Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pizza Barra - One of the Best Pizza Locations in All of Chicagoland

Chicago. Chicago is known for many things. Music.You can place the emphasis on some home-grown blues music. Sports. This is a sports loving town. White Sox, Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls and Cubs. We are a dedicated group of people supporting the home teams. Politics. This is a politically minded part of the country. Pizza. Yes. Pizza. The best pizza in the world and I do indeed mean the best pizza in the world can be found right here in the third largest market in the United States. No one provides better pizza than the wide variety of pizzerias in Chicago and the surrounding suburban areas. Thin crust. Thick crust. Deep dish. Stuffed. Artisan. We have it all and it's all magnificent.

One of the newest entries in the pizza world is Pizza Barra in Oak Brook. Pizza Barra is the creative masterpiece of Rich Labriola (he owns Labriola's, which is one of my favorite places to grab everything from a salad to a baked goodie) and chef Chris Macchia. These men know how to cook and devise a wonderfully appealing physical property where one can be entertained by the lovely ambiance, the absolutely outstanding service and the food. The salads were excellent, but we didn't find ourselves plopping ourselves down, because of the salads.

The highlights on this menu were the Pizza Barra Supreme (to be honest, we asked for the pepperoni to not be placed, but the wide assortment of vegetables made for an astonishing pizza masterpiece and dare we say, even better as a day after leftover) and the Pomodorini Artisan Pizza. This is the hands down winner for the best artisan pizza in a fifty mile radius. Superbly crafted coal fired oven pizza made fresh and the dough is a days in the making gift.

The server we had was knowledgeable and professional. The location is welcoming and downright comforting.

Whatever you have going over the next few months make sure you get a chance to drive to Oak Brook and engage yourself in the delightful and delicious pizzas at Pizza Barra.

Pizza Barra
3011 Butterfield
Oak Brook, IL
630 861 6177

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2016

Monday, November 9, 2015

Concert Review: Don Henley at the Chicago Theatre - 2015

Don Henley is not only one of the most gifted songwriters and singers of the rock era, but he is also one of the most underrated members of that same era. He is a lyrical poet who writes about life, as it is. His current album, Cass County is packed with one magnificent song after another, which is a rare feat for any artist, but certainly an oddity for a 68 year old.

Cass County is the first album in Henley’s career recorded under the Capitol Records label. It is a success story for an industry that has a difficult time launching anything outside of certain contemporary artists. Henley paid tribute to Capitol Records by acknowledging that this was the label that gave us Frank Sinatra (a third of his career), the Beatles, Nat King Cole and the Beach Boys.   

The tour opened a couple of weeks ago and it is a short one, so unlike the iconic band he is a founding member of he will not be on the road for years or even months in support of Cass County. The show last night opened with Seven Bridges Road, the only piece of music ever performed by the Eagles that Henley brings forth during this show. The tremendous vocal group assembled of his current touring band were outstanding as they brought forth delicious harmonies at the Chicago Theater.

Henley has enough material to do a full-course show without reverting to the giant hits of the band. Henley supplied nearly the entire Cass County album and each song worked. It was like listening to songs you already knew, but that is in large part due to Henley’s still vibrant and silky voice; and his innate talent for bringing to life images and moments from life. Clearly, the aged Henley doesn’t match his once perfect vocal style and skill, but there is still a mighty giant lying in those vocal chords. He waxed poetically in a raspy voice a couple of times, but the raspy worked. That raspy voice sounded lived in and it was at times heartbreaking and haunting.

He pulled a variety of songs from his illustrious solo career, including one of the finest songs ever recorded by anyone, Dirty Laundry. As Henley put it “it is still relevant” and “now it’s even worse.” Yep, the bubble-headed bleach blond comes on at five. The opening strands of Boys of Summer still excites to the core and there couldn’t be a more beautifully written ode to love and lost love than The Heart of the Matter. This stunner appears on his album, The End of the Innocence and from my perspective it is the best song of his lengthy songwriting career and yes, that is saying something.

The show was a shocking two hours and forty minutes, which was an unbelievable tribute to fans, particularly since he didn’t have to do it. Fans would have been thrilled with two hours, but Don gave us what we wanted and we didn’t even know we wanted all of it. He pulled out a cover of Everybody Wants to Rule the World from I don’t know where, but wow, it was a highlight of the show. All She Wants To Do Is Dance literally had everyone on their feet.

The musicians assembled are some of the nation’s finest and it was a tight fit all night long. Unlike some other artists, Don Henley played it straight and delivered the tracks as we know and love them. The three female backing singers (at times, they sang duets with Don) were all terrific and easily could have been headlining their own shows in another era where talent once won out.

Henley did more speaking on stage than he has done in his entire career. He spins and weaves stories for almost every song. Some are longer than others, but you didn’t want him to stop. The story he delivers regarding Train in the Distance was touching, heartfelt and sentimental.

He may be the most down-to-earth and steeped in reality famous person in the world. You literally want to have lunch with the guy. He’s smart, well-read, insightful, a gifted storyteller and downright funny. I laughed out loud several times as he managed to be funnier than most comics on late-night programs.

He delivered stories about rain in the southwest, making plenty of mistakes and he delved into a revealing situation when an old flame wants to reconnect. Not for the romance, but just to stay in touch.  

The show opens with a lovely montage of audio bites filled with famous speeches (think Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor and John F. Kennedy asking what can we do for our country). The audio clearly showcases some of Henley’s favorite music and we hear everything from the Glenn Miller Orchestra to Elvis Presley to Patsy Cline to the Beatles. Above the stage are a collection of vintage radios that embody Henley’s life in music. It's a simple tool, but a creative one.       

I will look forward to his next go-round. One of my deep emotional attachments from a musical perspective is the music of the Eagles; and Henley was clearly one of the main reasons why their music and his music still resonate so powerfully in my own personal life.

Thank you Mr. Henley.         

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Things To Do in Chicago at Christmas - The 2015 Guide

Christmas! It's a wonderful time to be in the city of Chicago. The city's official Christmas tree will be lit on Wednesday, November 24th. It's the 102nd anniversary of the Christmas tree lighting.
Millennium Park, Chicago, IL.
St. Nick will be there! Enjoy Christmas and stay safe & healthy during this wonderful season!

Macy's Holiday Windows
Macy's State Street, 111 North State Street, Chicago
Macy's showcases beautiful window displays in Chicago; and this year will be no retreat from their long held historical roots. Also, make sure you view the Macy's 45-foot Great Tree which features 10,000 LED sparkling lights and 1200 ornaments. The tree is located on the inside of the store by the famed Walnut Room. The Macy's on State Street Tree Lighting takes place on Saturday, November 7th at 12Noon. Recording Artist Jordin Sparks will be performing at the tree festivities.  

Art Institute of Chicago
Michigan Avenue at Adams
The lions will be wreathed for the 2015 Christmas season on Friday, November 27th at 10:00am. Chicago's legendary Art Institute Lions always get flowered up for Christmas. The wreaths will remain on our big cat buddies through the season. While you are at the Art Institute, go inside to view the art. There is a charge to enter the Art Institute. This is one of the great art museums in the world, so don't take it for granted.

Navy Pier Wonderfest
Chicago, IL
December 5-January 10
Navy Pier turns itself into a Wonderfest each Christmas season, featuring a number of different attractions, including ice skating and a train ride.

Handel's Messiah
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
220 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL
December 10 at 8:00pm
December 11 at 1:30pm
December 15 at 7:30pm
December 20 at 3:00pm

Disney's The Lion King
Cadillac Palace
Chicago, IL
December 2-January 17

The Nutcracker
Presented by the Joffrey Ballet
Auditorium Theatre
50 East Congress Parkway, Chicago
December 4 - December 27
Tchaikovsky's classic ballet set to his monumentally timeless piece of music is the single most elegant event of the Christmas season in Chicago. The Mouse King comes to life to take on The Nutcracker! Gorgeously produced! The Auditorium has a superb sound system, so enjoy the music and the visuals of the design and choreography. Sadly, this is the last year for Robert Joffrey's Nutcracker. After 60 years, it will not be taking place again. See this performance this year.  800 982 2787

Christmas Around the World & Lights Festival
Museum of Science & Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
November 19-January 3
9:30am-4:00pm - Open daily
Free for kids under three
The Museum halls will be decked and holiday singers will fuel the spirit of the season. The sparkle of dozens of decorated trees will greet you at this year's Christmas Around the World. The Museum's grand tree takes center stage in the Rotunda, while more than fifty trees representing nations from around the world adorn the Museum's Main Level. This is a highlight in the city every year. It's so magnificent that if you don't live here, take a trip to the city. If you do live here, then don't miss this fantastic celebration of Christmas Around the World. This wonderful annual event began in 1942 with one tree decked out and dedicated to the Allied troops during World War II.

Christkindlmarket Chicago 2015
Daley Plaza's Christmas Market
November 20-December 24
Christkindlmarket Chicago is a tradition brought here by the Germans. The shopping palooza is a Christmas shopping market that runs through Christmas Eve. It features unique crafts & gifts, entertainment and German food & drinks. German pretzels! Artisans and craftspeople from other countries participate as well. Santa Claus pops up every night at 8:00pm. He is working hard this Christmas season!

Home Alone Film Screening with Live Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
220 S. Michigan, Chicago, IL
One of the most magnificent orchestras in the world (get their Beethoven collection as conducted by the late Sir Georg Solti - that is the correct spelling of his name) perform live with a screening of the 1990's film classic, Home Alone.
Performance dates: December 12 and December 13 at 3:00pm on both dates

Kenny Rogers
Once Again It's Christmas
Star Plaza Theatre
Saturday, November 28 at 8:00pm

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
Lincoln Park Zoo
2200 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL
November 27-28, December 4-6, December 11-23, December 26-31
Lincoln Park Zoo gets into the Christmas spirit with their zoo lights display. Check out their ice carving demonstrations as well. 

Caroling at Cloud Gate - Fridays from November 27-December 18 in Millennium Park.
A different choral group performs each week. Free 60 minute sing-alongs. 

City of Chicago - State Street & Michigan Avenue
Lights! Everywhere lights!
Walk or drive down Michigan Avenue (Magnificent Mile) & State Street (that great street) and take in the Christmas lights on display. Walk over to Wabash Avenue where the elevated train runs overhead and you might catch the Holiday Train. It's a completely decorated Christmas train. You can look up the schedule by checking out the Chicago Transit Authority's site.

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"
Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL
November 14 - December 27
Timeless story of hope and redemption. Excellent production elements all the way around. Two hour show with intermission. 312 443 3800

Holiday Pops - The Messiah
December 12
St. Michael in Old Town
Two hour performance of Handel's Majestic Messiah.
25 piece Orchestra with a choral group consisting of some 80 volunteers.

John Hancock Observatory
Four states can be seen from the 96th floor of this building. Visits with Santa Claus and a holiday train display. Breakfast with Santa every weekend in December and kids get to hang out with Santa's special helper, Seemore Miles.

Brookfield Zoo
1st Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield, IL
Brookfield Zoo comes to life with more than a million twinkling lights. The zoo has a light laser show, animated displays, ice carving demonstrations and costumed characters (think lots of photo ops). Saturdays & Sundays in December - 4pm-9pm

A Chanticleer Christmas
December 1-2 - 7:30pm
Chicago Symphony Center
220 S. Michigan, Chicago, IL
Award-winning a cappella ensemble sings traditional carols, sacred works and Christmas favorites.

Vienna Boys Choir
November 28 at 3:00pm
Chicago Symphony Center
220 S. Michigan, Chicago, IL
The angelic voices of one of the oldest boy's choirs in the world.

Christmas in Geneva
Geneva, Illinois (suburb just west of Chicago)
Christmas with 200 shops. Geneva is a gorgeous town and worth checking out. The walk along the Fox River (bundle up) is worth a trip as well.
Holiday Open House - November 14-15
Christmas in the Country - November 22 - Annual Illumination Ceremony. More than two million lights followed by fireworks display.
December 4 - Festival of Lights - Tree lighting with Santa Claus.
800 345 1020 for more information.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
November 21 at 11am
Annual daylong event provides music, a tree lighting parade and fireworks.

Handel's Messiah
December 19-20
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
The Apollo Chorus of Chicago brings the mighty worship music of Handel's Messiah in a 2 1/2 hour perfomance.

Wonderland Express
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
November 27-January 3
Christmas and Hanukkah concerts, ice sculpting. $8-$12, free for children under the age of two.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Celebration of Christmas with the von Trapps
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
December 19, December 21, 22, 23 - All performances at 3:00pm. 

The King Elephant and the Mice
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
December 6 at 1:30pm
For young children.

A Christmas Carol
Drury Lane Theater
Oak Brook Terrace
November 18-December 23

A Christmas Story
Paramount Theatre
23 East Galena
Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun come alive in this stage production. $41-$56

Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre
November 1-December 31
Buddy, the human elf has left the North Pole and has arrived in Manhattan.

The Tenors
North Central College
December 18
Surely, the Tenors will be singing some Christmas songs and carols during their performance.

Please note: you should check specific dates and times since some of these schedules are subject to change.

If you are visiting Chicago, there are several five and four star hotels we highly recommend:
Trump International Chicago, The Peninsula, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Renaissance Blackstone, Sofitel Water Tower, Hotel Monaco, The Drake, Conrad Chicago

Christmas is a wonderful and miraculous event in history. There is a reason for this glorious season! Merry Christmas and enjoy the offerings in and around Chicago!

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Restaurant Review: Formento's - In the Heart of the Market District

We don't write reviews for lousy or even mediocre dining locations. It's not worth it on any level. I only spend time and effort on rewarding excellent eateries with a review. Chicago and Then Some made a commitment to engage in shining a light on the city's finest fooderies.

So to my fellow gastronomical gurus (or wannabe gurus) I found a superb entry into the stakes of fine Italian restaurants. Cooking Italian food is not easy. On the surface, it may seem easy, but it isn't. A great sauce is something to treasure and unfortunately, you rarely come by a great sauce or a great dining location, for that matter. Formento's on West Randolph Street is seriously worthy of your time.

The restaurant is a gorgeous display of understated elegance from the antique armoires to the distinctly eye-catching light fixtures to the magnificent presentation of the bar area. Formento's wields a big stick in the more than appropriate location for dining out for special occasions and for not so special ones as well. The service is excellent.

Chef and Partner, Tony Quartaro has provided fantastic food with superb presentations on everything from the exquisite marinara sauce to the desserts. Formento's hits all the objectives in the search for fine food, beautiful atmosphere and worthwhile service.

Appetizers are as wonderful as the entrees, but the jardinera sauce with bread which opens your experience is one of the highlights at Formento's. They can literally boast of having one of the best jardinera sauces in the city. Outstanding. Keep going for the bread!

Gluten free and dairy free options are available, but for those who need neither of those distinctions then go wild with this dining delight. Formento's is a must go to dining experience.

925 West Randolph Street
312 690 7295

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Chicago's Summer Festivals 2015

Chicago is home to a superb line-up of festivals all summer long. These are among the best of the fests! Enjoy summer!
May 29-31
Chicago Gospel Music Festival
Millennium Park
Superb Gospel music and the festival is free.
June 5-7
Lincoln Park Greek Festival
Greek Food! Live music and dancing.
June 5-7
Little Village Flavors of Mexico
26th & California
Authentic food from Chicago’s Mexican community.
June 6-7
Printer’s Row Literature Festival
Polk & Dearborn
Readers enjoy this festival! Read On!
June 6-7
57th Street Art Fair
More than 200 artists sell their glass, photography and jewelry in Hyde Park.
June 12-14
Chicago Blues Festival
Grant Park
Another free festival in Chicago. Expect B.B. King tributes all weekend long!
June 19-21
Taste of Randolph Street
Randolph & Peoria  
June 20-21 Gold Coast Art Fair
Grant Park
Arts and crafts at a higher end than the norm.
July 8-12
Taste of Chicago
Grant Park
The festival to end all festivals. 

July 10-12
Irish American Heritage Festival
Dancers, mashed potato eating contest, men in kilts contest.
July 17-19
Taste of River North
Kingsbury & Erie
Music and food.
July 19
Chinatown Summer Fair
Wentworth & Cermak
Lion dance procession, martial arts demonstration and food. One of Chicago’s oldest neighborhoods puts on a show!
July 25-26
Chicago Hot Sauce Festival
Hot sauces galore.
July 30-August 2
Fiesta del Sol
Pilsen – Cermak & Loomis
Largest Latino festival in the Midwest. Music, food and a carnival.
July 31-August 2
Grant Park
The city drives in the revenue on this event. This year, older, established acts join the festivities. Paul McCartney and Metallica!
August 7-9
Chicago Hot Dog Festival
Chicago History Museum
Annual celebration of the Chicago Hot Dog. Watch out for unusual toppings. Chocolate, perhaps?
August 7-9
Retro on Roscoe Fest
Damen & Roscoe
Retro live acts, antique cars.
August 8
Bud Billiken Parade
Gigantic parade!
August 13-16
Festa Italiana
Little Italy - Taylor & Ashland
Food, eating contests. This is an especially entertaining fest! Come hungry!
August 15-16
Chicago Air & Water Show
North Avenue Beach
One of the city’s finest weekends! Outstanding aerial achievements. Food and crowds. This is summer defined!
August 15-16
Great American Lobster Festival
Navy Pier
Same weekend as the air and water show. The lobsters are from the east coast – not Chicago! Music!
August 22-23
Taste of Greek Town
Halsted & Van Buren
Food! Mediterranean diets are healthy, so eat!
September 3-6
Chicago Jazz Festival
Chicago Cultural Center
September 4-7
Taste of Polonia
Copernicus Center
Chicago’s large Polish community gathers for a weekend of food, dancing and music.      
September 26-27
Chicago Gourmet
Millennium Park
Well over 100 chefs gather for food. Wineries and breweries are present in addition to the food.
September 25-27
Beer, brats and pretzels. The pretzels rock the town!
Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chicago a cappella - A Night on the Town

Nine talented vocalists comprised the roster of the Chicago a cappella performance I had the pleasure of listening to over the weekend. Tremendous musical versatility needs to be experienced, so if you have never seen them perform - plan on it soon.

Over the weekend I was treated to a performance of their splendid renditions and varied interpretations of 21 Beatles songs. We heard their performance on Friday evening and they will be hosting two more evenings of this literal pitch perfect and melodic musical joyousness, so attempt to catch their performances on Friday, April 17th at the Logan Center for the Arts or Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston on Saturday, April 18th.

a cappella music tends to attract an older skewing demo, so this was a relatively sedate crowd, but when you can take 21 songs and twist, turn and rephrase brilliant compositions and make them your own you have contributed mightily to the music backdrop of the city's entertainment landscape.

Kudos to Kathryn Kamp, Cari Plachy, Sarah Ponder, Emily Price, Garrett Johannsen, Trevor Mitchell, Matthew Greenberg, Joe Labozetta and Michael Roemer. The talent in the voices of these nine people makes one believe the music industry may not be playing the same deck of cards it once used.

Their 2015-2016 season also includes the upcoming History of Rock and Soul and a tribute night to Divas (Barbra, Beyoncé and Beyond).

The 21 songs in the Beatles tribute piece included great singing and some wonderfully perceptive background "noises," including whistling and traffic (yes, baby, you can drive my car). They even manage to improve on a couple of tracks. Yes, I am saying this. The George Harrison song, Within You Without You is done beautifully here. Their Good Night may even be more haunting than the original recorded version. Considering I am a Beatles die-hard, this is high praise indeed.

Enjoy yourself for an evening of music in the throes of some seriously gifted music talent. Check out the upcoming offerings at

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Restaurant Review: Roberto's Ristorante & Pizzeria - Elmhurst

The town of Elmhurst is among the top suburban downtown areas in Chicagoland. It's a delightful town center with worthwhile walking sidewalks. Roberto's Ristorante & Pizzeria is an authentic and homey Italian center of edible treats. The menu offers up a wide assortment of intensely Italian specialties; and one can also indulge in excellent meat and seafood offerings that aren't necessarily in the Italian vernacular.

We were all fully engaged in the superb dinner menu that also included near perfect bread options and excellent appetizers. Roberto's provides a downright suave menu punctuated with elegance and yet still streetside. Risotto specials are flavorful and undeniably first-rate. Pastas are tender and the capellini was spot-on in cooked perfection. Lasagna is wide, long and top flight. Italian food is inevitably about the sauces and the sauces here are superb. Top ranking goes to the marinara. A tasty pesto was quite good as well.

The highlight appetizer was the Fiore Di Latte featuring a hardy Mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil and some roasted red peppers. The peppers were unexpected and now I don't know if I would want it any other way.

The service is impeccable and we even had an Italian (yes, a server born and raised in Italy) server which managed to extend the concept of Italian dining to a level rarely achieved.

Roberto's Ristorante & Pizzeria
483 Spring Road
Elmhurst, Illinois

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015

Friday, February 27, 2015

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center Proves To Be A Must-See In Suburban Chicago

Chicago has been gifted with a wide assortment of spectacular museums. Visitors from inside and outside of Chicago's borders can choose from a variety of different locations, including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, the Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium, Planetarium and a large number of smaller museums that cover everything from nature to various ethnicities.

The largest Holocaust Museum in the nation is in Washington, D.C., but Skokie's Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is an outstanding museum that serves to educate, restore and memorialize the millions of people who were catastrophically destroyed by evil hatred.

The museum offers solid information on the overall historic journey that dates back to the end of World War I; and takes the visitor through a thorough and near all-encompassing history from that period through the end of the Second World War. Since it is a Chicago based museum there are multiple examples of Holocaust survivor stories from this area, including five detailed stories of marriage, family and love that survived.

Discussing and studying the Holocaust is never an easy situation due to its graphic background and brutal nature, but this is history and even though multitudes have said "never again" we are now witnessing the rise of not one, but several terrorist groups taking down Jews, Christians and fellow Muslims just because of what they do or don't believe.

The museum ends with a lovely room of remembrance and a hall for thought. It's a physically beautiful location with stunning features reaching around every turn of a corner. One of the items in the museum is an actual train car once used to carry our fellow human beings to the gas chamber prison camps.Standing in it made me feel below human. I can't even bear to see cattle in a train car, so the imagining of a human being in one is a near devastating experience even with the weight of seventy years plus.

This museum is highly recommended, so set your calendars for a destination at some point this year. There are some graphic film clips and images, but schoolchildren 12 years and up would be able to learn from the history.

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center
9603 Woods Drive
Skokie, IL
847 967 4800
Free Parking
10am-5pm - Mondays through Sundays with an 8pm closing time on Thursdays

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lyric Opera of Chicago - Backstage Tours

The Lyric Opera of Chicago is one of the most significant of opera houses on the planet and their backstage tours are delightful. Two full hours with ten stops within the framework of that historical site. You don't even have to know anything about an aria to enjoy the tours.

The building was completed in 1929 (interestingly enough it was the year of the Stock Market crash that led to what has become known as the Great Depression) and its stunning design is worth the time to the site.

You will get an insider's view of the costume area and the orchestra pit. The highlight may be the view from the catwalk.

Tours are offered January 31, February 15 and March 22. Advance tickets are required at

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015      

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Restaurant Review: Joe Fish

As a frequent diner, when I find good, great or exceptional restaurants I want to share the experience. Joe Fish is a near exceptional dining experience. From the gorgeous sea blue hues in the décor to the outstanding food placed upon the plate this 2014 entry in Chicago's food landscape is on the list of the definite do try restaurants for just about anyone who enjoys eating. As we enter 2015, we wanted to focus on a restaurant that opened during 2014. Celebrate the year we are exiting and anticipate what wonderful food will be presented to us during the new year. This River North beauty is a hot spot of good food. The outstanding service marries the food that is consistently good.

In spite of the physical beauty of the restaurant design (lots of blue - it's a seafood locale) and the superb and professional staff, Joe Fish delivers an unstuffy vibe. It's not inexpensive, but based on the high quality of the food and the lovely presentation of the meals it's relatively reasonable.

I'm a bread person, even though I've been trying to take off three pounds for about six months, so if I could eliminate the bread I might actually accomplish the goal, but wait - there is no way you want to pass on the bread at this delightful near north location. Four types of bread are offered and they were all delicious, but speed toward the sea salt with the butter to top it off.

Looking for the calamari Chicago winner. After a search for the definitive calamari I have found what I will label as the best calamari on the Chicago food map (Capital Grille is also a good catch for excellent calamari). Unfortunately, the calamari was a special. Put that on the menu for all comers to enjoy and savor!

The salads are wonderful and the one non-salad person in the crowd absolutely loved the salad they indulged in. The Mediterranean Branzino arrived full fish with head and all and it was de-boned by the outstanding server. The Branzino is a creamy fish and the tastes were jarring in a good way, so the olive oil and herbs blended well with the fish. Sides of broccolini and the broccoli with spinach (smothered in garlic and olive oil) were outstanding.

The Jumbo Shrimp with sun-dried tomatoes and acquerello risotto was excellent and it was prepared and presented with obvious food affection.

Our server was knowledgeable and professional, but we were afforded the treat of witnessing other servers who took time to check in with us as well. The staff were all top notch and well schooled.

The only complaint was a cold bathroom, but then again it was cold out.

Joe Fish has a tag that says "get hooked" and I would encourage anyone seeking out a near encyclopedic doctrine of how to prepare and present seafood to go to Joe Fish.

The restaurant is part of the Rosebud brand and they live up to their superb status that has been around for a long time in the Chicago area.

Joe Fish
445 North Dearborn
312 832 7700

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015