Come out of Chi-bernation for these Winter Food Finds

Oh winter…devilishly evil Chicago winter.  You haven’t been able to keep us down…especially with all these events and restaurant openings popping up.  What about you, dear readers?  Have you wound your scarf around you and strapped those snow boots on to take the chill out of winter?  Here are some spots that may make you wanna brave the great white Midwest.

Remember that ol’ Lasalle Power company dance club you used to troll to pick up your future v-day date?  Well now it’s been converted into a brand new Gino’s East.  Chicago’s legendary pizza spot just got classy at its River North location.  Three floors of expansive rustic cozy hangout space will eliminate your wait with your out of town guests as you get your “mangia” on with artichoke pizza, pickle-y sliders and fat stuffed cheese sticks with spinach.  The restaurant proclaims to be  including a brewery opening in several months as well…just in time for Spring!!

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Our next pick is a neighbor to the north, Pizzeria Serio, a  hidden addition to the food scene on Belmont avenue in Lakeview.  WGN’s Chicago Best honored Pizzeria Serio as one of Chicago’s fave pizza.  Check out the video here.  We hopped over snow mounds to meet with the Chicago Food Bloggers and Pizzeria Serio was gracious enough to host our group.  We sampled several tasty starters like a Spinach Salad (baby spinach leaves, red onion, mandarin oranges, goat cheese and walnuts in homemade citrus dressing) and the more traditional Caprese.   For veggie lovers and goat cheese lovers (eww says one of us..the goat cheese hater) try the spinach specialty pizza (EVOO, sea salt, black pepper, fresh garlic, tomatoes, spinach, ricotta and goat cheese sans sauce).  For the more purist pizza crowd, try the wood burned crusty Eat Your Veggies (onions, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives)  and get your 5 a day veg serving…a good excuse to eat mas pizza if we do say so…and we do.

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In a whole other country (this is what it feels like to Chicago residents) is Farmhouse in Evanston.  This tavern makes their own burgers, condiments and soda from scratch with ingredients plucked straight from Midwestern farms.  Even their beverage selection is pulled only from Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.  The majority of interior pieces are reclaimed woods and salvaged materials.  At the kick off to North Shore Restaurant month, going on now, we gobbled down hot beer battered Wisconsin cheese curds with crispy warm centers and fresh Tavern-cut peppery potato chips with homemade ranch-like dipping sauce.  On demand for our next visit is the Old World Grains Burger with Forest Mushroom and Poblano Pepper.  For those of you who don’t venture that far out of our city, there’s also a sister location in River North with a slightly different menu and a two floor space.  Don’t all these pics of yummy food make you wanna trek through your alley to the El?

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Chicago Thin Crust? A Pizza Must!

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Blaze Pizza

Oh Twitter,  how we love thee.  Recently, the Chicago Food Scene held a Twitter poetry competition for free Blaze pizzas.  We dug deep back to our middle school Haiku writing days  and typed a clever pizza ditty….and won!!   Once our coupons came, we gleefully braved the snow to try the “new to Chicago” casual pizza chain, Blaze Pizza, situated in Boystown right near the El stop.  We weren’t really sure what to expect when we entered but the staff hollered out a welcome and invited us to come closer.

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As we shyly peeked around, they detailed the Blaze pizza process for us.  The fine art of pizza creation is set up in an assembly line format.  Patrons can pick their own pie toppings and sauce or choose a signature ‘za and watch while it is made.  Pizzas are 11 inches of thin crust glory and take only 3 minutes to cook.  We were intrigued by the gigantic oven and learned that 12 pizza could fit inside which brings to mind sitcom hijinx of craaazy pizza cooking.  The oven man assured me that he avoided that magnitude of pizza multitasking.  The oven does, however, cook pizzas at a blazing (get it?!!!?) hot 800 degrees.

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There were a ton of signature veggie pizza options available to us as well as gluten free and vegan substitutions.  We decided on the Red Vine, with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil and chunky red sauce, and the Green Stripe, with pesto sauce, arugula, and garlic minus the chicken.

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Blaze Pizza – “Red Vine” with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil and chunky red sauce

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Blaze Pizza – “Green Stripe” with pesto sauce, arugula, and garlic minus the chicken

Pizza Highlights: Blaze Pizza is a real departure from Chicago style pizza and a real good one at that.  The crust was light, crispy and a titch garlicky. Our wallets were happy because their pizzas only cost 8 bucks and we each walked out with leftover slices.  We also tried the S’mores pie, a chewy marshmallow with melted chocolate in between 2 British biscuits.  It had appropriately crumbly texture but we decided it could have used a quick pop in the oven.

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Status: Liked, retweeted and plused, we loved Blaze Pizza and will be back to make our own creation.  Thanks to Blaze Pizza and Chicago Food Scene for choosing us as the creative poetresses that we are and giving us pizzas instead of an award.

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