Not quite an opening, but Stella Barra (home to one of the city’s best pizzas), has transformed into Stella Barra Pizzeria & Wine Bar (1954 N. Halsted St., Lincoln Park), with a bigger wine focus and new menu items, like pastas and thin crust tavern-style pizzas in addition to their regular thin crust pie with a puffy edge.
It may be the end for styrofoam packaging in Chicago. A new ordinance has been introduced in City Council that would cut way back on the amount of single-use and non-recyclable materials used by Chicago restaurants. Despite lots of inflammatory headlines, the ordinance is fairly nuanced and includes a bunch of exceptions, but the bottom line would be a serious change in the way restaurants do business in the city. Definitely a topic to keep a close eye on.
It’s been a bad year already for mediocre chains from the ’90s. First, Chicago’s very last P.F. Chang’s closed. Now, Chicago’s last California Pizza Kitchen has closed. I remember eating the then-pretty-radical arugula-topped pizza there when I was in high school. Back then, CPK was still interesting, but times, it seems, have moved past the chain.
Any interview with Michael Muser — of the Jean Banchet Awards and forthcoming Ever restaurant — is fun to read, but this one from Better is a hoot. Rather than being heavily edited, it just allows Muser’s manic energy to run free. His thoughts on fine dining are, as ever, worth reading.
What could be more awesome than drinking great wine to support a great cause? Wine on Wheels is this Sunday at RPM Italian (52 W. Illinois St., Near North), and will feature more than 100 different wines to taste. Proceeds support two different organizations, Backbones and Wheeling Forward, both of which help those with physical disabilities. Tickets are $99 and are available online or at the door.