Double Date Night at Spacca Napoli

Tell me something: What took me so long to try Spacca Napoli? I don’t think I’ll ever know, but let me tell you why YOU need to go (if you haven’t already; if you have, spread the word!).

I heard this was Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s favorite pizza in the city, and I can definitely see why. This Neapolitan-style pizza is so delicious, it left me wanting more–and we ordered three pizzas! We being myself, Nate, and our friends Bridget and Trey.

I’m constantly striving to visit new neighborhoods/neighborhoods I don’t explore often, so I suggested some options near where Bridget and Trey live. To Ravenswood we went, starting with a nice white wine and Polpo Grigliato (grilled octopus with arugula and tomatoes). Perfect serving for four and great dish to hold us over while we waited for our pizza.

For our brick-oven, Neapolitan-style pizza, we tried: Margherita, Salsiccia (sausage), and Prosciutto and e Rucola (prosciutto and arugula) pizzas. The pizzas are served uncut and are big enough to share, giving the experience a very family-style feel that I liked. All of the pizzas were fresh and delicious, and it was nice to be able to taste more than one. Three pizzas was a good order for us, but bad because we were too full to eat anything else!

I’m definitely going to return. There are too many different pizzas for me to taste (if you can’t tell, I love pizza)! Make sure to put this restaurant on your “to try list”!

Notes for my friends with dietary needs: they can make you gluten-free pizzas with 24 hours notice and have a dairy-free option, too.

Spacca Napoli
1769 West Sunnyside
Ravenswood

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Week #35 – Water Taxi & Lao Sze Chuan

Nǐ hǎo from Chinatown!

Honestly, this one goes down as one of my favorite things I’ve done for the blog so far! I’ve had a water taxi ride and visiting Chinatown on my to do list since the beginning of the blog, and I couldn’t have picked a better group to check these activities off the list.

Bridget, Trey, Lauren, Bill, Gina, Erin, and I all met at the Madison Street water taxi station around noon to take the water taxi down to Chinatown. For $5 (each way), we could take in the beautiful sights of the city…on a water taxi!

We boarded the boat and walked toward the front to get the best view. I was worried about the boat being a little rocky, but rest assured, these taxis are smooth sailing. We caught up as we headed south on the river, posed for photos (see below!), and enjoyed the hot summer day.

Quickly we arrived at the Chinatown stop, where we were greeted by a huge Chinese structure (which we posed by on our way back to the loop). We walked through the winding residential streets until we arrived at the heart of Chinatown, where there’s a square, and lots of shops and restaurants.

Not only is Lauren the coordinator (and mom) of the group, she and Bill lived in Singapore for two years and traveled extensively around Asia, so I gave her the task of choosing our lunch spot. Lao Sze Chuan was her choice, and I couldn’t have been happier. Recognized by the Michelin Bib Gourmand, Lao Sze Chuan is one of the highest rated Chinese restaurants in Chicago!

Natalie and Pat met us there, and we started off our meal with a spicy cabbage appetizer (brought to every table, like bread) and green tea. We ordered Tsingtao beer, per Lauren and Bill’s suggestion, and it was refreshing on that warm day. For appetizers, we snacked on crab rangoon and pot stickers, and for the main courses, we had a little bit of everything: sesame chicken, sauteed green beans, shrimp with broccoli, fish, crispy spicy chicken, mongolian beef, spinach, orange chicken, and I know I’m missing more. The best thing about going to Chinatown with a bigger group is that we were able to sample so many different flavors. And what meal isn’t complete without dessert, a.k.a. a fortune cookie! Now, I don’t know about you, but I am superstitious and won’t read my fortune until I’ve completely eaten my cookie. My fortune was: Time is the wisest counselor…in bed. Don’t you add “in bed” to your fortunes? Once you start, you won’t stop, I promise. 😉

After our delicious meal (I will definitely return!!!), we wandered around Chinatown, looking in the shops and getting lost in the summer heat. When we returned to the square, we took pictures by the different Chinese zodiac signs: Erin, Gina, Pat, Natalie, and I are dogs; Bridget and Lauren are pigs; Trey is a monkey; and Bill is a horse. (In no other context is that sentence appropriate!)

From there, the majority of us headed to the water taxi to return home. Seriously, before this hot summer weather goes away, take a water taxi ride down to Chinatown for a bite at Lao Sze Chuan. It’s like a really inexpensive architecture tour with a good meal in between. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. I know I wasn’t!

Chicago Water Taxi

Lao Sze Chuan
2172 S. Archer
Chinatown

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Week #32 – Untitled

Two of my good friends—Bridget and Liz (who happen to be cousins!)—both have birthdays in the summer, so we usually celebrate them both together! The girls picked Untitled in River North, and it was an awesome choice.

I was running late so I didn’t get to take a photo outside, but as you can imagine, the storefront is discrete (hence, Untitled). As I ran downstairs, I was transported from downtown Chicago to a speakeasy from the past.

The restaurant/lounge is huge, and there are many different rooms to explore. The hostess guided me to my friends’ table—I think there were nine of us—in a private booth with a drape to block out the other guests. We had such a great time catching up and laughing until we cried, all while the Prosecco flowed and courses and courses of food were eaten.

Of all the small plates we ordered, I think the fried pickles and bacon cornbread were delicious, but the seafood tower  (full order) was by far the most decadent. I was lucky enough to get some lobster (with the butter it’s out of this world) and shrimp, and I think I’d come back for the tower alone.

During the evening, I got up and wandered around the restaurant, into the library-themed lounge area and the huge room with live music. Later that night, there was a little person playing the drum in the lobby area of the restaurant. That was definitely a first!

After a stressful day of apartment hunting, Untitled helped me forget about my worries and unwind with my gals. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a unique dinner/lounge experience with friends. Enjoy!

Untitled
111 West Kinzie
River North

Sorry the pictures aren’t the best. It’s really dark in there to set the mood.

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