-Eating my way through Chicago

Chicago, Chi-Town, the Windy City, call it what you may….the food there is incredible. I may not look like I’m much of a foodie (5′ tall, 98 lbs – sorry to get a bit “personal” here, ha!)

I absolutely love Chicago; it’s a beautiful city, filled with many tasty-licious foods. Having just been up in Chicago a few months ago, I wanted to break the tie between Giordano’s and Gino’s East deep dish pizza. I swore that Gino’s was “better.” (Better is all relative, personal preference if you will.)

A little back-story on how this challenge began between the two restaurants. Upon arriving in Chicago in July, on our very first night there, we ordered in. Exhausted, we patiently awaited the arrival our deep dish personally designed pizzas from Giordano’s. Mine was….well, good but somewhat dry. On our final night in Chicago, we met up with my cousins, Frank and Betty, for a Chicago-style deep dish pizza dinner at Gino’s East in downtown Chicago. Not only did we endulge in their deep dish pizza but I had the absolute best thin crust pizza I’ve ever had at any non-Italian pizza spot.



Upon my return to Chicago this month (October,) I was determined to have another go at Gino’s delicious deep dish pizza as well as Giordano’s (in the restaurant this time.) It was time for a tie-breaker decision.  Would it be Gino’s East or Giordano’s for the win?




For the record, after dining at Giordano’s two nights in a row (because the first night, their pizza completely won me over, perfect amount of sauce, tasty ingredients, perfectly crisp buttery crust…..) there was absolutely no need to go back to Gino’s. Giordano’s pizza is perfect. I can’t vouch for their thin crust….but their pan pizza is mmmm, mmmm good.

When in Chicago, do as the Chicagoans do….eat deep dish pizza (and Chicago hot dogs at Portillo’s by all means…..)


Take me back to Chicago….

If you’ve been following my blog, then you’ve read about my self-imposed Gino’s East versus Giordano’s Pizza battle.

Let’s rewind a bit. Upon arriving in Chicago (in July) and checking into the hotel, exhaustion and yes, hunger set in. Not wanting to go out to eat, what does one do? When in Chicago they order deep dish pizza in. Now, the awesome thing about Giordano’s is they have individual sized deep dish pizzas, which I created and order. Upon arrival and my first bite…well, it was good but it needed more. More. Sauce. In my humble opinion, it was a bit too dry. And very very cheesy.

My final day in Chicago led me to dining out at Gino’s East. What a hip spot to eat in and hopping too! There is a 45-50 minute wait when ordering a deep dish. But don’t worry, you can always order a thin crust while you wait! And their thin crust is the bomb!!!! Oh my goodness!!!! It melts in your mouth. The thinness of the crust is perfect. Their deep dish arrived shortly after and it was delicious but a bit gooey. Cheese and sauce slithered off, like a volcano erupted each time a piece was lifted from the tray.

On my most recent visit, I dined in at Giordano’s and as you know if you read my previous blog, it was Giordano’s for the win as far as deep dish goes. But Gino’s East has my heart as far as decor (graffiti walls, anyone? , atmosphere, and thin crust pizza.) I’m looking forward go Gino’s East coming to Atlanta later on this year. While the wait for deep dish may be long, it is well worth it! The experience is never rushed, no matter how crowded they may be.

Not only do I love to eat…

I’ve already confessed, I’m a foodie. And yes, I know, I look like I never eat. But I promise you, I do. Deliciously good food is a must in life’s pleasure box. How can you enjoy life without good food? Because I love great food and I enjoy cooking, I’ve decided to write a cookbook filled with my favourite recipes and memories behind them.

Today you get a sneak peek at one of the recipes. I’m fond of it simply because we often had it for dinner at my best friend’s house in Italy. It’s a hearty dish and perfect on a cooler evening. In Italy, dinner tends to be served late (8 – 9 p.m.) and as is any other meal there, it’s a social affair. Tis bad for the digestion to eat alone.

Buon appetito, readers!! And should you make the dish, please post photos and comments!!

Pasta con Fagioli – Pasta with Beans


Olive oil

One onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 16 oz cans of Northern beans

2 cups ditalini or other pasta for soup (Ditalini works best)

2 32 oz vegetable broth

1-1 1/2 lbs roma tomatoes, diced

Salt to taste

Rosemary to taste

In a large pot, add oil, onion and garlic. Sautee for several

Minutes. Then add broth, beans, tomatoes, salt and rosemary. Bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add ditalini, cook to al dente and serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

There’s A Bus, There’s A Plane…

I was recently in Rome (Georgia, not Italy) for the Wings Over North Georgia Air Show. While taking the long way home, through backroads of North Georgia, a Volkswagen Bus with Wings caught my eye….and we just had to stop in for a few photos. It was the most unique advertisement I’d ever seen and I’ve seen Volkswagens used as advertisements before. This VW Bus Plane was well put together and flying high, which peeked my curiosity and brought me inside Sam’s Burger Deli – Schroeder’s New Deli located in Rome, Georgia. The entrance of the restaurant had a real plane complete with the landing gear above the door.

The interior walls caught my eye first, filled with hundreds of portraits of veterans, each one taken in the restaurant by the staff. The bar counter was a plane’s wing and the doors were the plane’s fuselage.

With all the fun aviation decor, there was plenty for the eye to see while waiting for my salad. The wait wasn’t long at all and the salad was amazing! The philly chicken that topped the salad was delicious, moist, tender and with melted cheeses and seasonings, I’d recommend you go light on the dressing!!! The menu is simple with burgers, sandwiches, and salads. And if you’re a fan of aviation and all things veterans (the owner is a veteran and apparently a VW fan and aviation enthusiast as well) it’s definitely worth a stop in! You won’t be disappointed!

And if you’re a veteran, be sure to ask to have your picture taken and put up on their wall of honor!!!

Either You Love It Or You Don’t

I just so happen to be a Nutella fien…as in, “Hi, my name is Joy and I am addicted to Nutella.” (I “smuggled” four glass jars in my carry on back from Italy before Nutella was ever a “thing” in the USA.) I grew up on the stuff. My formative years were spent living in Southern Italy. Nutella is part of the four (or are there five?) food groups there. When people who’ve never tasted it hear the word “Nutella” they immediately think “chocolate spread.” But no! It’s hazelnuts with a bit of cocoa mixed in foe that perfectly delightful hazelnut taste that we all love.

When I learned Chicago had a Nutella Cafe (the first location of its kind) I absolutely had to make a visit and taste the deliciousness. Sure, I can buy my own jar and make delicious treats myself but this was an experience not to be missed!!

The Nutella Cafe happens to be located a block (or two) from Millenium Park and about the same distance from the Chicago River, right there on Michigan Ave. I visited on a Sunday afternoon and arrived only moments before the crowd. It’s cute. It’s trendy. It’s hip. And most of all, the menu is ALL Nutella. From crepes to desserts to coffees and hot chocolate, all featuring my (okay, our) beloved Nutella. I feasted on the grilled baguette, with mixed berries added. The flavours were intense and while it was meant to be shared (sharing is over-rated when it comes to Nutella — get your own) I ate it in its entirety. Alone. Just me. And it was heavenly scrumptious. I think I’d like to try one of everything on the menu and perhaps, I will. That was just a start.

I will return when I’m in Chicago for more of that amazing stuff! And I know there will likely be a wait for a table, but I am more than willing to pack my patience for that sweet treat!

My only wish: that they had a nifty little Nutella gift shop!

This Long-Forgotten Technique Will Vastly Improve Your Blog

The Art of Blogging

If you’ve been blogging for at least a few months, you’ve probably noticed by now that most of your success as a blogger comes from being able to sit down and punch those damn keys.

That is it.

Writing blog posts, editing them, selecting images, pitching guest posts, answering comments, and all the other tasks that require you to punch some keys on a keyboard or tap your fingers on a touchscreen.

And this thing does not change. In fact, the most successful bloggers just want it a bit more than just about everyone else, so they put a bit more time and effort into punching the damn keys.

But there’s another element to your success that you may have be neglecting with all that work and focus.

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-Those Chicago Dogs Tho…




There’s a hard and fast rule when it comes to hog dogs in Chicago. Never, ever, ever put ketchup on your hot dog. It’s against the law to put ketchup on a Vienna Hot Dog.

When in Chicago recently, I made a stop into Portillo’s. Portillo’s in definitely a must have experience when in Chicago. And by experience, I mean expect long lines and a decent wait time to pick up your food. And be prepared, the pick up “line” is organized chaos. But it is so so worth it. In exisistence since 1963, it’s one of the original hot dog joints in the city. And hot dogs are definitely not the only thing on the menu (although it was the only thing I had while there.) The menu is extensive and includes an Italian beef & sausage sandwich (which was so very tempting to try.) They serve pasta and sandwiches and delicious looking desserts. But those Chicago dogs, you’ve got to have at least one. I know what’s on my list when I return again: that Italian Beef and Sausage sandwich. Mmmmm…..Mmmmm….Good.

Pack your patience and bring a friend, as someone is going to need to scout out a table (unless you plan on taking it “to go,” which just isn’t quite the same experience.) It’s such a fun, lively, casual atmosphere. One you’ll want to experience again and again while in Chicago.