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Italian Kicks, Cheap Tricks

Goodbye Milk, Hello Prosciutto

Carol Watson recently shuttered her Milk & Honey Bake Shop (1543 N. Damen Ave.; 773-227-1167) with plans to spin it into Cipollina, an Italian deli. “Business was fine, but I screwed up, quite frankly,” says Watson. “We don’t have a kitchen on site, so we were dragging everything over from Milk & Honey Café [1920 W. Division St.; 773-395-9434], and it was driving me nuts.” Watson is now working with John Manion (Mas) on a menu of…

Goodbye Milk, Hello Prosciutto

Carol Watson recently shuttered her Milk & Honey Bake Shop (1543 N. Damen Ave.; 773-227-1167) with plans to spin it into Cipollina, an Italian deli. “Business was fine, but I screwed up, quite frankly,” says Watson. “We don’t have a kitchen on site, so we were dragging everything over from Milk & Honey Café [1920 W. Division St.; 773-395-9434], and it was driving me nuts.” Watson is now working with John Manion (Mas) on a menu of “straightforward, superfresh” gourmet sandwiches ($6 to $8), plus a display case full of meats and cheeses, pastries, and Italian sodas with homemade syrups. Manion has apparently enjoyed the process. “I’ve been stuffing my face with cured meats and Italian cheeses, olives, preserved vegetables, and Italian sodas,” he says. “My life is hard.” ETA: Late June.

Quotable

“Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.” –Unknown

A Conversation with Rick Nielsen

Nielsen, the legendary guitarist/songwriter of Rockford’s Cheap Trick, is also a partner at Piece (1927 W. North Ave.; 773-772-4422). An online auction to benefit Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS) begins on June 13th, and Nielsen will arrive in a limo to deliver five Piece pizzas to the winner.

D: So how does this thing work?
RN: The bidders go to Piece’s Web site, starting on Friday, and it’ll take you to an eBay auction page. Bidding starts at $150, and the auction lasts ten days. Winner has to eat pizza with me. I will take guitars in trade, of course, too.

D: Will you bring a guitar?
RN: Yeah, I might. I’ll probably bring some guitar picks.

D: Bill (Jacobs, Piece’s owner) says he was in the sixth row at your show at Petrillo last summer, and you flicked a pick from onstage that hit him in the hand.
RN: Yeah. Is he mad?

D: I don’t think so . . . I hear a dog barking. Is that your boxer?
RN: Yeah. Karzzo. I like animals. I think [hooking up with PAWS] is doing something good for the community. This whole thing is for charity, and it’s got flair.

D: What five pizzas would you choose if you were on the other end of this deal?
RN: I think I’d get the meat lover’s, a white pizza with basil, one of the great veggie pizzas, a Cajun pizza, and the chocolate dessert pizza. I débuted that one when I did the show with Rachael Ray a few years back.

D: What’s your involvement with Piece?
RN: I think the reason it’s doing well is I’m not running it. . . . I have a face for radio. . . . I love that pizza, though. And the beer is great—I’ve heard. I’ve never drunk it. I drank every day for 36 years; then I quit. People tell me how good it is, and I say, I know what it tastes like.

D: What is Cheap Trick up to at the moment?
RN: We’re playing Sgt. Pepper’s in its entirety with a full orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl this summer. Guess they figured we were the only ones who could do it.

D: How did that happen?
RN: We’re good friends with [former Beatles producer] George Martin. I was at his house recently, and I walk in the bathroom to take a whiz and he has a copy of [Cheap Trick’s 1980 LP] All Shook Up over the toilet. It was right next to Sgt. Pepper’s.

Next Stop

“After thinking about rising food trends, we discovered that Latin American is an up-and-comer that people haven’t discovered as much as they should,” says Rob Garrison, a partner at the brand-new Depot Nuevo, 1139 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette; 847-251-3111). “And no one is doing anything like that close to here.” (Whether they are or not, it’s safe to say no one else is doing it in a historic century-old train depot.) Chef Alvaro Chavez (The Noodle) has crafted a menu of dishes such as a seviche Boliviano, chicken sopa, and chipotle-rubbed trout with bacon-cabbage confit and served with jalapeño sour cream mashed potatoes. Bonus: a 60-seat patio that Garrison calls “the most beautiful outdoor dining porch on the North Shore.”

Motion Denied

Jacky Pluton, formerly of Jacky’s Bistro and Pluton, is back with Haussmann Brasserie (305 S. Happ Rd., Northfield; 847-446-1133). Sounded like a sure-fire hit in the north suburbs, so Pollack trekked up to Northfield primed for roasted chicken. The room (formerly MK North) has been done over to watered-down brasserie effect; what’s with the diner-brown banquettes? The food is straight-up casual French, but it tastes . . . straight-up boring. Other than a savory tender liver, most everything missed the mark: Soft lardons detracted from an otherwise good frisée salad; frites were limp and salty; capers, cauliflower, and lemon sauce failed to ignite sautéed scallops. Peach clafouti provided a cozy end, but why didn’t anyone tell us about the beautiful cheese cart next to the bar? Pollack’s husband, aka Mr. Dining, said it best: Pluton seems to be just going through the motions.

Things to Do
  1. Compare the big four regional barbecue styles (Memphis, Kansas City, the Carolinas, and central Texas) at Weber Grill Restaurant (539 N. State St.; 312-467-9696, plus locations in Schaumburg and Lombard) during its “Barbecue & Bourbon Fest,” which lasts through July 5th.
  2. Seek out Smoke Daddy’s three barbecue sauce flavors, which have gone retail and are currently available at Treasure Island (seven area locations), Olivia’s Market (2014 W. Wabansia Ave.; 773-227-4220), and Paulina Meat Market (3501 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-248-6272).
  3. Drink a Grain Belt beer on the strength of this ad alone.
Dot Dot Dot . . .

The phone at Feed the Beast (4300 N. Lincoln Ave.) has been disconnected. . . . Barack Obama dined at Blackbird (619 W. Randolph St.; 312-715-0708) last Friday. . . . Shikago (190 S. La Salle St.; 312-781-7300) is now open for dinner on Saturdays . . . Journeyman chef Eric Aubriot has left Andersonville’s Il Fiasco (5101 N. Clark St.; 773-769-9700), which is now serving a late-night menu on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . Just up the street, Anteprima (5316 N. Clark St.; 773-506-9990) has opened its outdoor patio, which includes a vegetable garden and weekly rotisserie nights. (June 13th is the first one.)  . . . Mike Nagrant has a good profile of Graham Elliot Bowles (Graham Elliot) in NewCity. . . . Add us to the chorus of congratulations to Grant Achatz (Alinea) and Carrie Nahabedian (Naha), who won much-deserved James Beard Awards this past weekend.

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