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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



SAVOR The Albert stuns with Calabrian-inspired cuisine; Dolci Amori
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 1141 times since Mon Apr 3, 2023
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The Hotel EMC2, in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood, certainly stands out in a city that's started with places to stay.

Elements of arts and science are present throughout the hotel, from the room to the lobby to the restaurant, The Albert (228 E. Ontario St.; ). This might be one of the few hotels that will appeal to all five of one's primary senses.

The Albert definitely will appeal to the senses of taste, sight and smell. The vibe is cozy (thanks, in large part, to the huge stacks of books—some of which are originals), stimulating (in terms of curiosity) and just plain fun.

This spot is the latest venue for Chef Steve Chiappetti, a gregarious professional who's been at The Albert for only about six months—but who has already put his indelible stamp in a menu that's a tribute to his Calabrian heritage. (Staples of Calabrian cuisine include chiles, the spicy salami nduja, seafood, licorice and bergamot, among other things.) In listing what he had only done for the last few years, Chiappetti blew my mind and that of my dining companion; he worked non-stop, sometimes managing several businesses simultaneously.

Telling us that he has "an affinity for hotels" and that he likes to serve "fun, approachable and [even] interactive" options, Chiappetti also overwhelmed us with the quality (and quantity) of The Albert's offerings.

And not using any hyperbole, I have to say that this food was transformative.

One of the reasons I say that is that Chiappetti's offerings managed to do the near-impossible: They got my friend to like risotto and Brussels sprouts. My dining companion has always been leery of risotto in restaurants, saying the dish is often overcooked (and I tend to concur); he disdains Brussels sprouts because, well, they're Brussels sprouts.

However, the risotto here (served with a blend of mushrooms, toasted garlic chips and veal reduction) was very creamy while the Brussels sprouts were perfectly cooked—although the toppings of honey, parmesan and pepper flakes didn't hurt.

But there is so much more to the dinner menu at The Albert. For example, the polenta board is a shared item—but you'll want it all for yourself. The creamy polenta is poured on one end while the other end has two sauces (although on this evening, they were mushrooms and pesto); both tasted absolutely wonderful with the dish.

As for antipasti, we tried the smoked duck (served with fresh mango and black truffle relish along with salted almond) and fried artichoke (with lemon gremolata and hot house arugula). Obviously, decades of being a chef have taught Chiappetti which flavors complement which dishes, as both items were delightful, with the artichoke being incredibly tender.

Then, there were the pastas. I've already mentioned the risotto but we also tried the tagliatelle and ravioli. We came away with varying reactions with the dishes, although both were delicious. The tagliatelle (with braised veal, beef, a chianti reduction and parmigiana) seemed heartier and more robust, while the three-cheese ravioli (my favorite dish of the night, as it also had white truffle cream sauce and was topped by balsamic to cut the richness) felt like a velvety hug. I defy anyone to eat just one raviolo, even if the pockets are sizable.

But there's even more, in the form of prime entrees. Options include salmon, cioppino (with whitefish, shrimp, mussel and scallop, with a fennel saffron broth), chicken, pork chop and a trio of beef cuts—sirloin, tenderloin and ribeye. We opted for the latter, served with honey mint-glazed carrots and a rich potato torte. I've had few cuts in all of Chicago that have tasted better, as the doneness and caramelization were near-perfect.

Now, with all of that being said (or typed), somehow you have to make room for dessert. All of these dishes will have you living la dolce vita, and I especially liked the olive-oil cake, which seems to be relatively rare in Chicago. (I can only remember having one at the now-shuttered spot Green Zebra.) The Albert's cake comes with pistachio, flowered honey, sweetened cream and orange curd. However, my friend's fave was probably the 54% chocolate mint cake, accompanied by strawberries marinated in prosecco. Lastly, we were impressed with the affogato bomb—a mascarpone-filled chocolate sphere that melted with the addition of warm caramel sauce. It was a masterpiece.

You should also partake of the drinks at The Albert. The mixologist, Patrick, has come up with some incredible concoctions. I thoroughly enjoyed Northern Lights (vodka, elderflower, lemon and chamomile) while my friend readily took to the Vesuvius (aptly named, as it incorporates smoke with a heady mix of whiskey, sugar and bitters). An espresso martini is an excellent way to end the night—and is a nice change from the cappuccino some people usually have.

That being said, The Albert's bar menu is pretty impressive in its own right—and the price points are more agreeable. Items include The Albert Burger (which comes with truffle fries), crispy shrimp and sesame wings as well as desserts such as the Chocolate Tower and the spiced carrot cake.

By the way, The Albert's items are not on Uber Eats, Grubhub or even Tock. However, I guarantee that the trek to this spot (and Hotel EMC2) is worth it.

Note: This visit was arranged.

Italian bakery Dolci Amori has opened its fourth location, at 1150 N. State St., in Chicago's Gold Coast.

In a brief conversation, owner Ciro Longobardo (who co-owns the restaurant Piccolo Sogno with Chef Tony Prioli) told Windy City Times that most of the pastries at Dolci Amori are connected with Naples, where he is from. There are items connected with Sicily as well, he added.

However, there aren't just sweets. According to the website, "What sets us apart is a contemporary take on Italian pastries, pizzas and fresh paninis."

Dolci Amori's other locations are 2010 W. Pierce Ave. (in Wicker Park), 3025 N. Clark St. (in Lake View) and 494 N. Milwaukee Ave. (in River North, near Piccolo Sogno).

See .

This article shared 1141 times since Mon Apr 3, 2023
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