Gene & Georgetti

Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Bacon


Creamed Spinach

Broiled Bone – In Rib Eye Steak

1/2 wedge salad



*** (3 stars)

A lot of Chicago steakhouses aspire to be “old school,” but Gene & Georgetti really is, having been established in 1941, and little changed since. The traditional dining room, muted ambiance and white-jacketed waiters definitely take you back.

I loved the wedge salad, which we fortunately split, as it was huge. The creamed spinach was flavored with tarragon, and was perhaps the best I’ve had. My companion’s melted cheese, bacon and tomato sandwich was huge and absurdly inexpensive, and came with a plate of fried potatoes.

In fact, everything was great except the steak. There was nothing obviously wrong with my bone-in ribeye, it just wasn’t very interesting. It lacked the usual ribeye marbling, and hence any flavor. And it wasn’t particularly tender, either. It was, however, perfectly cooked.

Gene & Georgetti has some of the lowest prices of any steakhouse in Chicago, and lunch and brunch are even better deals. I will definitely return. I probably won’t have steak.

Gene & Georgetti
500 N Franklin St
Chicago, IL
(312) 527-3718

Gino’s East – Magnificent Mile



Chicken thin crust

Meaty legend deep dish

**** (4 stars)

Gino’s has a great ambiance, mostly because of the graffiti. It’s everywhere. Well, not EVERYWHERE. The inside joke is that every surface at Gino’s is covered in graffiti except the restroom,s which are spotless.

Oh, and they have pizza. Deep dish pizza. So deep that I can even print the word for how deep it is. But it is as deep as that. It’s also pretty good. I admit I’m not a huge deep dish fan, but the crust here has cornmeal, which helps, and there is lots of good tasting filling. Be aware that it takes a good 45 minutes to cook your pizza.

Their thin crust pizza doesn’t take quite that long. The crust isn’t actually all that thin, though, just thinner.

The place is large and busy, so service isn’t super attentive, but it’s adequate. If you’ve always wanted to try deep dish pizza, I’d say this is your best bet.

Gino’s East – Magnificent Mile
162 E Superior St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 266-3337

Gibsons Italia




Chef’s Crudo Selection

Lettuce and herb salad with Meyer Lemon vinaigrette (off menu item)

New York Strip Bone-In

Grilled Romanesco

Grilled asparagus


Good view, rain or shine

***** (5 stars)

The original Gibson’s is a good restaurant, but this one is a great restaurant. Every element of my meal was about as close to perfection as I can expect from a steakhouse. Of the dozens of steakhouses I’ve tried in Chicago, it was clearly the best.

Of course, there is the view, perhaps the best in the city, looking out at the junction of the Chicago River. And the room itself is also gorgeous. It’s on the third floor, with a bar on the floor below.

The service was also impressive. Not only were the waiters professional and friendly, but they were genuine hosts, with several of them stopping by to chat.

The menu includes the full range of Gibson’s branded prime steaks, and they are just as good as you would expect. But it’s the other dishes that impressed me most. The chef’s selection crudo was a wonderful starter: three sashimi preparations of tuna, kanpachi and fluke, with amazing and surprising accompaniments.

An off-menu salad of lettuce and herbs dressed in Meyer Lime vinaigrette was a perfect break before tackling the steak. For sides I couldn’t decide between the grilled romanesco and grilled asparagus, finally ordering the asparagus. To my surprise, my waiter also brought the romanesco so I could try it. Both were excellent.

I finished off with the affogato, which was served deconstructed, so you could add your own coffee to the ice cream. The coffee was laced with Averna, which imparted a delightful bitterness to offset the sweet ice cream. The homemade cookies that came with it were also amazing.

The wine list is also top notch. There’s a great variety, and some reasonable prices. The Morey Saint Denis I had was a gem.

I can’t ask for much more than the meal I had at Gibson’s, and it’s perhaps the first Chicago steakhouse I’ve been to that will keep drawing me back rather than always trying new ones. Highly recommended.

Gibsons Italia
233 N Canal St
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 414-1100

Rao’s – Los Angeles



Seafood salad

Penne alla Vodka


Lemon Chicken

Amazing cheesecake!

***** (5 stars)

Rao’s is tucked away on an unlikely side street in residential Hollywood. It has that magical and now rare ambiance of the red leather booth restaurants of the 1950s.

You’d be hard-pressed to find better Italian food in LA. The meatballs and the seafood salad were great starters, and the Penne alla Vodka was also very good.

But the standout was the Fiocchi, made of Beggar Purse Ravioli, with Ricotta and Bartlett Pear Filling, sauteed in Brown Butter, and dressed with Sage and Dried Cranberries. It was, simply put, the best pasta dish I’ve ever had.

Another number one ranking goes to the cheesecake, served New York style, but with an airy character, elevated by a hint of Amaretto. Amazing.

Our server, Jonathan, was a terrific host, and basically assembled this wonderful menu for us. A great new LA find!

Rao’s – Los Angeles
1006 Seward St
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 962-7267

La Scala


Lobster ravioli

La Scala chopped tuna salad

Halloween decor!

**** (4 stars)

If you like old school Italian, there’s no better example than La Scala. Since 1956 they’ve been doing it the same way. That’s both good and bad, because it means you’ll reliably get the same meal you would have had decades ago, but your expectations might have changed.

For example, the chopped tuna salad is chopped up lettuce, chickpeas and essentially canned tuna. That’s what all tuna salads were like in the 60’s, but might not be what you are expecting now.

La Scala was the first restaurant in LA to make their own pasta, and it’s still excellent, in all its forms. I particularly liked the lobster ravioli in brown butter.

There’s a nice little wine list, with some good wines by the glass and half bottle, a rarity these days.

Also note that they go all out in their holiday decorating. A visit in October is a particular treat, as the Halloween decorations are fun and EXTENSIVE.

La Scala
434 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 275-0579

Via Alloro

Tira misu

Ravioli with burrata



Neapolitan pizza


**** (4 stars)

This is a good neighborhood restaurant with a nice outdoor seating area. The pastas are light and fresh, and the sauces flavorful. Caesar salad was a good starter, and the dressing had a nice anchovy flavor. The pizzas have a nice thin, crispy crust. Tira misu was one of the fluffiest I’ve encountered.

The wine list is fairly extensive, with a lot of good selections at average prices. Service was good.

Via Alloro
301 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 275-2900

George’s Gourmet Pizzeria

Mediterranean pizza (veggie)

Pepperoni and basil

Caesar salad


*** (3 stars)

George’s pizza serves a lot more than pizza, including pasta and other Italian standards. In fact the best item we had was the chicken Caesar salad, although I say that with qualifications. The chicken was actually quite tough, and the salad would have been better without it. But the bacon-like meat was good, the dressing was excellent, and the lettuce was nice and crisp.

I’m a fan of many styles of pizza, from thin crust to deep dish, New York style to Chicago style. George’s pizza isn’t really any of those. The crust is thicker than thin, and is a bit too tough and chewy. The result varies depending upon the pizza you order. In the case of pepperoni, it seemed like it was a frozen pizza, and was really not very good. But on the generously topped Mediterranean pizza (a veggie option) it worked fine, because the whole thing seemed more like a vegetable tart than a pizza.

It’s a quick serve concept where you order at a counter and they deliver to your table, but even so the water and menu service was friendly and attentive.

George’s Gourmet Pizzeria
15/1 Circa Boulevarde
Baulkham Hills, New South Wales 2153
+61 2 9836 2711