Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Blogger's Lunch at Chicago's "Quartino Ristorante"




When I knew I would be accompanying my husband on a business trip to Chicago, the first person I thought of finally having a chance to meet was Marie, of the Proud Italian Cook blog.  I discovered Marie's blog almost five years ago, when I first began blogging myself, and have followed her posts faithfully since.  Her recipes began as traditional Italian cuisine favorites but have evolved over the years with a focus on more healthy prepared recipes with an Italian flare.  Marie works wonders with vegetables of all kinds, yet she still treats us all with spectacular dessert recipes, now and then, as you can see from her recent Chocolate Ricotta Tart recipe!


The day my husband was scheduled to go to a Chicago Cubs baseball game with his co-workers, Marie and her friend Mary-Alice met me at our hotel and we then walked over to Quartino Ristorante Pizzaria and Wine Bar located at 626 North State Street, Chicago, Illinois. Both Marie and Mary-Alice had read rave reviews about Quartino and wanted to try it, over my initial suggestion that we go for Chicago style deep dish pizza.  I'm so glad we made this decision!


The restaurant had a wonderful old world European flare, and it would have been wonderful to sit outside for our repast and enjoy the sights and sounds of Chicago, but the unusual high eighties and humid temperatures of that day made us decide to go inside for the air conditioning.

The upstairs dining room.

The inside of the restaurant was quiet and cool and very conducive to conversation.


Seeing the Salumeria (Italian cold cuts) counter on the main floor and the delicious home made bread on display made my mouth salivate, and I knew we were going to have a delicious lunch!


Quartino's specialty is authentic Neapolitan thin crust stone oven pizza, homemade fresh pasta and seasonally prepared specialties served in small plates and meant to be shared. They also offer a gluten free menu and have an extensive wine list.


A portion of the menu (you can double click on it to enlarge the photo)


We decided to share the special "Salumeria Tasting" selection where you get to chose from a selection of  two Salumi, two Formaggi (cheese) and three Spuntini (snacks). We choose prosciutto, spicy sopressata, Asiago and sweet Gorgonzola cheese, roasted peppers, marinated artichokes, eggplant caponata, which was served with an assortment of olives, bread and condiments.


Our pizza choice was roasted portobello mushrooms and crushed fresh tomatoes.


Everything was expertly prepared, very authentic and delicious! It was the perfect portions for lunch and we were able to fill our dishes a few times as we shared the wonderful food along with our long and happy conversation. We shared a few good chuckles about our regional accents and Marie and Mary-Alice especially loved the way I pronounce coffee as "caw-fee," with my undeniably Brooklyn accent!  It felt as if we have been friends forever.

Our waiter, Josh, was very attentive and knowledgeable, and made us feel welcomed and unrushed the entire meal.


Josh took a somewhat blurry photo of the three of us with my camera, but as I have been suffering with a corneal scratch of my right eye, and my eye has been somewhat swollen for a few weeks, I think I'm fine with a blurry photo and I was honestly happy that I did not have to cancel the trip altogether, as I first feared when I injured my eye. Marie is standing on the right and Mary-Alice is seated.


We were going to order "Zeppoles"  for dessert, which are fried donut like pastry, but Josh suggested the Apple Fritters -- an excellent choice!  Because we also mentioned a desire for something chocolate he surprised us with this heavenly chocolate molten cake .....


...served with a large dollop of vanilla gelato!


When Mary-Alice and I mentioned to Josh that Marie was a food blogger, and had been named by the Chicago Tribune as one of their favorite food blogs, the manager came out to greet us and also the executive chef, John Colleta, who is also the author of a pasta dishes cookbook.


It was also a thrill to see a framed Chef Colleta's chef's jacket autographed by Julia Child in the restaurant lobby.


Marie gifted me with a bag full of her wonderful fig and pistachio biscotti, which my husband and I devoured with gusto the next morning as breakfast. I gave her a copy of the newly published "My Calabria --Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South" as I think she will enjoy the very flavorful recipes and preservation techniques that the author covers in the book as much as I have, and I look forward to seeing some of her interpretations of the recipes in this book on her blog one day!

If you love Italian food (and who doesn't?) you will love both the Proud Italian Cook blog , and Quartino Ristorante in Chicago!

I'm linking up this post on Michael Lee's blog Designs With Gollum for her wonderful "Foodie Friday" event!  Lots of wonderful recipes, food events and restaurants from around the country are shared there so please drop by Michael's blog!



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54 comments:

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Sounds like you had a great trip Pat and that was a beautiful lunch!(Although I wouldn't mind catching the Cubbies myself:@)

podso said...

You do so well taking us along with you! Sounds and looks like a very memorable time!

Barbara F. said...

I am drooling over that lunch, Pat! xo,

Old Kitty said...

Pat!!! It's nearly midnight here and I am drooling over the pics of your sublimely Italian meal!! If only I could reach across the screen and taste some of that pizza!! Good grief!! Oh wow! And what a brilliant way to meet your bloggie friend too!

I'm so sorry about your eye! I hope you are ok now and the swelling has receded!! Take care, please!
x

Pat said...

Fun time, Pat! Great post and wonderful photos.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

pat
thank goodness you didn't have to cancel your trip to Chicago. you have really been jet-setting all over the world, lady. keep on having fun.
I have long been a fan of Marie's and was wishing I could have shared that table with the three of you. Everything looks so tantalizing and your photos are terrific.

Peggy said...

Oh my, what a lunch. How I miss Chicago. This post was fabulous, and it sounds like you had a great time. I'll always be a Cubbies fan! Thanks for sharing, and I'll following your blog now. Peggy
www.angel-babycreations.com

Helen said...

Your post today ~~~ delicious. I can almost taste everything you shared with us. Italian food on State Street - that great street, doesn't get any better.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Awww, I could almost cry that was so sweet Pat! Meeting you was like catching up with an old friend,you are in person just as I thought you would be and more. We had the best time! Mary-Alice and I our still talking about it. I hope we can do it again sometime, your city or mine.
Huge Hug,
Marie

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

How wonderful that you got to meet the Proud Italian Cook! This looks like a wonderful place to eat and I will be making a note of it the next time we visit Chicago.

Hope your eye is doing better - ouchy!

Kate said...

What a delightful trip. It is so nice to have a chance to meet up and enjoy some great food and conversation. It sounds as though you did just that!

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

You travel to the best places. Boy,did everything look delicious. How nice that you got to meet another blogger.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wow Pat.... Meeting up with special friends and having a fabulous lunch had to have been marvelous. Couldn't have been much better, could it?????? SO glad you had that wonderful experience.
Hugs,
Betsy

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Sounds like a fabulous time to me! I'm looking forward to visiting Chicago one day...if for no other reason that to try their food. You make it all most appealing!

Claudia said...

I love reading Marie's version and then yours. What a trio of dynammos you all are! The photos spoke of happiness! That platter beckons so much I think I will have to go there just to sample that. And Pat - your photos - they are a thousand words.

The Gathering Place said...

What a fun place to meet up with a fellow blogger. Sounds like so much fun!

Vee said...

It's always so much fun to read about these meetings with fellow bloggers. Wow! The chef came out and greeted you and everything. How cool is that?! That was one wonderful looking lunch and I'm sure that it tasted divine.

(Hope that you're feeling better and that your eye is fine. Nothing much more annoying than an eye scratch.)

I'm trying to think how I say coffee now. Hmmm...

Carol said...

Fantastic, Pat! Nice you got to meet up with your blogging friend, the restaurant looks awesome, it all looks just fantastic!

You say chaw-clet, too? LOL!

I have a Brooklyn accent, too, even though I moved when I was three :)

Pondside said...

That was a decadent post! I'd love to have been there, but this was the next best thing!

Ⓙ @ $ € € ₦$ ₣®0₥... said...

Wowza Pat! This looks like a place I could live....the restaurant, not Chicago itself. :)

Ola said...

food and the whole restuarant look perfect! Good to meet people thanks to blogging

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

How fun to have lunch with Marie. You are so right Pat. Her blog is wonderful (I've been following too). She had a virtual blog party a couple of years ago and it was my first time as a new blogger to do anything like that.

Your restaurant choice sounds awesome. The servings were more than generous and it's always special to have a waiter who caters to your tastes with his suggestions.

Your photos were amazing as always Pat and I would have never guessed you were having blurred vision. Hope your eye continues to improve.
Sam

Houseelf said...

Oh my what a special day! I can almost smell the biscotti! It looked like such a wonderful place for foodies like yourself to go for a meal. I bet it was so lovely to meet the ladies in person even with your sore eye.

Maria M. Boyer said...

Wonderful, Pat! Reasons to get back to Chicago, sooner rather than later! Hope you'll blog a recipe or two out of that cookbook!

Maria M. Boyer said...

(You do own a copy yourself, don't you?)

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

I am soooo hungry now, Pat!! Great photos, by the way!! blessings ~ tanna

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/Lavender Hill Studio said...

That restaurant looked amazing. I know how fun it is to meet bloggers and it looked like a wonderful time was had by all.

Did you get my email about coming to NY?
Hugs,
Penny

Kathleen said...

Looks like a fun day. The food looks great!
Hope your eye is better!

lines n shades said...

that is a wonderful place. and the food looks delicious :)

and thank you for the links.

Grandmother said...

That looks delicious! And my kind of food. Thanks for the recommendation for the Italian Cooking blog as well. Good food is such a pleasure.

Dianne said...

I love Chicago, have visted there many times
sounds like a great trip and an especially wonderful lunch with friends

hope your eye is feeling better

Nicole Feliciano said...

Sounds like a great trip and a tasty meal. So glad I found you from the Designs By Gollum link. If yo get a chance, I'd love for you to swing by Momtrends and share this on our Friday Food Linky.

http://www.momtrends.com/2011/05/recipe-linky-summer-salads/

H said...

Wow! That food does look good!

Hope your eye is better soon.

nanny said...

Another great trip and what a lunch....those appetizers look fantastic and then to have a perfect pizza too....yum!

Hope your eye is all better now!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Thanks everyone! My eye is still healing and I'm not on the computer as much as usual but still sneaking on when ever I can ;-)

Penny I will e-mail you soon! I am very excited about your visit!

Marie --Of course I have a copy of Rosetta's cookbook "My Calabria" I love it and I knew Marie would also love it.

Happy@Home said...

That looks like a fabulous restaurant and a memorable day spent meeting a fellow blogger and her friend. I have Marie's blog in my favorites and enjoy it very much.
Hope your eye is feeling better.

ARLENE said...

How I wish I could have joined you all for lunch. The antipasti looked incredible as did the pizza. I love my copy of My Calabria as I'm sure Marie will love hers. What a fabulous foodie fest.

Sarah said...

Pat, your trip is full of great food! You have me going to bed hungry. LOL
Hope your eye is much improved. ~ Sarah

diane b said...

Thanks for all those great links. Italian food is my favourite and I would love that restaurant. I wonder if we will be anywhere near it on our tour to Chicago. The temperature surprised me. I didn't think it would be that hot so far north. I'm not sure what to pack. If I pack all summer clothes I'm scared it might get cold in some places. If I take some winter clothes I may never use them. Oh well I guess I'll take a bit of both just to be on the safe side.
The food looks delicious and what fun to meet a blogger .

RNSANE said...

What fun to meet fellow bloggers in Chicago ( I so regret we didn't meet during your San Francisco visit! ). Your lunch sounds and looks fabulous. I enjoyed every minute of it - though it certainly would have been more fun in person, savoring every bite!

Gracie said...

WOW you indeed indulged yourself! It seems you all had a nice time together (and a wonderful lunch).

Jeanne said...

Hi Pat, I finally grabbed a few minutes for my computer blogging friends. Soon, (this Weds.) we are heading to Maine for the month of June. We are knocking ourselves out getting the RV ready to travel.

Your trip to Chicago looks like you had a wonderful time. The tulips you shared are gorgeous. I think we need to plan a trip to see Chicago. What a beautiful historical city.

I know your visit with Mary-Alice was was a wonderful time for all of you. I have never been to Mary-Alice's blog but I will check it out.

The lunch you had at Quartino Ristorante was obviously delicious. The photos make me drool. Imagine the chef having Julia Child's autograph on his smock. That is just outlandishly awesome. How fun that Mary-Alice was able to meet him and get a photo too.

I hope your eye has improved by now. I can tell one of your eyes was a bit swollen. Ouch. I still love the photo of the three of you and by your smiles I know it was a special day.

Here's to having fun in the great city of Chicago. I didn't know any buildings were spared by the great fire. As always, terrific posts by a terrific blogger.
I mean it!!!
Love, Jeanne

bj said...

Wow...what a fun time you must have had. The meeting a blogger would be enuf but to have a wonderful lunch like that...PERFECT...:))
So glad you had fun.
xo bj

Penny said...

So glad you stopped by. It is so much fun to meet other bloggers. I am from your neck of the woods; SW Michigan ( Dowagiac to be specific ) Looks like you had a great time. Come back and visit.

Yvette said...

OMG! I am so envious. I LOVE ITALIAN FOOD and really, there's nothing in the world like a fabulous Italian restaurant. The food photos are so luscious, Pat.
(I'm sure the food tasted even better than it looked - if that's possible.)

What a treat to get to meet another favorite bloger and spend time tallking blogs and food and whatever.

And thanks for sharing the experience with us, Pat. You know
what a vicarious groupy I am. HA!

P.S. Hope your eye is better. Well, at least it didn't stop you from enjoying yourself. :)

Barbara said...

Quartino's food and presentation look delicious! What a find in the midwest! My sister and husband lived in Chicago suburbs for 20 years and my brother-in-law, Gary, would always take us to Il Vincinato on S Western Ave. Yummy and authentic Italian.

Jenny said...

What fun! Loved this post! And it made me drool, too! I hope your eye is feeling better. That sounds very uncomfortable.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Certainly looks delicious.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Hi Pat, I am finally catching up and what a treat to read this post! You are making Chicago look very good...and I will probably have a chance to go in the near future. My husband is currently in France and Belgium and while I could have tagged along, my house is full of teen/young adults and I thought this was the better place for me. Your food pictures are very, very appealing!!
♥, Susan

Theanne and Baron said...

What a fantastic meal you had at Guartino with Marie and her friend! Lovely photos...almost feel like I was there! I visited Marie and found she had some recipes that I believe I can incorporate into my low fat eating plan! Thanks for introducing your Chicago friends to us!

Beverly said...

Yum, Pat. Your meal looks fantastic!!! I know you must have had such a great time visiting a new place and meeting a friend. You made another lifetime memory.

Sheila said...

How wonderful to meet with a blogging friend and have such a great Italian experience together. I will look forward to checking out Marie's blog. Hope that your eye injury is healing as it should. Take good care Pat!

Joyce said...

Perfect post as I am going to Chicago for the first time soon and thanks for the Calabria book suggestion as my grands came from Calabria! I always enjoy your posts.
Joyce

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Ooooo...I think I have a new place to visit in Chicago! That portobello pizza looks amazing.