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The Original Nottoli & Son Review Chicago

The Original Nottoli & Son Review Chicago

The Original Nottoli & Son Review Chicago

The area around Harlem Avenue, just south of Interstate 90, about twenty miles NW of downtown Chicago, has truly become the area’s new “Little Italy.” There are literally dozens of Italian-centric delis, markets, bakeries and restaurants.

I’ve looked at a couple of them before, including another deli named “Nottoli” (no relation I am told), a restaurant/pizza called “Dino’s,” (superb pizza), and a market and take out operation, “Rex.”

This particular Nottoli I became aware of due to shouting on the internet saying it was absolutely the best, and also being featured on a local tv program called “Chicago’s Best.” (Irony)

My goodies from Nottoli?  An Italian Beef Combo sandwich (combo means with a sausage nestled in the beef), an entree of sausage and peppers, some repacked Cerignola olives, several pounds of fresh Italian sausage for the freezer) a loaf of bread and a pound of meatballs.

The Italian beef was one of the best I have had anywhere, ever. It came “baptized” (completely dipped in au jus) so it was quite messy, but isn’t messy food the most bigly funniest?  The olives were a real disappointment, as the giant Cerignola red olives should be very firm and bursting with woodsy flavor (I cure olives at home, so like the insurance company ad says “I know a thing or two.”)  These were lifeless and mushy.  I suspect this happens when a quantity is taken from a vat of intense brine and they are repacked in smaller containers in a water bath. Just no.

Meatballs were fine, good flavor, good texture, but I prefer the ones at Rex, they have a much more intense flavor of fennel and garlic.  Bread? Superb. Sausage and peppers?  Same great sausage as in the Italian beef, so no complaints there.

If you love Italian food, take an afternoon and plot a course for this neighborhood, have a pizza, buy some treats at the Sicilia Bakery (which I will write about in a bit), and then hit one or more markets. The markets also stock dry and canned goods imported from Italy. The other Nottoli has the largest selection in that realm.

The Original Nottoli & Son Review Chicago

Meatballs and bread

 

The Original Nottoli & Son Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Original Nottoli & Son Review Chicago
The Original Nottoli & Son Review Chicago

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Gino’s East is a downtown Chicago restaurant that specializes in one of the versions of “Chicago Deep Dish.”  They opened just off the Ginos East Frozen Pizza Reviewmagnificent mile in 1966.  They subscribe to the version that is “crust, cheese, toppings, sauce.”

Other versions  in the same segment are more focused on the amount of cheese, and can be labeled either “Deep Dish” or “Stuffed.”

Gino’s has opened other outlets around Chicagoland and out of state with mixed results.  They have, however, been very successful in capturing a sizeable portion of the frozen pizza market, both in the deep dish and thin crust categories. (Crack thin crust, square-cut pizza, often called “Tavern style” is also very popular in the Chicago area.

One aspect Gino’s is noted for is the “sausage patty” deep dish.  Instead of bits of sausage as a topping, there is a solid patty of sausage which stretches crust to crust.  Their sausage is very gently seasoned.

They use a quality cheese, with good stretch, and their tomato sauce leans towards slightly sweet and chunky.  Crust is flaky, both top and bottom.  The frozen pie weights two pounds, and I paid $5.99 for it this week.  It’s usually a bit higher.

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Festive Foods Plant

I’ve probably purchased these 4-5 times, and candidly, I’ve never had what I would call a 100% success rate with them. I can’t get them to bake evenly. They’re in the oven for 45  minutes plus, but invariably I end up with hot/cold territories, even if I spin in during cooking.

Don’t know why.

Gino’s are made by a company called “Festive Foods” (pictured) a contract manufacturer in Waupaca, WI, a town in the north-central part of the state.

If you never get to Chicago and can’t find the pies in your local grocer, you can get a five pack shipped to you, for about $25 a pie, including shipping.  That’s about the same price you’d pay at the restaurant, not including beers, tax, and tip.

 

 

 

 

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

 

Smittys Pork Tenderloin Review – Leonore, IL

Smittys Pork Tenderloin Review

Smittys Pork Tenderloin Review

Smittys Pork Tenderloin ReviewThe pork tenderloin, also known as BPT (b is for breaded) is a popular sandwich in the Upper Midwest, particularly in Iowa and Indiana. And occasionally in Illinois.  It’s similar to Wienerschnitzel.

A pork cutlet is cut and then smashed to make it larger and thinner, dipped in breading, sometimes cornmeal, panko, crushed saltines and deep-fried.  It is usually served on a hamburger bun, garnished with any or all: tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, pickles, onions.  Frequently accompanied by fries as a side.

There’s been a friendly competition among purveyors to lay claim to the title of “the largest,” and certainly in Illinois the small town of Smitty’s in Leonore, takes the title. Leonore is a booming locale south of Lasalle-Peru, 100 miles West of Chicago.  Population 13o.

I rolled down there on a Saturday, aiming to beat the lunch “crowd” so I called in my order (still, as of this date, curbside service only).

Both I and the sandwich arrived at the same time, and like those who have gone before, I agree, this baby is YUGE.

And delicious. Proper amount of breading, gently seasoned, good quality pork taste and texture.  Excellent pickles and fresh cut onions.  There are tables outdoor for diners to enjoy their BPT’s or other items until the interior opens up again.

Worth a drive.

Iowa has an entire “Tenderloin” you can try and conquer.

I’ve written about tenderloins on the trail and also in Indiana.

Go on, go for it.  You know you want to!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smittys Pork Tenderloin Review

Smittys Pork Tenderloin Review

Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illinois

Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illinois

 

Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illinois

Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illinois My heart is aching for mom and pop businesses during the 2020 pandemic. Most operate on very thin margins in ordinary circumstances, but do survive only on take out? Tough sledding.

You probably haven’t heard of “Quad Cities Style” pizza, but it’s just as unique as “New York” or “Chicago Deep Dish” as far as having its own unique niche in the pizza hierarchy.

Here the distinguishing features of “Quad Cities Style:”  Dough may have malt incorporated in it.  The sauce is usually spicier than most preparations.  Toppings all reside underneath generous, quality cheese, and finally, the pizza is cut in long strips rather than squares or slices.

The crust usually borders on “thinner,” but Slugger’s more resembles what most would refer to as “hand-tossed.” Puffy and chewy on the exterior, crispy as you work your way inland.  I’m usually in the camp of “cracker-thin,” but I genuinely enjoyed this, tho it was rather filling. He does hand toss, watched him, unusual (and welcomed!) in the day of dough shelters and pre-made crusts!

Slugger’s take an unusual approach to sausage, but many will prefer it.  They use a crumbled pork product, only very gently seasoned. There’s an absence of what is usually found in pizza sausage, namely garlic, fennel, and so on.  I didn’t miss them.

Sauce leans towards sweet, but still a bit of kick.  Black pepper?

Excellent cheese. Great flavor, great texture, great pull.

I have heard talk that there is an above-average lunch buffet but did not verify that tidbit.  Daily specials though.

Full menu.

The place is very clean.

Two sizes only, 12″ and 16″.  The latter with two toppings ran around $24, slightly less than the average in the Upper Midwest at present.

Yes, I’ll go again when I am in the area!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slugger's Pizza Incorporated Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illinois

Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illnois

 

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Curlys Pulled Pork ReviewCurlys is one of the brands of (now Chinese owned) Smithfield, the world’s largest pork processor.  They slaughter about 50,000 hogs a day to keep up with your demand for Nathans wieners, Kretschmar deli meats, Cooks hams, and many other product lines.

Curlys makes seven different BBQ products: pulled pork, beef, and chicken in sauce; sauceless versions of the pulled meats. And fully cooked whole slabs of baby back ribs.

The pulled meats are in the refrigerated or freezer cases of your grocer; they come in one pound tubs, and rings up at about .43 cents an ounce.  I purchased the pulled pork in sauce, and it can be heated (it’s fully cooked already) in the microwave or stovetop.

There’s a considerable amount of meat in the sauce.  The BBQ sauce itself is thick and fairly sweet. (Ingredient list below).  The meat has an authentic pulled ‘cue’ taste and texture.

I ladled it out onto a Turano sandwich roll, a popular Chicago brand.   It’s a bakery type roll, soft but substantial enough to hold “wet” meats. I like my BBQ sandwiches like they serve in the Southeast US, topped with slaw.

The product will appear in my kitchen again in the future, tho if I can find it, I’ll go with the sauceless choice, and try some of my own preferences, like “Carolina Gold.”

Curlys Product LocatorCoupon.

INGREDIENTS: Pork, Water, Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Mustard Bran, Modified Corn Starch, Natural  Smoke Flavor, Caramel Color, Spices, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Tamarind Extract.

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

In the tub.

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Factory in Sioux City, IA

 

 

 

 

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

 

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review. “Fish and chips” was the ‘national dish’ of England for 100 + years, starting in the mid-1800s.  It was really one of the first examples of “fusion cuisine” as both of the components were brought to the country by immigrants.  At the peak of the dishe’s popularity, there were reportedly over 35,000 fish and chips shops in the UK.

Cod and haddock were the usual fish utilized, with a semi-thick breading, and deep fried.  “Chips” (French fries) were thicker, heartier cuts of potatoes that in the U.S.

Another tradition for the industry was the take-out food was wrapped in newspapers.

I lived in London in the 1990s, and by then fish and chips shops were few and far between. “Curry” had replaced the swimmers as England’s favorite take-out food.  I had to actually hunt for fish and chips to sample.

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

Cooked product.

Young’s Seafood has been around for over 200 years.  They were initially known for “potted shrimp” and later became the innovators to bring frozen scallops and shrimp to the public.

Young’s is England’s largest specialist seafood brand, capturing nearly 20% of the $1.4 billion fish and chips market.  Their frozen line includes a variety of different types of servings of cod and haddock.

I purchased the single serving product, which included one filet of cod and a handful of fries.  It suggested baking at 450 for 22 minutes, and I did exactly that.

I was more than pleased, and it exceeded my expectations.  The fish breading was crisp, the flesh firm and flavorful.  The fries were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  They were not pre-seasoned, which is nice.

I would buy this product again, in the larger quantity bag, to have on hand.  It’s one of the very few selections I have had in this segment that I regard as “swell.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

 

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Thorntons BaconAddict ™ Colossal Cheeseburger Review

I’ve written A LOT about gas station sandwiches, burgers, pizza.  Often times, they are made by the same companies, like Big Az, which is part of AdvancePierre, which is now owned by Tyson.

Today’s purchase, the “BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger” was picked up at Thornton’s, a Midwest-centric gas station/c-store chain.  While Thornton’s has their own roller grill and other heat and eat foods, they also stock some of there refrigerated items.

While there is no USDA establishment number on this package (odd), I believe it is made by AdvancePierre, based on finding similar named and appearing products in my heavy  “research” for this piece.  This burger was made on April 9, and has an expiration date of 4/23. Whew, room to spare.

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Frozen patty with bacon, cheese

Weight is 9.3 oz.  In addition to no USDA number, there are also NO INSTRUCTIONS for heating, so I punted based on my past experiences.  I also disassembled it prior to heating. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up with a frozen spot in the bun or meat and other areas scalding. You’d think they could fix that.

The burger uses the “circular bacon” which is commonly found on these types of items.  BTW, on the first link above, it’ll take you to a page of my other review but also a VIDEO on how gas station sandwiches are made.

So I went 90 seconds on the meat, 30 seconds on the bun (separated) and it seemed to work out.  Added mustard and pickles.  If you had a ready supply of the usual burger vegetables, you certainly wouldn’t be able to distinguish this from McD or BK, other than this bun is a bit higher in quality.

The patty has good texture and the same artificially induced “flame-broiled” taste as BK, which I suspect comes from Liquid Smoke.  Or, if you remember the old Hardee’s jingle, it’s “Char-cooooo broilllllled!” (You don’t? So YouTube it).

So? Satisfactory.  Retail cost $2.99.  Wholesale cost, (according to a distributor’s price list)  $2.94 each, 10 cents off if you buy six, larger discounts if by the pallet. Uh huh.

If you’re jammed for time or location, this one will do.

 

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Vollwerths Blood Sausage Review

Vollwerths Blood Sausage Review

Vollwerths Blood Sausage Review

Blood sausage is made all over the world with varying protein ingredients, including pork, beef, goat and other meats.  The meat is added in different amounts, depending on the region, along with the animals blood and it is allowed to dry or congeal enough to be put into a natural casing.

This version is made by YOOPERS!  Say what?  Yoopers is a nickname for people who live or are from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which if you haven’t been there is kind of a world all its own.  The manufacturer, Vollwerth,  has been cranking these and other ring sausages out since 1915, along with links, ground meat hubs, and several canned meat / sauce products.

The ingredients in this version include: pork snouts, beef blood, pork, calcium reduced dried skim milk, salt, flavorings, dextrose, sodium nitrite. Oink.

As you can see from the pic at the right –>>> the consistency is crumbly, much like (Mexican) chorizo or the Cajun sausage boudin. As such, this isn’t Vollwerths Blood Sausage Reviewon my regular shopping or consuming lists.  I don’t think bursting casings is automatically going to happen, just occurred because of the way I cooked the ring.

It’s really good flavor, granted, I just don’t like the texture of these products.  The filler in boudin is rice.  There used to be a boudin rouge, which had blood in it for color, but that has fallen by the wayside.

I’m using it to supplement the traditional Cajun dish of red beans and rice, which a friend asked me to prepare for their family today, even tho red beans traditionally IS ONLY SERVED ON MONDAYS!

The product locator on the website isn’t operating, but you can buy some of their products online, including sausages and their canned products.

A picture of the factory is below.  It’s in Hancock, Michigan.  You might be familiar with another UP food product, “pasties” which are meat and vegetable-filled pastries that were brought to the area by Cornish miners.

Vollwerths Blood Sausage Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vollwerths Blood Sausage Review

Vollwerths Blood Sausage Review

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LAGabriele Bonci. He’s from Rome. Has a popular pizza place there. Set his sights on the US market, and curiously, the place he chose to debut his concept was Chicago, arguably a population that has very strong opinions about their pizza. He opened one, then another. Added New Orleans. Next up, I think I heard is Miami.

His concept is a “reinvention” of the pizza.  He’s focused on local ingredients and at any one time during the day has 12-15 different pizzas in the showcase.

You point, they point back as a way of inquiring how large of a slice you want of these rectangular pies in the display.  Give a nod, they nod, they weigh it (his pies are sold by the pound),  pay (strictly a non-cash operation, btw), they finish your selection in the oven for a few, reslice into bite-size morsels, call your name.

You fetch. You eat.

The Details

The crust is “thick” by American standards, but light and airy, resembling focaccia. The tomato sauce is pure, and the cheese is ample.  I tried two different kinds (pictured) a meatball, and onion and provolone. The latter was the better of the two.  There weren’t a whole lot of meat selections when I was in the New Orleans store.  I was opening for some spicy salami, or perhaps prosciutto, and the like.

But meatball was it, and the topping was actually bits of meatball as if they had chopped a ball into pieces or actually made them mini-ball size. The flavor was fine, but I’m of the school that cooks meatballs directly in the sauce, leaving a soft, crumbly texture.  Bonci appears to be from the meatball school of cooking separately,  baked in the oven until the outside is crispy/crunchy.  Not my thing.

Onion/provolone was boldly flavorful.  Though I missed a helping of processed pork products as we American pie eaters are used to expecting, it was quite good.

Another downside (for me)?  Kinda spendy.  As pictured,  $14 worth of pizza.

BTW, don’t be surprised to see fruit as a topping.  Beyond pineapple. Which doesn’t belong on pizza in any case.  Nor does chicken.

I spend a lot of time in Chicago and had always meant to get into his first U.S. outlet, but it’s an inconvenient location for me.  So it was just a coincidence that my introduction to Bonci (bon-chee) happened in New Orleans.

I didn’t find it exceptional enough to merit a return, especially because I have so many favorites in Chicago.  But you should try it. Especially as traveling to Italy seems to be out of the picture for the time being.

Oh yeah, if $110 + for a pizza doesn’t seem unreasonable to you,  they ship.

Locations and timesPhoto gallery.

 

Bonci Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

National WWII Museum Review New Orleans

National WWII Museum Review New Orleans

National WWII Museum Review New Orleans

National WWII Museum Review New OrleansBring tissues.  Lots of them.  If you have any heart at all, you will cry at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.  Odd, I lived in New Orleans, and never visited.  It opened in June of 2000 at the “National D-Day Museum” conceived by two local scholars, Stephen E. Ambrose and Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhDs.

An act of Congress in 2004 designated the facility as “America’s National WWII Museum.”  Comprised of exhibits detailing the operations in both the European and Pacific theaters, as well as related activity on the homefront, the museum is housed in multiple specially built structures, and the staging of the exhibits goes way beyond what most are used to seeing in historical museums, with lifesize dioramas, airplanes and vehicles, professionally made videos with historical coverage and much more.

Inside the Campus

After paying your admission, you start your self-guided (guided are also available) tour by being handed a plastic card with a dog tag number on it.  National WWII Museum Review New OrleansEach number represents the story of a single person from the war, including members of the allied and axis forces, POWs, internees in prison camps both overseas in the US.  You can swipe your card at many stations throughout the museum to get updates on “your person,” and review it when at home at a special website, “The Dog Tag Experience.”   Myh assigned person was Charlotte Weiss, a member of a Jewish family in Teresva, Czechoslovakia.

It’s a lot of ground to cover, but the museum is well planned, with benches, washrooms and water fountains throughout if you need a break.  I’m personally not much of museum person (except for dinosaurs and science) and I spent over four hours there and could have easily extended the visit.

Eats and Such

Need a break in the middle? Have a bite to eat or an adult beverage at the “American Sector” cafe, with a complete lunch and dinner menu available.  Local and traditional American favorites are available, sandwiches and entrees, as well as appetizers, salads and a brunch menu on weekends.  Lighter fare and sweets area available at Jeri Nims Soda Shop.  BB’s Stage Door Canteen offers live music of the era on weekends (additional charge), as well as cuisine and beverages for a pre-dinner show if one is so inclined.

Off-Campus

At New Orleans Lake Ponchartrain, book a ride on fully reserved PT Boat from WWII.  Built in New Orleans by Higgins Industries, the patrol-torpedo (PT) boat PT-305 was a critical asset for the US Navy during World War II, serving in European waters from 1944 to the end of the war. The ship served many other uses after the war and was found festering in dry dock in Houston and acquired by the museum in 2007.  Tours only are offered Wed, Thur, Fri, and Sun at various times.  Rides are Saturdays only, children under 12 not permitted.  Advance purchase of tickets for rides is highly recommended.  A short video on the restoration effort is below.

Support

Besides buying admission tickets, there are lots of ways to financially support this worthy endeavor, including straight out donations, annual memberships, or sponsoring a “brick” to honor a loved one who served.  Consider a gift to the museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/visit/pt-305

 

National WWII Museum Review New Orleans

 

 

 

 

 

 

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