loose nests on a tray lined with a clean kitchen towel.

Pappardelle On a lightly floured surface, cut the dough into wide ribbons using a fluted pastry cutter. Hang the pasta to dry a little before cooking.

Tortellini On a lightly floured surface, stamp out rounds of pasta using a round cookie cutter. Pipe or spoon your favorite filling into the middle of each round. Brush the edges with beaten egg and carefully fold the round into a crescent shape, pressing the dough around the filling to push out any trapped air. Using your fingertips, bend the 2 corners of the crescent around to meet one another in the center and press well to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough. Let dry on a floured kitchen towel for about 30 minutes before cooking.

Ravioli If your pasta dough is still in a single sheet, cut it into 2 equal portions. Cover one portion of the dough with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap while you work with the rest of the dough. Spoon small mounds (about 1 teaspoon) of filling on the dough in even rows, spacing them at 1 1/2-inch intervals. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the dough between the mounds with beaten egg. Using a rolling pin, carefully drape the reserved sheet of dough on top of the mounds, pressing down firmly between the pockets of filling to push out any trapped air. Use a serrated ravioli cutter, a pastry cutter, or a sharp knife, cut the ravioli into squares. Transfer the ravioli to a floured kitchen towel to rest for 1 hour before cooking.

You will need about 4 quarts water and 3 tablespoons of salt for every 13 to 18 ounces of fresh or dried pasta. It is the large volume of water that will prevent the pasta from sticking together. Bring the salted water to a boil in a large pot or saucepan. Throw the pasta into the water. Stir the pasta immediately after you add it to the water and perhaps once again. Stir the pasta only once or twice. If you’ve used enough water and you stir the pasta as it goes in, it shouldn’t stick.

DO NOT COVER the pot or the water will boil over. Quickly bring the pasta back to a rolling boil, stir, and boil until al dente, or firm to the bite, about 2 minutes. The pasta should not have a hard center or be soggy and floppy. If following a specified cooking time, calculate it from the moment the pasta starts to boil again and have a colander ready for draining.

Drain the pasta, holding back 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan (the dissolved starch in the water helps the sauce cling to the pasta). Dress the pasta straight away with the sauce directly in the pan. (The Italian way is ALWAYS to toss the cooked, hot pasta with the sauce before serving.) Serve the hot pasta immediately with your favorite sauce. Even a copious drizzle of olive oil or melted butter—cooked just to the point of taking on a slightly nutty, toasty brown tinge—and a smattering of fresh herbs constitutes a sauce when the pasta is as tender and tasty as this.

How To Color Homemade Pasta Dough

Spinach Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface. Next, puree 3/4 cup frozen cooked leaf spinach (squeezed to remove as much moisture as possible) in a food processor. Add it to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough method.

Tomato Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Add 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste or sun-dried tomato paste to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.

Beet Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Roast 1 red beet until softened, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel and grate or puree in a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons grated cooked beet to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.

Saffron Pasta Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Soak 1 sachet of powdered saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water for 15 minutes. Strain the water, discarding the solids. Whisk the eggs with the vibrant saffron water before adding to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.

Herb Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Add at least 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh green herbs to the well in the flour.

Black squid ink pasta Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Add 1 sachet squid ink to the eggs and whisk to combine before adding to the flour. You may need to add a little extra flour to the pasta dough.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is a straightforward, lovely, easy, basic homemade pasta dough recipe. I made it with my 9-year-old granddaughter, who became a master of cranking the pasta machine.

I hunted down the Italian 00 flour and the farina di semola so that we could test the proper flours. I also used large eggs instead of medium. It took only 1 to 2 minutes of kneading the dough. We made the basic medium-wide noodles, and will make the pasta dough again to try some of the other shapes. All in all, it was a great hit for dinner with a hint of butter, chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, and freshly grated cheese. It’s definitely a keeper.

This is a homemade pasta dough recipe that works.

I used a 50/50 mix of Italian 00 flour and semolina. I also used large eggs. It took some kneading to get the dough to come together at first, so I can see how one might need extra water if medium eggs are used. I only kneaded it for 5 minutes and after that the dough was stiff but cohesive—there were no hanging straggly parts or anything like that. I find pasta dough benefits hugely from a rest so I didn’t knead it any further. This is also the first time I’ve seen the suggestion of rubbing olive oil over dough before resting. I don’t know if that’s what made everything nice and soft, or if it was the rest itself, but the dough ended up smooth and supple.

I did have to use the thickest setting of the pasta roller for the first pass (I used my KitchenAid attachment, not the manual crank one), but after that the homemade pasta dough rolled out very nicely, even when using the second-thinnest setting. I cut half the pasta into fettuccine using the attachment, while the other half I hand-cut into tagliatelle. The sheets seemed to dry faster than I’m used to, but that could’ve been due to the weather, as it was a little warm and dry in the kitchen.

The recipe headnote says that for every egg used, you’ll end up with about 1 entree portion of pasta. I ended up with enough pasta to serve 4 people—and we were hungry! It took 2 minutes for the noodles to cook al dente after the water came back to a boil.

Fresh pasta is always great, and this didn’t disappoint. There’s a nice bite to the noodles, and they’re not heavy on the egg flavor. It’s the first time I’ve made pasta using the flour-well method (I usually whiz it together in a food processor) and it worked really well. We ate some of it buttered with Parmesan and some with spinach and cream.

This recipe yielded beautiful pasta with a delicate texture. This dough made beautiful pasta which my family thoroughly enjoyed. I will definitely make this again.

I didn't have 00 pasta flour on hand, so I used a regular AP flour and large eggs. My pasta dough was initially very dry and wasn't coming together very well. With the addition a few drops of water at a time (about 1/4 cup total), the pasta dough finally came together. I kneaded it for about 5 to 7 minutes and still wasn't sure if the dough was going to be too dry, but I massaged the outside of the dough with a little olive oil and popped it into a resealable plastic bag. Half an hour later, I had a mound of homemade pasta dough that felt ready to work with. The rest time really did help.

This homemade pasta dough recipe was my first attempt at semolina pasta made from scratch and I was very pleased with the results.

I used half 00 flour and half semolina and adjusted the recipe for flavored pasta. I added 2 tbsp pureed carrots and it was delicious with spicy sausage and a creamy tomato sauce. The pasta dried much more quickly than egg pasta, which made cutting it into linguine (using my Kitchen Aid attachment) much easier as there was no sticking. I can't wait to try other flavors!

The homemade pasta dough came together beautifully, though next time I’d omit the oil. After a 5-minute knead, the dough was smooth and elastic, but needed a little rest. When I rolled it out in the pasta maker, it was beautiful to work with.

Though the recipe suggests you send the whole thing through the machine at once, I found it much easier to divide the dough into 6 walnut-size pieces. I then cut the sheets into pappardelle, but when cooking I pulled the noodles out before they were ready, at about 5 minutes, then sautéed them in a pan with ramp bulbs, butter, and a bit of the cooking water. I served this with toasted bread crumbs, and loads of cheese.

I’d totally make this again—this homemade pasta dough was so effortless that I’d only bother freezing this if I was making stuffed pasta, like ravioli. In my testing, I doubled the recipe and used half semolina flour. I also had some ramps, so I blanched the greens and used them like you would in the recipe’s spinach variation. The amount of ramp greens I had was well under the 3 to 4 cups of spinach called for, but the bossy flavor of the ramps more than made up for it. The color was a pale mint green with flecks.


#LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


Hi! I was wondering if it’s possible to make & cut the pasta ahead of time? And if so, how would you recommend storing it? Thanks so much for this great recipe — it’s become one of our go-to’s!

Thanks, Bryn! I’m so pleased that you love this. You can make the pasta ahead of time. If it’s just a few hours ahead of time, you can lay it on a baking sheet and dust with flour, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Any longer than that, I’d recommend freezing it. Coat in flour (if using long strands you can make little nests) and stash in a resealable plastic bag and freeze.

Freshly Ground

Freshly Ground will be operating in Auto-Publish Mode for the next two weeks or so, as we will be away in the blue yonder, many miles from cellphone coverage and internet access. Please feel free to leave comments, but don't be offended if they don't turn up here until April.

Have a good couple of weeks. I hope you find the stuff I have lined up as appetising as I did cooking and eating it.

A Curry Odyssey - Episode 4

When I set out looking for recipes for the next stage in my Great Curry Odyssey, I was completely blown away by the sheer volume and variety of different korma recipes out there. It seems that 'korma' is really just a vague, generic term for a type of curry that has a nutty base with some tomato paste thrown in for good measure, and which, in more northern areas of the subcontinent, utilises saffron, while this is substituted for turmeric further south.

More than this, I cannot tell you.

So, in my quest for the ultimate mash-up, which I hoped would turn out like the kormas I have enjoyed in the past, and not like those which I have not enjoyed, I engaged in a very practical bit of culinary engineering to create the recipe below.

It went basically like this: Of all the ingredients I've read in all the dozens of recipes I've googled, how many of these do I actually have on hand?

Based on that, and the lovely lamb I had picked up at the market that very morning, I dived into my first ever attempt at an authentic, ground-up korma curry. I also made raita and roti bread, and even my own tomato paste, all of which I'll also cover in future installments of the Great Curry Odyssey. It was a busy kitchen that Saturday afternoon.

(Yes, other men watch sport. I cook. Get over it.)

The results: I wouldn't be overstating it to say that this recipe came out this side of superb, what with it being a first try and all that. I think that with a bit more practice I could probably pare back the prep times and wotnot, but the results were well worth the effort. You can't get a meal with this sort of depth and texture by dumping a few spoonfuls of curry powder in a pot and leaving it on the stove for an hour, that's for sure.

For the Cashew Sauce:
2 Cloves of Garlic
1t Fresh Crushed Ginger
1/8C unsalted Cashews
1 dried chilli, chopped (more or less according to your taste for fire)
2/3C Water
Pulverise all of the above together to make a paste and set aside.

For the Masala:
1/2 Cinnamon Quill
1/2t Coriander Seeds
1 Whole Green Cardamon Pod
2 Cloves
1t Olive Oil/Rice Bran Oil
Pulverise all of the above together and set aside.

For the rest:
400g Fresh Diced Lamb (Stewing)
1 Onion, chopped
25g Butter
1/3C Plain Yoghurt
1T Tomato Paste (I used the paste I had made that very same day! Watch this space.)
Fry the onion in the butter in a large pan. As the onion starts to soften, add the Masala of spices and mix thoroughly. Add the yoghurt and tomato paste and turn the heat down.
In a second, smaller pan, brown the meat in batches over a high heat. Remove the meat as it becomes seared all over, and when all the meat is done, return it all to the small pan and add the onion mixture.
Finally add the cashew sauce in stages, adding a bit and allowing the mixture to reduce before adding more. This should be about 1/4C at a time.
Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a lovely, sticky consistency with delicious tender chunks of meat - probably about 2 1/2 hours.
Serve with the fresh raita you just pulled out of the fridge, and the rotis that you just pulled from the frying pan. If you really feel the urge, you can do something resembling a vegetable or two to go with this, but after all that work, you probably just want to sit down and enjoy a lovely spicy curry with hot roti bread and cold, minty raita. I know that's all we did.

Good Italian food in the 'burbs

With it being next to impossible to find good Italian food in the suburbs (or much anywhere else for that matter), I thought I'd post a report on one of the few places worth trying.

It is called "Ristorante Toscano" and it in located in North Wales near the Montgomeryville Mall. It is in a strip mall (Montgomery Commons) and is BYOB. I used to work there before the previous owners sold it about 5 years ago. Back then, it was as good (probably better) than anything of it's kind in the city. Now, a notch down, it is still serving good food. We ate there Friday night and enjoyed ourselves.

The appetizers (butter nut squash filled angliotti in cream sauce and eggplant parmasean) were both very good. Entrees (veal with yellow tomatoes, red peppers and spinach, scallops in a chilli lime butter) were also quite good. Dessert was also pretty good (some homemade, some imported store bought). The tab was $65 which is good for what we got.

So, if your in the area it's a worthwhile place to go to get good Northern Italian fare at reasonable prices.

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For a mouth-watering goat specialty from a region of Mexico: Birrieria Zaragoza

The best goat in the city is coming from the kitchen of a mom-and-pop operation in Archer Heights. The menu is mostly limited to birria, a regional dish from the Mexican state of Jalisco. Owner Juan Zaragoza and his family break down whole goats, then marinate and roast them before serving it in a tomato-based consommé. The result is a juicy and tender goat stew accompanied by hand-pressed tortillas and an array of condiments to make delicious tacos. Even those who consider themselves goat-adverse should give it a try. It's the real deal. Birrieria Zaragoza: 4852 S. Pulaski Rd., (773) 523-3700. &#8212Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Yelp.

For a raucous fall evening celebrating Oktoberfest: Hofbrauhaus

The weather has officially broken and summer is gone. On the bright side: Oktoberfest is in full swing, and Hofbrauhaus, the massive (1,000 seats!) German-themed restaurant/theme park in Rosemont, may be the best place to let loose with house-brewed beer, a 20-piece band, and legitimately some of the best German food in town, all in a grand setting modeled after the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Hofbrauhaus: 5500 Park Place (MB Financial Park), Rosemont, 847-671-2739 —Daniel Gerzina, photo courtesy of Hofbrauhaus.

For char-broiled chicken: Chicken Hut

Oh, to sing the praises of Chicken Hut, sitting on that corner of Belmont and Broadway. While other chicken chains invade Chicago and apparent heirs to the chicken crown bicker, Chicken Hut hides in plain sight. Before fast-casual was a thing, the staff at Chicken Hut hovered around the grill charring chicken breasts, legs and wings. Families gather before Cubs games wanting a quick bite. Boys grabbing no-frills food gather before a night down Belmont run in for a pregame meal. For those mourning the loss of El Pollo Loco in Logan Square, venture toward the North Side for perfectly-cooked chicken with all-star cole slaw and potato salad. Chicken Hut, 3200 N. Broadway Ave., (773) 868-1755 — Ashok Selvam photo courtesy of Yelp

For great barbecue on the far North Side: Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse

Sauce is often the focal point when it comes to barbecue but here it's all about the dry rub. The secret recipe from pit master Jared Leonard is a blend of 14 seasonings that marinates with the meat for 24 hours before being cooked in hardwood-burning smokers. The result is super tender and smoky brisket and St. Louis ribs complemented with a number of housemade sauces. Other menu options include Tex-Mex items such as Texas tacos and smoked BBQ nachos as well as griddled Panini and Reubens loaded with pulled pork or chicken. For home cooks interested in learning how to smoke their own meats, Leonard also hosts weekly BBQ 101 classes. Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse: 6954 N. Western Ave., (773) 675-1410. &#8212Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Facebook.

For Asian-inspired barbecue and delicious fried chicken: Smalls Smoke Shack & More

Asian-inspired flavors are popping up in just about every type of cuisine these days, and barbecue is no exception. In Irving Park, a bright blue shack located on a side street is dishing out some ridiculously tasty meats. If you're dining in, you'll have to fight for counter space inside the tiny joint but the St. Louis ribs, smoked brisket and pulled pork are worth it. There are hints of Filipino and Korean influences all throughout the menu, from banana ketchup and bibimbap platters to the use of soy, garlic and even a 7 Up glaze. If that's not enough, the crispy, buttermilk-brined chicken is only one of the best in town. No exaggeration. Smalls Smoke Shack & More: 4009 N. Albany Ave., (312) 857-4221. —Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Facebook.

To bask in warm weather's last gasp on Wicker Park's first rooftop lounge: To Hayati at Taxim

Meteorology is an inexact science, but most of these "scientists" will tell you that chillier weather is heading to town soon. Yet it's still shorts and skirts weather now, so take advantage of an opportunity to soak in Wicker Park's first streetside rooftop lounge—that happens to be above perhaps the best Greek restaurant in Chicago. And, this Greek rooftop lounge also specializes in the perhaps the largest selection of a liquor you probably have never tried, Raki, a Turkish combination of twice-distilled grape and aniseed served by the carafe, the shot, and in cocktails. There's also skewers and other small plates, picturesque candlelit scenery, and a bird's eye view of the weekend madness on Milwaukee Avenue below. To Hayati at Taxim: 1558 N. Milwaukee Ave. 2nd Floor, (773) 252-1558. —Daniel Gerzina, photo courtesy of Facebook.

For thin-crust pizza that packs piles of flavor: Bricks Pizza

No. No one wins when they engage in an argument over thin crust versus deep dish. The only true loser is the one who doesn't eat pizza. Bricks, which sprouted up in Lincoln Park in 1997, happens to specialize in thin crust. There's plenty of variety to their pies, but the "Painful" is high on the list with spicy pepperoni, purple onion, fresh jalapeño, garlic, tomato sauce and mozzarella. It's not so painful that a dose of hot sauce won't overwhelm, but that's down to personal preference. This is the type of pizza place that would sate a vegetarian who thinks pizza places don't pay enough attention to them. There's also Big Bricks up in Lincoln Square, which is also on Lincoln Avenue, so make sure you know where the order is going. Bricks Pizza: 1909 N. Lincoln Ave., (312) 255-0831 and Big Bricks, 3832 N. Lincoln Ave., (773) 525-5022 — Ashok Selvam, photo courtesy of Facebook.

For a seriously good seafood boil in Wrigleyville: Lowcountry

While Pan Hompluem's newly-opened Lowcountry (on Tuesday) does, in fact, sit comfortably within the broning (bro-zoning) quadrant of our fair city, don't let this deter you from stepping in and sampling some of their tasty and uncomplicated seafood boils. There's a good variety of proteins available, but going with shrimp, clams or mussels (along with the extras of sausage, corn and potatoes) would be the best bet to get out the cleanest. You choose your sauce and spice level (be advised heat novices, stay at or under level two) and then dig in. Afterwards enjoy karaoke downstairs or beer pong upstairs, after all it's still Wrigleyville right? Lowcountry: 3343 N. Clark St., 773-996-9997 —Brett Hickman photo by Marc Much

For Szechuan food that doesn't dumb it down: Chengdu Impression

Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

Most Chinese and Chinese-American places outside Chinatown serve food that appeals to the mainstream. The spice levels remain moderate and there's quite a selection from the deep fryer. There's nothing wrong with a solid General Tso's chicken, and Chengdu, from Ryan Hu (nephew of Tony "The Mayor" Hu), delivers delicious versions of those dishes and others, including a Mongolian beef that's a bit sweeter than most. But the real treats come in the form of "Tiger Skin Peppers" and dry chili crispy pork intestine that are atypical for the area. Yes, Lincoln Park needs a restaurant like Chendgu Impression, a kitchen that also continues to serve fresh food even when it's about to close. You can't say the same about all restaurants. Chengdu Impression, 2545 N. Halsted St., (773) 477-6256 — Ashok Selvam, photo courtesy of Chengdu Impression.

For Asian-inspired burgers: bopNgrill

Burgers are a dime a dozen in Chicago, but a good, quality one is still a treat. BopNgrill, a Loyola staple, recently opened a new location in Lakeview serving burgers that have been consistently lauded as among the city's best. The Asian fusion spot puts its own spin on things with signature angus beef creations such as the umami (truffled mushroom duxelle, sun-dried tomato confit, togarashi mayo, bacon, smoked gouda) and kimchi (caramelized kimchi, fried egg, American cheese, bacon, togarashi mayo, shredded cabbage). The "bop plates"—rice topped with proteins, veggies and more—are also excellent options as are the sides, which include kimchi fries and Philly bulkogi eggrolls. Asian flavors probably aren't the first things that come to mind when it comes to burgers and fries, but bopNgrill is definitely worth your attention. bopNgrill: 921 W. Belmont Ave.,(773) 799-8868 - Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Flickr / Eric Allix Rogers.

For unexpectedly interesting and well-made tacos: Authentaco

Anyone with the most remedial knowledge of the Chicago food scene knows about its seemingly boundless wealth of casual Mexican options, from the cookie-cutter burrito spots on the north side to the authentic taquerias in outer neighborhoods. Authenteco actually took over one of those beloved taquerias—a La Pasadita on Ashland—yet managed to slip through the cracks of many of Chicago's taco-obsessed. The interesting selections run from cactus-stuffed to sweet potato, chicharron to a standout al pastor, all laying over some of the best house-made tortillas in Chicago with salsas to match. Friendly service and a cozy back patio are the icing on the cake. Authentaco: 1141 N. Ashland Ave. no phone. —Daniel Gerzina photo via Yelp.

For Neapolitan pizza in the suburbs: Pizza Barra

Newly opened in Oak Brook Promenade, Pizza Barra, from restaurateur Rich Labriola and chef Chris Macchia, is a hot new choice for suburbanites to experience "city pizza" in the form of classic Neapolitan-style-ish (ciabatta-like crust) straight out of a coal-burning oven (in an exhibition pizza kitchen no less). There's also Chicago-style thin and deep dish options if you're not into Neapolitan. But for the weekend, pretend you're not in the Chicago area, but luxuriating in Italy and sample one of Pizza Barra's ten signature artisanal pies (burrata, nduja, spaghetti squash and potato & rosemary are but a few examples - see the rest here). Pizza Barra: 3011 Butterfield Rd., Oak Brook, 630-861-6177—Brett Hickman photo courtesy of Pizza Barra

For awesome drinks and a huge patio this Labor Day weekend: Best Intentions

It's Labor Day weekend, which, among many things, is one your last chances to enjoy summer weather. Hot new bar Best Intentions has one of the best patios in town, with a cabana bar serving creative summer cocktails and frozen drinks that go down easy. If bad weather intrudes or you just want to be inside, there's plenty of cheap beer, cocktails from a soda gun, and a great jukebox. Best Intentions: 3281 W. Armitage Ave. 312-818-1254. —Daniel Gerzina photo via Foursquare.

For an old-fashioned ice cream sundae to beat the heat: Margie's Candies

As the final days of summer fly by, there's still time to channel the inner child within and indulge in a frozen treat. It doesn't get much sweeter than the ones at Margie's Candies, an old-school ice cream parlor that's been around for more than 90 years. Whether it's a banana split or turtle sundae craving, you'll find happiness in a variety of homemade flavors, sauces and toppings. And if you want to go big? Well, the jumbo creations are enough to feed several people while the self-proclaimed World's Largest Sundae will definitely lead to some dairy-induced comas. Margie's Candies: 1960 N. Western Ave., 773-384-1035. —Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Margie's Candies.

For a break from the typical Lincoln Park and DePaul scene: King's County Tap

Navigating Lincoln Avenue can be a daunting task. Tons of amateurs pack the bars near Lincoln, Halsted and Fullerton each weekend at bars that have the same crowd, feel and concept. King's County Tap is a refreshing change of pace for the area, a bit further north near Sheffield and Wrightwood. Housemade sodas provide an excellent mixer for alcoholic drinks. The cheese and meat plates also provide an excellent pick me up. The space is ample, with outdoor seating and excellent air circulation throughout the entire bar when the giant windows are rolled open. It's not buttoned up, but a place for more refined tastes, which is reflected on chalkboard featuring a most excellent craft beer list. King's County Tap: 2576 N. Lincoln Ave., (773) 697-7661 — Ashok Selvam photo via Facebook.

For drinking after 2:00 a.m.: Estelle's

So *insert popular new drinking establishment here* closes at 2:00 a.m. but the party absolutely must continue, what do you do? Head to Wicker Park for Estelle's where there's always free wi-fi and great drink specials. Not to mention a pretty rad jukebox and compelling films playing on the TVs (like Nicholas Cage with extreme black hair dye in the 2014 "classic" Rage). And there's food. Go out tonight for happy hour from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and get a $4 Three Floyd's draft. They have Zombie Dust. You're welcome. Estelle's: 2013 W North Ave., 773-782-0450—Brett Hickman photo courtesy of Switch Collection

For soup dumplings in Chinatown: Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling

Hidden in the depths of Richland Center is a food court with several stalls offering cheap eats. At QXYD, the dumplings are made-to-order by hand and filled with a variety of ingredients that include veggies, seafood, pork, chicken, beef and lamb. They come boiled or steamed and are meant to be mixed with soy sauce, vinegar or chili oil. Each bite unleashes a burst of soupy goodness and with prices ranging from $6-9 for an order of 18 dumplings, it's good value to boot. As an added bonus, the stand also grills skewers of meat and offal, which are the perfect complement or a tasty meal on its own. Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling: 2002 S. Wentworth Ave., 312-799-1118. —Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Yelp.

For great service and a good burger: Bernie's Lunch & Supper

It doesn't take long at Bernie's Lunch & Supper to know this isn't ownership's first rodeo. Sure, after opening last week, this might be Peas & Carrots Hospitality's first restaurant in Chicago, but Michiganders are familiar with the group's service-oriented focus at other restaurants including Mex and Social Kitchen & Bar. Those Motor City roots are perhaps reflected by staff which sport mechanic shirts with quirky pseudonyms patched on the front. In this world obsessed with griddled, thin burger patties, it's wonderful to bite into Bernie's thick burger ground with short rib and pork belly, accented by thinly-sliced onion in sort of an homage to a slider. But the menu's more than burgers, as the light ricotta gnocchi will surprise and the ground meat in the lamb hashwhi more than satisfies. They're still a work in progress, as they're not serving lunch just yet and the rooftop patio isn't open (they're hoping for Tuesday). Still, Bernie's is a strong first entry into the Chicago market for Zack Sklar and company. Bernie's Lunch & Supper: 660 N. Orleans St., (312) 624-9892 — Ashok Selvam photo by Marc Much.

For a new take on some of Chicago's best pizzas: Coalfire Two

Yes, it's a second location and an expansion. But the second Coalfire Pizza is more than just a larger space, a full bar, a snazzier interior, and a different neighborhood with a stroller-bound clientele. Owner Dave Bonomi dug deep into his pizza-obsessed mind for many standout new coalfired pies, not the least of which is a pistachio pesto sausage pizza with pistachio ground into the basil pesto and sprinkled over melted burrata and crumbled sausage that could leave you as obsessed with pizza as he is. Coalfire Two: 3707 N. Southport Ave., (773) 477-2625 —Daniel Gerzina photo by Marc Much.

For a fabulous veggie burrito: El Famous Burrito

Sometimes even the most meat-loving people need a respite, and a great way to fill up in a veg-friendly way is El Famous Burrito's gigantic chile relleno burrito. Filled with lettuce, tomato, rice, beans, cheese and a batter-fried chile relleno pepper, this burrito can satisfy a pretty big hunger. You could always add sour cream and/or avocado (or guacamole) if you wanted to, but this football-sized burrito is already teeming with ingredients, so do so at your own risk. El Famous Burrito: 7047 N Clark St., 773-465-0377—Brett Hickman photo via Yelp

For seafood straight from the East Coast: New England Seafood Company

Quality seafood is a treasure out here in the Midwest, where the selection is quite limited and often not-so-fresh. That's why markets like New England Seafood Company are such an invaluable commodity to the city, offering Chicagoans access to products from the coasts. Here, the goods are flown in daily from Boston and you can purchase all types of fish, oysters, live lobsters and more. If you'd rather just have it prepared for you, there's also a kitchen and dine-in menu featuring favorites like clam chowder, fish & chips and one of the best lobster rolls around. New England Seafood Company: 3341 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-871-3474. —Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Yelp.

For sausage with a view: Gene's Sausage Shop and Delicatessen

Looks can be deceiving, as Gene's is no ordinary grocer. Sure, the butcher is home to some of the city's best meat porn with more than 40 varieties of delicious sausages ready to be brought home. But walk upstairs and you'll find one of the better rooftops in the city with picnic-style benches. It's great for groups to catch up in a friendly setting while sipping a cold draft beer and nibbling on a sausage cooked on a wood-fired grill. The drink and food menus rotate, so one day come for a brat, the next day who knows what smoked meat will be served. Gene's Sausage Shop and Delicatessen, 4750 N. Lincoln Ave., (773) 728-7243. —Ashok Selvam photo courtesy of Gene's Sausage Shop and Delicatessen.

For 15 types of hot dogs and a seasoned salt bar on the Northwest Side: Ivy's

Many people are still mourning the loss of Hot Doug's. Your pain is felt. And one of the places stepping up to fill the void has been open for more than three years and serves 15 styles of dogs in various city and international themes, in addition to a salt seasoning bar for your fries with exotic flavors including merlot, black truffle, and Vermont maple. Stop in for a Danish, Japanese, or even a Detroit dog and you may not be mourning for much longer. Ivy's, 5419 W. Devon Ave., (773) 775-2545. —Daniel Gerzina, photo by Daniel Gerzina.

For a morning after gut bomb: Charcoal Delights

North Park's Charcoal Delights is one of those food institutions Chicago does best. The twist here is that many items get cooked over a charcoal grill (hence the name), rather than a flat top. Different variations of hot dogs, the ubiquitous gyros and Italian beef and sausage mingle with tuna melts and a sizable breakfast menu. It's not fine dining, but if you're looking for something to get you over a night of bad behavior, this could very well be what the doctor ordered. Charcoal Delights: 3139 W. Foster Ave., 773-583-0056—Brett Hickman photo via Yelp

For some tasty casserole before it shutters: Johnny Casserole

From an underground delivery service to a full-fledged cafe, Johnny Casserole is sadly taking his casseroles from the brick-and-mortar space on Damen and going home to his casserole fort on August 30. That gives you 18 days to try them, and you won't be disappointed in the kielbasa and sauerkraut, shepherd's pie, classic tuna noodle, the many types of mac n' cheese, or the brunch. Try them before they're gone. Johnny Casserole: 4019 N. Damen Ave., (773) 857-2665 —Daniel Gerzina, photo via Facebook.

For ridiculously juicy skirt steak and a complex mole: Ixcateco Grill

Venture north to Albany Park where diners will find Anselmo Ramírez busy in his little kitchen while his mother assists him by making the homemade tortillas. Ramírez learned from Rick Bayless while working at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo as a line cook, and his BYO restaurant showcases delicious southern Mexican cooking. It's a no-frills experience with a small menu, but the 20-hour mole served with chicken is the real deal. All the moles are distinct, including the yellow served with the calabacitas rellenas vegeterianas. And those tortillas from Ramírez's mother provide the perfect vessel, holding all those juices from that skirt steak. Portions maybe a little light, but it's an incredible value, and a great chance to share the entire menu. And don't forget to say hi to Ramírez's daughters working the hostess booth. Ixcateco Grill: 3402 W. Montrose Ave., (773) 539-5887—Ashok Selvam photo by Marc Much.

For a late-night kebab pick-me-up: Das Doner

Das Doner is the small late-night kebab spot from the folks that brought you The Radler. In fact, Das Doner is behind The Radler, serving up four different kinds of kebabs (chicken, braised pork shoulder, mushrooms with dukka spices, chickpea) on a flatbread or pita with toppings of romaine lettuce, marinated cucumbers, harissa and others. For $8, it's the perfect food to soak up some of that alcohol badness that you're no doubt imbibing in while bouncing around that hot street of Logan Square that the restaurant resides on. Das Doner: 2855 W. Fullerton Ave., 773-276-0270—Brett Hickman photo via Facebook.

For patio dining and stellar Sunday brunch: Gather

The summer months are quickly flying by and with them, the opportunity for al fresco dining. So make the best of the warm weather this weekend and check out Gather in Lincoln Square. The neighborhood wine bar features a covered backyard terrace and contemporary American cuisine from former Trotter's vet Ken Carter. The menu offers everything from seasonal heirloom tomatoes and juicy half chicken to signature whipped ricotta and a housemade charcuterie board. What might be even better is the Sunday brunch, where you can treat your hangover with flapjacks, chicken & waffles or a good ol' morning cocktail. Gather: 4539 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-506-9300. —Jeffy Mai photo by Gather.

For a taste of Calabrese in the South Loop: Aurelio's

The return of Aurelio's to Chicago proper means the return of their spinach calabrese, a bigger version of what many would identify as a calzone. Aside from their main pizza options, this menu item is considered a signature dish for the local chain. The spinach calabrese features their pizza crust stuffed with a hefty amount of near-molten cheese, fresh spinach and marinara sauce before baking. It's one of those incredibly basic but iconic dishes Chicago is known for that may get lost in the shuffle of modern food trends. If spinach isn't your thing, you're free to have whatever available ingredients Aurelio's offers stuffed into your calabrese. Just don't go crazy—there's only so much room in the crust's folds, after all. Aurelio's Pizza: 1212 S. Michigan Ave., 312-374-4459 —Brett Hickman photo by Aurelio's Pizza

For a delicious new West Loop brunch: Bin 36

The new Bin 36 is a bit different from the past incarnations. There's still a focus on wine and bubbly. There's still warm service and a neighborhood feel. But former beverage director-turned-owner Enoch Shully's moved into a new space that includes a spacious patio and a menu helmed by new chef Shane Graybeal that honors his southern roots. But while the food gets more of the spotlight, don't forget to indulge with one of Bin's wine signature cocktails or sangria. They're perfect boozy compliments to start the weekend. Bin 36: 161 N. Jefferson St., 312-995-6560. — Ashok Selvam photo by Marc Much

For chef-driven fare and a huge beer list in the South Loop: Villains Chicago

Despite its close proximity to the heart of city, the South Loop still lacks the dining options found in other downtown neighborhoods. That's why recently-opened Villains Chicago is a welcome addition bringing chef-driven cuisine and an extensive beer selection to the area. Gone is the old dive bar that the original Villains used to be and in its place is a sleek, remodeled space with a menu featuring local ingredients such as Slagel Farms sirloin, pork shoulder and beef burger. All items have recommended pairings and the beverage list includes 40 kinds of beers so even the most selective drinkers will find something to enjoy.Villains Chicago: 730 S. Clark St., 312-583-0283. —Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Villains Chicago.

For seafood and a true summer vibe amongst the beautiful set: The Hampton Social

Plenty of new-ish restaurants are attempting to emulate a beach house atmosphere, but the brand-new The Hampton Social on Hubbard Street may come closest to actually achieving it. Full floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides along with a copious amount of fans create comfortable summer breezes in a large room filled with ropes and hammocks, while an array of well-made seafood dishes that don't reinvent the wheel complete the seaside theme. It's been jammed in the early going with the see-and-be-seen crowd but it's open all day and has happy hour with half-price rose and live music so there are plenty of times where you can grab a seat and relive your summer vacations while in River North. The Hampton Social: 353 W. Hubbard St., 312-464-0500. —Daniel Gerzina photo by Marc Much.

For grilling that won't leave you sweating: Gogi

Grilling meats outside is a quintessential summertime activity but if you'd rather not deal with the oppressive heat this weekend, head over to West Rogers Park and Gogi for some exceptional Korean barbecue. You'll sit at a table with a charcoal grill and get to do all of the cooking yourself. Menu items include Korean staples such as galbi (marinated beef short ribs) and bulgogi (marinated beef sirloin), all sizzling away in front of you. If that's not enough, the various banchan (side dishes) accompanying the meats open up the palate with a mix of bold flavors that are a tasty and essential part of the authentic experience. Gogi: 6240 N. California Ave., 773-274-6669.—Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Gogi.

For a brand new brunch at one of Chicago's hottest bars (and restaurants): Pub Royale

Originally meant to be more bar than restaurant, Pub Royale, the latest hotspot from Heisler Hospitality, is drawing crowds for its food as much as its drink. And the Anglo-Indian pub rolls out brunch service this weekend with a menu that mixes favorites from dinner with new daytime dishes. Wash it down with their take on a Bloody Mary (made with mitha masala), two types of house-made chai, and a Mezcal Mule spin with Scotch, cucumber, and passion fruit. Pub Royale: 2049 W. Division St., 773-661-6874 —Daniel Gerzina photo by Marc Much.

For a great beer at a dive bar downtown: Rossi's Liquors

Rossi's doesn't care if customers wear an ironic basketball jersey or come dressed up in a tailored suit. This tiny dive just wants patrons to enjoy their drinks and treat people with respect perhaps even have a laugh or two before they leave. There's a dart board, but other than that, patrons will have rely on conversation. But don't judge a dive by it's cover (there's never a cover)—the beer stocked inside the cooler is impressive. Just walk on over, grab one, and the bartender will open the beer and offer a glass once the customer pays. Who knows? There might be some leftover bottles of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout in there. Probably not, but it's happened before. Rossi's Liquors, 412 N. State St., 312-644-4775. — Ashok Selvam photo courtesy of Foursquare.

For a blast of umami in River North: Sunda

On a recent visit to Sunda a server, responding to an inquiry about what they would most recommend on the menu, suggested the crispy Brussels sprouts, a signature dish that dates back to opening chef Rodelio Aglibot. Though the lowly sprout may not be a favorite of many (how many boiled versions have you had to endure in a lifetime?) this light and crispy, strangely addicting blast of umami could change a lot of opinions. The fried sprout leaves are mixed with red cabbage, carrots, chilies, fried shallots, minced shrimp and comes with a side of nuoc cham vinaigrette that you can either mix into the salad yourself or have your server do it for you. The flavors of which only deepen the longer everything marinates in the vinaigrette. Sunda: 110 W Illinois St., 312-644-0500 —Brett Hickman photo by Barry Brecheisen

For Standout Pizza Near Wicker Park Fest: Craft Pizza

Two maps featured pizza on Eater Chicago this week—one highlighting essential places for Chicago-style pies and the other for the hottest new spots. But one standout spot that didn't fit on either and is near this weekend's always-jammed Wicker Park Fest that's worth checking out is Craft Pizza. Open for just over a year in the former Haute & the Dog space on Damen, Craft Pizza serves artisanal thin-crust pies and slices made with a 12-hour fermented starter and baked in an 800-degree oven, giving the pizza great chew, mouthfeel, and foldability, and is topped with your choice of a small selection of quality ingredients. It's open from 8 a.m. until at least 9 p.m. this weekend with house-made bagels for sale in the morning. And it's BYOB. Craft Pizza: 1252 N. Damen Ave., 773-442-7238. —Daniel Gerzina photo by Marc Much.

For killer beef sandwiches that are not of the Italian variety: Monti's

Tucked away on a residential street in Lincoln Square is a neighborhood bar serving the best cheesesteaks in town. The operation is run by Jennifer Monti and James Gottwald, a husband-and-wife couple from Philadelphia committed to making the regional favorite the right way. That means importing hearth-baked rolls from Amoroso’s Baking Co. in Philly as well as using Midwest beef and aged Wisconsin cheese sauce. This Philly chesesteak is a must-try while other note-worthy variants include Niko the Greek (gyro meat, onion, lettuce, tomato, feta, tzatziki sauce) and the sizzling hot Rocky (onions, provolone, jalapeno, scotch bonnet, charred serrano, spicy mayo). It’ll never top Italian beef in the hearts of most Chicagoans but the sandwiches being served at Monti’s are second to none. Monti’s: 4757 N. Talman Ave., 773-942-6012.—Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Facebook.

For a dessert bigger than your head: Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House

There’s something otherworldly about the chocolate mousse pie at Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House. It’s not just that it’s a very good dessert option once you’ve put away copious amounts of chilled shrimp, oysters and crab legs, not to mention some excellent fish entrees. No, perhaps the best thing to say about this delectable dessert is that it can easily feed a party of four for under $14. The picture on the restaurant’s website doesn’t even come close to doing this King Kong-sized dessert justice. It defies photography it’s so big. All of the desserts at Hugo’s are larger than one could ever anticipate. Don’t be surprised if you order this solo and the waiter asks to make sure that you know how big this desserts is. They’re only trying to help. Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House: 1024 N. Rush St., 312-640-0999 —Brett Hickman photo courtesy of Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House

For a beautiful, private outdoor space: Moody’s Pub

Moody’s Pub isn’t so pleasant during winter. It’s a bit cramped and dark. Sure, the burgers taste great, and the pitchers of beer satisfy, but it’s nothing to celebrate. But, like Chicago, Moody’s transforms during the warmer months. That’s when they open up their beautiful beer garden that provides an escape from the city. Catch up with friends over pitchers of sangria and beer. Impress a first date by enjoy time at this spot that’s intimate enough where you can share conversation, but not immune to antics or hijinks. Oh, and the burgers are delicious. Moody’s Pub: 5910 N. Broadway St., 773-275-2696. — Ashok Selvam photo courtesy of Moody’s Pub.

For affordable Mexican seafood: Restaurant Veneno de Nayarit

Over in Noble Square, this small Mexican seafood restaurant is a popular spot to get delicious and affordable shellfish. You'll start with complimentary ceviche accompanied by tostadas before embarking on a menu packed with everything from prawns and crab legs to stuffed lobsters and langoustines. It's all cooked Nayarit-style, which is a Mexican state on the west coast, and it's best to come with a group so you can order one of the platter specials and get a taste of several items. You'll likely order more food than you can handle but the market value prices and generous BYOB policy make it one of the best seafood bargains in town. Restaurant Veneno de Nayarit: 1024 N. Ashland Ave., 773-252-7200.—Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Facebook.

For great barbecue near Wrigleyville but not too close: Cooper's

The Cubs play the White Sox this weekend, and Wrigleyville should be a little more festive than usual. Festive doesn't necessarily mean positive. But for those nearby or those needing a pregame meal without the hoopla, head to Cooper's, home to one of the nicest, secluded patio areas anywhere. Great barbecue coupled with an extensive beer list make this a great place to escape the crowd or even watch the games. There's also free parking. Cooper's, 1232 W. Belmont Ave., (773) 929-2667 — Ashok Selvam, photo via Facebook

For carnitas tacos with no frills: Carnitas Uruapan

Pilsen is known for having great tacos, but there's one place that satisfies a specific hunger for carnitas and that place is Carnitas Uruapan. Opened in 1975, the menu at Carnitas Uruapan is rather small, focusing on the slow-cooked pork, chicharrones, cactus salad and menudo (spicy pork brain tacos are available on the weekend as well). You can purchase the porky goodness by the pound or in taco form for $2.50 apiece. Three tacos should be more than enough to fill the average food enthusiast. Splash a little bit of each of the two table salsas onto your tacos for maximum flavor. The Carnitas Uruapan space itself features a lot of lively, kitschy pig design elements, which somehow makes eating pork tacos even more fun. Carnitas Uruapan: 1725 W 18th St., 312-226-2654 —Brett Hickman photo courtesy of Carnitas Uruapan

For tons of throwback cocktails and a huge secluded back patio: Weegee's Lounge

Classic cocktails (and spins on classic cocktails) are certainly en vogue these days, and Weegee's Lounge on Armitage has been serving a massive menu of stiff throwback drinks quietly for 10 years. The main space manages to toe the fine line between divey and sophisticated, where candlelight, shuffleboard, and old school service come together. But during the warmer months the back door leads to a huge patio full of quaint tables under a tree-lined canopy. Cocktail aficionados looking for a quiet throwback spot anytime of the year can't do much better than here. Weegee's Lounge: 3659 W. Armitage Ave., 773-384-0707 —Daniel Gerzina, photo courtesy of Philip Dembinski/Facebook

For a final taste of one of Chicago's best restaurants before it closes: Nightwood

One of the best restaurants in Chicago is sadly closing on July 11, and considering it's also closed on the Fourth of July and July 6 for its employee appreciation day, that means you have a week's worth of opportunities to try Nightwood or pay it one last visit before it's gone forever. The rustic locally-sourcing eatery was a trailblazer on the near south side for six years, and even with the loss of chef Jason Vincent, chef-owner Jason Hammel and team are still churning out eye-opening yet approachable dishes, desserts, and drinks—for the next few days. Nightwood: 2119 S. Halsted St., 312-526-3385 —Daniel Gerzina photo by Barry Brecheisen

There are plenty of options in town for afternoon tea but The Allis is a relative newcomer that's a great bargain. The lounge and bar inside beautiful Soho House Chicago offers daily seatings for as little as $24 per person. It includes your choice of tea alongside a tower of finger sandwiches and pastries such as scones and cakes. Those who could use something a little stronger can add a glass of sparkling wine for only an additional $8. It's the ideal spot to channel your inner Downton Abbey for a fraction of the typical price. The Allis: 113-125 N. Green St., 312-521-8000.—Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Soho House Chicago.

For higher-end sushi at a reasonable price: Ani Sushi + Japanese Kitchen

Nestled in a rather quiet area of Lakeview, Ani Sushi + Japanese Kitchen manages to deliver a lot of solid Japanese food at affordable prices while still keeping quality. Ani, brother to Arami in Ukrainian Village, puts out a large number of sushi rolls with top-notch ingredients at a price point that won't break customers' banks. One must-try roll on chef Shin Matsuda's (Arami, Slurping Turtle) menu is the hamachi, maguro and cilantro (with yellowtail, bluefin, jalapeno, avocado and masago for $14). At these prices, and in this casual of an environment, Ani Sushi + Japanese Kitchen is a destination for a relaxed evening of sushi indulgence. Ani Sushi + Japanese Kitchen: 3056 N. Lincoln Ave., 872-206-8553 — Brett Hickman photo by Marc Much

For a cold, frozen treat: Bobtail Ice Cream Company

Sure, there are tons of places to grab a frozen treat in Chicago, but Bobtail in Lakeview is a gem. Bobtail's story starts in 1950, and this Ohio import has served old-school fountain creations since. They've even expanded to frozen yogurt for customers counting calories, not flavor. The salted caramel chocolate pretzel is a standout. There's also specialty flavors, like "Signature Sunset" (merlot ice cream, dark chocolate chips). Bobtail Ice Cream Company, 2951 N. Broadway St. 773-880-7372 —Ashok Selvam, photo courtesy of Yelp

To soak in summer on the banks of the Chicago River: The newly-expanded Riverwalk

This weekend should be have gorgeous weather and the newly-expanded Chicago Riverwalk has three of the best new ways in town to enjoy the Windy City scenery from mere feet of the river. City Winery's outpost on the river (serving wine, cheese, charcuterie and more) and Flander's Belgian Beer and Fries are on the south side between Dearborn and State, while Island Party Hut has tiki-inspired drinks, beer and games of bags past Michigan near Columbus. Walk the whole length and have drinks and bites at each plus previously-existing spots, and you may see Rahm hanging out there too. Chicago Riverwalk: E. Upper Wacker Drive between Dearborn and Columbus. —Daniel Gerzina photo courtesy of City Winery.

For a new fast-casual flame-grilled chicken spot: Nando's Peri-Peri

If you're headed to the Taste of Randolph this weekend, do yourself a favor and check out Nando's for some killer chicken. The South African chain has more than 1,200 restaurants across the globe but the Chicago locations (a new spot in Lakeview is opening next week) are just the first foray in the U.S. outside of the Washington, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland area. The menu features juicy and succulent Portuguese-style birds that can be ordered whole or in sandwiches, wraps and salads. It's some of the best grilled chicken in town and can be enhanced by choosing a spice level ranging from lemon & herb to extra hot. Save room for dessert and the "Naughty Natas" as well the popular egg tarts with a crème brulee-like caramelized crust are a perfect finish. Nando's Peri-Peri: 935 W. Randolph St., 312-488-3062.—Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of Nando's Peri-Peri.

For a different take on charcuterie: Kinmont

With the arrival of chef Aaron Cuschieri (Slurping Turtle) earlier this year, many changes came to Kinmont 's menu. A major one was Cuschieri's fish "charcuterie" board ($17), a rare thing around these parts. The platter features smoked trout rillette (capers, butter, lemon zest and chives), salmon gravlax, tuna conserva, radish salad, whole grain mustard and grilled bread. It's the sort of food you don't mind sharing, but only in limited company (two's probably as far as it stretches without encountering hurt feelings). To get a better look into how Cuschieri makes Kinmont's fish "charcuterie" board, click here to watch a video of the chef in action . Kinmont: 419 W. Superior St., (312)915-0011. Brett Hickman photo courtesy of Element Collective.

There's not much hype behind this Old Town gem that has unassumingly served Japanese food on Wells Street for years. The service is friendly inside a casual setting where diners witness first dates and girls' nights out. An affordable sushi option in the heart of Old Town, the sidewalk seating during the summer makes it even more attractive. Don't forget to grab a bottle of booze down the street from the House of Glunz or Plum Market. Cafe Sushi, 1342 N. Wells St., (312) 337-0700 — Ashok Selvam, photo courtesy of Yelp.

For Cajun-style seafood good for the whole family: The Angry Crab

Up on the northwest side of town, the Angry Crab is wowing diners with fresh seafood by the pound. The Cajun-inspired joint was opened by three brothers—Mark, David and Irvin Nguyen—after they found themselves missing the popular crab shacks back home on the west coast. The result has been one of Chicago's hottest restaurants since it launched in late February. The concept is simple: pick your shellfish (shrimp, crab legs, crawfish and mussels are just a few of the options), choose a sauce/spice level and marvel in delight when it comes to the table in a steaming hot plastic bag. Sure, you'll have to do some work and get a little messy for your meal but with product fresh from local suppliers and a budget-friendly BYOB policy, it's a great catch worth the long waits.The Angry Crab: 5665 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-784-6848.—Jeffy Mai photo courtesy of The Angry Crab.

Chicago Athletic Association [Official Photo]

For drinks on bites on possibly the best rooftop in Chicago: Cindy's

If the weather cooperates, there may not be a better chance to hang out, nosh, sip cocktails, and gaze from above the great city of Chicago than Cindy's. On the rooftop of the newly-restored and opened to the public Chicago Athletic Association hotel, take in unparalleled views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan from high above Michigan Avenue. And if the weather doesn't cooperate, Paul McGee's cocktails, parlor games and throwback American cuisine await inside the historic venue downstairs. Cindy's rooftop in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel: 12 S. Michigan Ave., 844-312-2221. —Daniel Gerzina photo by Nick Fochtman.

For a taste of Turkey: Zizi's Cafe

Sure, kebobs are popular, but not many places in Chicago seem to get them just right, especially compared to some of the doner kebob joints eaters can find in Europe. Zizi's comes closest to scratching the itch, featuring a friendly family-owned casual atmosphere and authentic recipes that will take diners back to the old world. Regulars return thanks to the warmth of the owner, who usually wears a smile on his face. Zizi's Cafe, 2825 N. Sheffield Ave., (773) 697-9228 — Ashok Selvam, photo courtesy of Foursquare.

For a satiating slice of pizza: Beggars Pizza

In business for 39 years, Beggars Pizza lives by its motto: "We lay it on thick." The locally-based pizza chain was started by Angelo Garetto in south suburban Blue Island, growing to its current 22 locations around Chicagoland, and is also the official pizza of the Chicago White Sox. Beggars' menu features the usual pizza joint accompaniments, (meatball sandwich, mostaccioli, wings), but when it comes down to it, it's all about the pizza. At the West Loop location near Union Station they sell a whole lot of slices at lunch time (but available all day) that features sausage (thin crust and deep dish), pepperoni (thin crust and deep dish), spinach (deep dish) and specialty slices (this week it's thin crust sausage and pepperoni). If you're looking to go beyond New York/New Haven/Neapolitan, look no further. Beggars Pizza: 310 S. Clinton St., (312) 588-0055 . —Brett Hickman photo courtesy of Beggars Pizza.

For desserts on a rooftop on a beautiful summer evening: Homestead on the Roof

If you're in the Ukrainian Village you know that Roots Handmade Pizza is a local hot-spot, especially during the summer when the patio begins to overflow. What you might not always remember is that a completely different restaurant, one with a rooftop garden no less, sits right above it. That spot is Homestead on the Roof, a seasonal restaurant that is also one of the city's hidden gems for desserts. Executive pastry chef Chris Teixeira, a semi-finalist for this year's James Beard Awards, just introduced a new dessert menu for the summer season and the focus is on fruit. A particular standout is the "Huckleberry," featuring soft, sugary churros featuring a hint of lemon, crème fraiche and huckleberry compote. A special treat awaits all guests at the end of the meal as a variety of mignardises are brought out, including one that improves upon Fannie May's classic "mint meltaway" (this and other creations can be found at West Town Bakery as well). Homestead on the Roof: 1924 W. Chicago Ave., 773-332-2354. —Brett Hickman photo by ThinkLeigh Photography

For a meaty brunch and lunch in a hot new restaurant: Boeufhaus

It's already on the heatmap, but if you haven't had a chance to check out Boeufhaus yet, now is the time. In addition to its boutique steakhouse fare and intriguing small plates, the formerly mysterious new restaurant on Western Avenue will be putting its generations-old smoker to use during the daytime in the form of new brunch and lunch services beginning Sunday and Tuesday, respectively. The brunch includes versions of steak and eggs, predictably, but the meat also goes into cocktails in the form of veal-stock ice cubes and a Bloody Mary garnished with a house-made slim jim. At lunch, look for a new deli counter offering a range of sandwiches including house-made pastrami and a cheesesteak. Boeufhaus: 1012 N. Western Ave., 773-661-2116. —Daniel Gerzina photo by Nick Fochtman.

No, the Blackhawks won’t be playing at home on Saturday night but that doesn’t mean you can’t head down to the Near West Side to cheer them on. The Ogden, located blocks away from the United Center, is a "chef-driven sports bar" and bound to be one of the hottest places to watch the action. As one of the official Blackhawks bars, there’ll be a lively game day atmosphere, a sea of red jerseys and even the sounds of Chelsea Dagger and goal horns to get you pumped up. The menu contains the usual array of bar food with highlights including their famous animal fries topped with pulled pork, cheese curds, giardiniera and a sunny side up egg, as well as some juicy black angus burgers. The beer list is also surprisingly impressive, boasting more than 50 different types of craft brews in bottles, cans or on tap. If you can’t be in Tampa for the game, this isn’t a bad consolation. The Ogden: 1659 W. Ogden Ave., 312-226-1888. Jeffy Mai photo by The Ogden.

Reed’s Local [Official Photo]

For those who remember when dive bars were really dives: Reed's Local

Reed's Local is the spiritual successor to Ukrainian Village's shuttered Club Foot, and even imported the old bar's "Tetris" machine. Though the Hill brothers upgraded the space after taking it over, there's nothing fancy about the spot, near the original Kuma's Corner. It's a simple formula: Cheap drinks and friendly service. This Avondale spot attracts a cast of characters ready to talk sports, pop culture, music or even politics. Don't underestimate the dive's beer selection — it will surprise you. And don't worry, no one will judge customers for drinking canned beer. They don't serve food, but will have free pizza Saturday night if fans want to catch the Blackhawks game. And if patrons don't like hockey, fear not: There's always the "Playboy" pinball machine. Reed's Local, 3017 W. Belmont Ave., 872-806-0520 — Ashok Selvam photo courtesy of Reed's Local

Watch the video: Rossis Sausage Gnocchi (May 2022).