Tufanos Restaurant in Vernon Park – Chicago

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When I was planning our Lollapalooza trip to Chicago I knew we would have one day to run around and pretend we were tourists.

Andrew only had three things he wanted to do in Chicago.  It’s so easy travelling with boys let me tell you.

He had seen a Food Channel episode where they had highlighted a mom and pop restaurant by the name of Tufanos Restaurant in Vernon Park.  Perfect – we had an opening on Saturday night.

After walking around all day in the sun and with achy feet we grabbed the blue line on the CTA, got off at Racine and walked up the road to a moon lit tree lined street which housed the tiny but beautiful brick restaurant.

We were greeted by Joe who warmly invited us in.  The restaurant was filled with regulars and families who look like they came there on a weekly basis.  They were familiar to the servers and there was truly a homey vibe to the space.  When we told Joe we were from Toronto and that we came specifically to his restaurant because of a Food Channel episode he was dead chuffed.  He told us about how we would come to Toronto and play hockey as a kid and that he liked Canada a lot.  That warmed us up all right.

When we were seated, Rachel our server gave us a wonderful snapshot of the menu at Tufanos Restaurant and exemplified great service by giving us a lot of space but also ideas to make our meal a good one.

We were starving – yet again.  Andrew ordered Mussels w/ Angel Hair (red) $13.00 and I ordered a Veal Picante w/ Pine Nuts $19.00. Andrew had a pint and I had a cocktail.

Again we hardly spoke because the food was all about Italian food courting.  I was not a big fan of Italian food walking into Tufanos perhaps because growing up I was exposed to such bad Italian food I tried to avoid it.  But Tufanos has wooed me back.  Honestly.  I am worshipping at their church.

Andrew stated that his Mussels w/ Angel Hair were fresh and extremely decadent.  The mussels were prepared just perfectly and he sopped up the meat of the mussel into the pasta and sauce.  The remaining sauce he scooped up into the crunchy fresh bread that was placed on our table – pure sweetness.  He stated it was a perfect meal.  For Andrew – that’s huge.

I also hearted my Veal Picante w/ Pine Nuts.  I had advised Rachel that I was not keen on a very tomato or creamy based sauce.  I wanted a veal dish that was yummy, not too filling but light enough that gave me my veal fix.  When she mentioned the lightly breaded veal picante, who knew cutting into it was going to be a dream.  This is the veal that I dream of at night.  I can never have veal again after my taste buds danced with this dish.  When it hit my palate, the veal melted.  The pine nuts added a nice texture and flavour to the veal and pasta dish.  The pine nuts really surprised me.

We were full when we finished our meals but we went for the gusto and ordered some lemon gelatos.  They were gorgeous and an awesome palate cleanser.  I also brought back to the hotel some cannolli.  Which let’s face it was a no brainer.

If you are in Chicago just for one night and need a lil something something for your belly and definitely a meal to write home about – please take the trek up to Tufanos Restaurant in Vernon Park.  Homemade Italian hasn’t tasted so good.  Good thing flights are cheap to Chicago from Toronto.  😉


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