June 2014 | chicago foodie girl


Siena Tavern Gelato (to-go!)

Ever since Siena Tavern opened in early 2013, diners have been raving about the delicious desserts, specifically the range of fun gelato flavors (red velvet! birthday cake! krispy caramel fudge! cinnamon mascarpone!). So when the good folks over at Siena contacted me to see if I would be interested in a little gelato taste-testing, I just knew I was in for a delicious treat.

The gelato at Siena Tavern is a result of their mastermind pastry chef Amy Arnold. Chef Arnold's mother was a home economics teacher and made nearly everything from scratch - it was in her late mother's recipe box that she found the formula that served as the basis for her impressive range of gelati. After years of concocting, taste testing, and tweaking, Arnold finally perfected her recipe and implemented her amazing product at Siena Tavern (where she hand churns each flavor nightly!). Thanks to the newly available pints to-go, you can now enjoy Arnold's handiwork not only in the restaurant but also from the comfort of your own home (just check the menu for the daily flavors).

I invited Diana to join me for the taste-testing (because as much as I would love to, I really don't need to eat four pints by myself). ;-) We kicked off our night with one of the featured summer flavors, Crème Brûlée. The rich vanilla gelato with crunchy pieces of caramel won Diana's heart early on; ultimately, she proclaimed this to be her favorite of the night.



Chicago Eats: New Menu Options at Corner Bakery

As I've mentioned in the past, I'm a huge fan of Corner Bakery Cafe; it's definitely one of my top picks from the fast-casual market. However, I have to admit that I order the exact same thing pretty much every time I go there (I'm such a creature of habit!). This is why I am always excited to participate in the spring menu tasting. Not only do I get to try all of latest menu additions, but also, I'm forced out of my comfort zone. As with last year, I had a fantastic time sampling all of the new items and I definitely found a few options that will make their way into my regular rotation.

This year's new menu items are all focused on eating light and healthy. Proving that you don’t need to sacrifice flavor to eat food that's healthy, the new menu includes several flavorful real-fruit and super food-inspired dishes, including my personal favorites, the Toasted Sesame Kale Salad, and the Four Berry Smoothie.

 Toasted Sesame Kale Salad: fresh kale, shredded carrots, toasted sesame seeds, and a fantastic ginger soy dressing



Chicago Eats: Mercato at Rustle + Roux

Yesterday, I had the chance to check out the grand opening of Rustle + Roux, a global cafe featuring seven unique dining stations. Located in the Franklin building (in the former cafeteria space on the second floor), Rustle + Roux is perfectly situated for a quick to-go pick up or a leisurely sit-down meal in the loop. Breakfast and lunch dining options include Grill'd sandwich station, Mercadito Taqueria, illy coffee and gelato, and Top Chef alum Fabio's newest venture, Mercato by Fabio Viviani.

The menu at Mercato includes a host of salads, made from scratch pastas, and amazing individual Napoli-style pizzas. I've tried a lot of pizza in this city and I can confidently say that yesterday I found one of my new favorite pizzas (definitely in the top five of pizzas!).

 400 day aged prosciutto, grilled pears, fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, shaved Parmigiano, and arugula  


Chicago Eats: Gino's East River North

Recently, I was contacted by Gino's East to see if I would be interested in checking out their newest location in River North. Of course, as with every other good Chicagoan, I'm always up for pizza (although I have to admit that I'm far more of a Neapolitan-style pizza lover than I am a fan of Chicago-style pizza), so I was more than happy to see what Gino's East had to offer. Shortly before our scheduled dinner, I realized that although I had tried their pizza before, I had actually never been to a Gino's East location in the entire fifteen years I've been in Chicago - obviously, I was definitely overdue for a visit!

Gino's East opened its River North location earlier this year, in a very cool turn of the century building on LaSalle St. that once powered the city’s cable car system (and more recently housed Michael Jordan's Restaurant and the LaSalle Power Co.). The new space has three floors: a bar/lounge setting on the first floor, a main dining area on the second floor (with awesome street lamps flanking every booth), and a private party room on the third floor. The design of the new space is a bit funkier than some of their other locations (no graffiti walls!) and it definitely fits the vibe of River North. The design elements of this location aren't the only change - while you'll find all of the old favorites on the menu, there's also a fairly substantial list of appetizers and pizzas that are exclusive to the River North location (including my new favorite, the Thin Crust Artichoke Pizza).

 Diana and I were both excited to see they had ACE Pear Cider on the menu (we're both cider geeks!). They also have more than 40 craft beers, many of which are from Chicagoland breweries such as Revolution, Two Brothers, and Temperance.

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