April started out fun with the New Gino’s East opening in Pilsen. The restaurant showcased special menu items specifically created in Mexico City as the restaurant at this location strives to combine flavor profiles of Mexican and Italian cultures.
At the opening, they served us with lots of drink offerings such as the Ron Amarillo; a fun blend of white rum, ancho chili liqueur yellow bell pepper, cilantro and lime. The Cuparina was another favorite for me- that Cacahca and guava mixture took me straight to the beach! And then there was deep-dish pizza with a twist. The Nopal Vegetarian with cactus, pickled onions, mushrooms and potatoes is a must try even for my meat lover friends! Every pizza seemed to have been created thoughtfully and the crust with the same level of buttery and flaky. The restaurant was packed for the opening and brimming with excitement – a promising start for this new eatery and the Pilsen neighborhood.
Later in the month, I got to visit Autre Monde for its 5th anniversary celebration. The restaurant as its name suggests, is truly a whole other world! We had the opportunity to see the recently vamped dining room and newly modified menu. Executive Chefs Dan Pancake and Beth Partridge went all out to ensure guests got the full flavor of all the new features for both food and drinks. The menu offers all things Mediterranean and is very pescetarian friendly. My favorites from the meal were the Shrimp Dolmades with lemon hollandaise. I can never be impressed enough with good hollandaise sauce, and the fish in every dish was fresh as can be. I also relished the Crudo, which was elegantly plated with tender fluke, sea beans, radish and meyer lemon. The plating was so beautiful, I was afraid to eat it.
In the non-seafood fare, the Tagliatelle Fattoria blew me away. I’ve never had sweet pea pasta before and the morels were an interesting addition to this dish. All of this came with fun and relevant wine pairings; with a story behind every wine that the Sommelier took the time to carefully relay. It’s always a good night for me, when I can add to my growing list of favorite dessert wines. I’m still celebrating my discovery of Macvin from the Jura, which was delicious.
I also attended the grand opening for Smack Shack in the West Loop. A seafood-centric, food truck transformed restaurant that offers everything from Lobster Guacamole to any type of Po’Boy your heart desires. Their commitment to sustainable seafood is commendable, ensuring partnerships with fisheries that care about the long term growth of the fish population. That’s one way to this pescetarian’s heart.
This two level restaurant can create the right vibe for you, whether you visit for a sit down dinner or stop in for a drink and some fun seafood appetizers. Whatever brings you in to the restaurant; you can’t leave without trying their Seafood Boil on a stick, which comes with three jumbo shrimp, red potatoes and corn on the cob nicely glazed with drawn butter. The funnest part of the evening for me was getting a tour of the Lobster Tanks with Chef Thoma. An absolutely enjoyable event packed with good energy and lots of pesce!