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Thin-Crust Pizza Has Its Day

A Tale of Two Pizzas
La Madia (59 W. Grand Ave.; 312-329-0400), a long-awaited contemporary pizzeria, opened on October 17th; four days later and three blocks away, Pizzeria Via Stato (620 N. State St.; 312-337-6634) fired up its new Wood Stone oven and baked its first Roman-style pizza. So how do these two River North competitors stack up? La Madia’s crust has great personality—tender chewy, an eense of salt, and lots of soul. Via Stato’s is no slouch, however, with its lighter-than-air blistered collar and crackery texture. Topping for topping, La Madia’s artichokes were light on flavor but the…

Chicagoween

Not too long ago, I called up the owner of Fantasy Costume Headquarters on Milwaukee Avenue and asked which costumes he predicted would sweep Chicago. His top picks for this year: caveman masks and pirate paraphernalia. He was riffing, of course, off the Geico cavemen character and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Well, since Saturday, I’ve attended three Halloween parties and a pumpkin-carving fête, and I have not spotted any cavemen. I’ve seen a pirate or two. By far, the most popular costumes I’ve seen are Amy Winehouse (complete with the Blake tattoo over the bosom) and the “d*ck-in-the-box”…

Housing Bulletin—On the Block — North Center, Chicago

Yesterday afternoon, the day before Halloween, several real-estate agents and their children went on a special trick-or-treating route on the 4100 block of North Bell Avenue in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood. Stopping at five of the six houses that are for sale on the block, the kids picked up treats—but what their parents saw was pretty scary.

On this block alone, there are four new replacement houses in the $1.2-million to $1.4-million price range, all finished (or nearly finished) and unsold. Also listed for sale are…

Halloween for Grownups

Forget long road trips stuck in the car with squabbling siblings (although we had some of that, too): My 10-day trip to Italy completely redefined “family vacation.” We spent a chunk of the trip holed up in a Tuscan villa, but we were officially there for my uncle’s wedding, which took place in Rome at the magnificent Borghese Castle . Who knows? The next wedding I attend could be my own…

PLUS: A few spots to get your own trick-or-treat on

Guest Blog: Jeff Awards Redux

My take on the Joseph Jefferson Awards, which happened last night at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, is that the ceremony is pretty boring unless you are 1. a nominee; 2. an actor who was in or a person who worked on a nominated show; or 3. drunk. I drew my third conclusion from the mob scenes around the Grey Goose vodka free-martini bar, at which two bartendresses languidly shook cocktails for the restless throng, and the cash bar, where I found Jeff Award-nominee Jason Loewith standing with veteran actor Mary Ann Thebus…

Week 25: Tragic Bus

Had a primo seat on the bus today, and was enjoying my space and my sports page when I noticed an overweight woman get on. She scanned the bus, saw that there were no seats left, and picked me to stand over and sigh exaggeratedly at. Great.

Normally, I give up my seat as often as the next guy, but I was so comfortable and I had a heavy backpack and was wearing tight shoes. Why am I always the one who gives up his seat? Let that dude over there with the big hair give up his. And something about the woman’s intrinsic grumpiness rubbed me the wrong way—screw her for making me feel guilty—so I ignored her and turned up my iPod…

Nanette Lepore Opens in Bucktown

Amore, Lepore
Chicagoans have been shopping her feminine, bohemian apparel for years, and now Nanette Lepore opens her first Midwestern boutique in the former Jolie Joli space in Bucktown at 1623 North Damen Avenue (773-489-4500). Opening on Nov. 1st., just in time for cool weather, the boutique offers Lepore’s luxurious fall line, which features gorgeous jewel tones and lush fabrics such as velvets, satins, and tweeds. The collection offers a range from more formal eveningwear—a sequin shift dress ($370) and a sparkly brown cocktail dress ($410)—to more casual items such as a purple satin top with a keyhole front ($215) or a tweed bubble coat ($495). The store’s décor combines…

Sale of the Week—Libertyville’s Two-Time Market Beater

List Price: $1,149,000
Sale Price: $1,113,000

The Property: This shingle-sided house on a tree-shaded street has sold twice this year, and very quickly, flouting the slow market that has irked so many sellers. Built five years ago by the prolific Nick Lazzaretto, the house is far larger than it looks, extending way back into its lot; that allowed the façade to fit comfortably among the neighboring, mostly mid-size older homes. The house has five bedrooms and four-plus baths, a big third-floor family room, and lots of old-style millwork, including wainscoting, mantels, and cabinetry…

A House Divided on Passion

Here at Chicago magazine headquarters, we’re divided about Passion, the Sondheim musical that’s playing upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre through Nov. 11.

Passion is one of the hot tickets for fall, partly because of its director (Gary Griffin) but mostly because of its star: Ana Gasteyer, the SNL alum. Gasteyer doesn’t live here, but one of her early ventures into musical theatre was opening Wicked for Broadway in Chicago. Now she’s back!…