[Note: With the COVID-19 outbreak, Illinois restaurants and bars have been ordered closed through Monday, March 30. However, this article is being run to acknowledge the work of the staff involved, and in the hope that healthy readers will consider patronizing this spot once the ban has been lifted.]
In a city known for its deep-dish pizza, Labriola ( 535 N. Michigan Ave.; LabriolaCafe.com ) may have set a new standard.
The five-year-old casual Italian spot ( as well as the suburban La Barra restaurants ) marked National Pizza Day ( Feb. 9 ) by adding a unique pie: the white deep-dish pizza. This 14-inch version of this pizza ( $35 ) has bechamel Sauce, chicken, bacon, caramelized onionsand two pounds ( ! ) of cheese. ( The best part may be the caramelized cheese on the edge, called "fricka." ) My dinner companion and I could only eat one slice each, as they're thick and very rich. They were also undeniably delicious.
However, Labriola and La Barra offer far more than this soon-to-be classic pizza. Shareable small-plate dishes include grilled asparagus with fried egg, pecorino and extra virgin olive oil ( that my friend really enjoyed ); Prince Edward Island mussels; and toasted ravioli "nachos." I found the arugula ( with truffle honey, goat cheese, pears, black pepper and lemon vinaigrette ) absolutely sublime, and it's just one of several salad options that includes a Sicilian seafood version. Of course, there are loads of housemade pizzas, divided into categories such as artisan, thin-crust, deep-dish and DIY ) as well as entrees like filet sliders, Italian pepper steak, chicken Vesuvio and seared salmon. And don't forget luscious dessert offerings like the cheesecake. ( Also, Labriola has weekend brunch with pepper-and-egg sandwiches, Italian skillets, blueberry pancakes and other tempting items. )
By the way, here's a little backstory on Labriola. Rich Labriola ( who also owns a dozen's Stan's Donuts stores, including the one next door ) started the whole empire in 1993 with The Labriola Baking Company, with it eventually sold to J&J Snack Foods in 2017. Thankfully, he decided to expand into the restaurant business.
With the white deep-dish pizza, Labriola continues its tradition of outstanding Italian cuisine.
Note: Profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.
Chef sets up COVID-19 cooking hotline
James Beard Award-winning chef Sarah Stegner has opened a hotline to help people with cooking tips during the COVID-19 crisis.
"We realize that many people need help and we want to offer our assistance by providing information and answering cooking questions," Stegner, who is the chef at Northbrook's Prairie Grass Cafe, said in a statement. The telephone number for questions is 847-920-8437.
Stegner will be available daily at 2-4 p.m. CT.