Frank Brunacci

Chef Frank Brunacci was slinging shark bacon and olive oil ice cream at a restaurant in New Orleans way before most of today’s molecular gastronomists broke out the lasers and liquid nitrogen. Despite his innovative approaches, he’s more of a haute comfort food purveyor than a food scientist. One thing’s for certain, his alchemy was good enough to charm the Donald, and so Brunacci has been tapped to open the flagship restaurant 16 in the new Trump hotel and Towers in the loop this December. Advertisements


Season’s Eatings

You can’t end the cycle can you? Your great grandfather took your grandfather who took your father who took you to the Walnut Room at Marshall Field’s. Doped up on Frango mints, your chin dribbled with white veloute from the flaky pot pie, as you gazed skyward at the tallest Christmas tree you’d ever seen. The restaurant chandeliers were refracting crystal kaleidoscopes for the glinting golden strings of Christmas lights.

The Dictator Has No Clothes

Not since Montecristo cigars and Che Guevara has a Cuban flavored export been more hyped (at least locally) than the Cubano sandwich at west Logan Square’s El Cubanito (2555 North Pulaski). Foodies on have racked up three pages of mostly adoring love letters to the sandwich, and The Reader, and a handful of others have also chimed in with confirming odes.

Seoul to Squeeze

“Hardcore Korean” is not an Asian punk band. Rather, it’s the style of food that Dan Choi, the fervent owner of one-month-old Korean Seoulfood Café, hopes to bring to Chicago. Choi’s restaurant is in the middle of a food desert at the edges of the Loop, and so he doesn’t get much foot traffic. The Mexican spot that previously inhabited his space disappeared quicker than state tax dollars after a Patty Blagojevich real-estate deal, and so if he sees you peeking in the window, he’ll collar you on the sidewalk and sell his food with the verve of an old Maxwell Street peddler.

Through Thick and Thin

Tupac versus Biggie, Alien versus Predator, thin crust versus deep dish: All are age-old debates that often draw ire and tears from their respective backers. We won’t even touch the first two, but the thin-thick argument is something we felt we could settle once and for all. We gathered four thin-crust and four deep-dish aficionados to debate the merits of each in a weapon-free zone (a.k.a. the TOC offices) and ordered three deep-dish pies from Lou Malnati’s (439 N Wells St, 312-828-9800) and three thin-crust pies from Pizano’s (61 E Madison St, 312-236-1777). Each defender took a slice of both kinds of pizza for comparison. This set off some early trash-talking, so we egged them on and watched the food fight ensue. THE PANEL Thin: Ruthann Gagnon, the restaurant veteran She’s worked in restaurants for 13 years and is attending culinary school in the fall. “[Eating deep dish is] like eating pizza in a Crock-Pot.” Matthew Dean, the pizza professor Dean is an active pizza poster on local online food forum LTH ( “I like the ratio of ingredients in thin crust; there’s much more honesty in what you’re eating.” Marla Seidell, the purist “I think you miss out on…

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A few of my favorite things

Dirk Fucik has fresh crabs Due to budgetary constraints I can’t buy you a car. Or even a $40 box of croissants from William Sonoma that Oprah loved so much in 2005. Hell, I can’t even tell you if her old personal chef Art Smith’s parmesan goat-cheese biscuits are any good, because scoring reservations to his new spot Table 52 is the culinary equivalent to nabbing Miley Cyrus tickets.