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Dining news: Restaurant Week; Chipotle author series; Dive Bar
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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—Chicago Restaurant Week continues through Feb. 12. The restaurants will offer three-course lunches for $22 and three- or four-course dinners for $33 and $44. Among the 250+ restaurants participating are 312 Chicago, Big Jones, Browntrout, May St., Cafe, Oceanique, Piccolo Sogno, GT Fish & Oyster and Vermilion. Make online reservations at

—Chipotle Mexican Grill announced the second installment of its "Cultivating Thought" author series with 10 new and original essays written by influential writers, authors and thought leaders to be featured on its cups and bags. Some of the contributors are author Amy Tan ( The Joy Luck Club ), writer Augusten Burrows ( Running with Scissors ), graphic novelist/screenwriter Neil Gaiman ( The Sandman ) and actor/comedian Aziz Ansari.

—Dive Bar has opened in Boystown at 3445 N. Halsted St.—and is offering 20 percent off food items through Feb. 5. ( The mostly nautical-themed restaurant is open 5 p.m.-midnight daily, and features menu items such as oysters Rockefeller, lump crab cakes and fried chicken. ) Visit .

—The JW Marriott Chicago, 151 W. Adams St., announced the "Dine Like a President" dinner, a four-course menu inspired by past presidents' inaugural ball meals. It will take place Presidents' Day, Monday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. The one-night only special dinner is $125—exclusive of tax and gratuity—and will have items such as bay scallops, Muscovy duck pate, all-natural beef filet and Valrona chocolate Charlotte Russe. Reservations must be booked by Saturday, Feb. 14; call 312-660-8200 and ask for Steve Conklin.

—In the JW Marriott, Florentine restaurant is offering Valentine's Day dinner specials with specials such as minestra, fagato grasso ( seared foie gras, chocolate, amarena cherry, challah ), seared duck breast, whole Maine lobster and millefoglie ( pistachio cream, strawberries, passion fruit gelato ). The next morning, there will be complimentary homemade cinnamon rolls with mascarpone icing. Visit

—Table fifty-two, 52 W. Elm St., has announced a new Sunday supper menu, available 10 a.m.-5 p.m.. The down-home, upscale menu still features Chef Art Smith's famous fried chicken and waffles along with items such as breakfast pizza with with sausage gravy, bacon, cheddar cheese and fried egg; crab cake Benedict; brick-oven macaroni and cheese; and Southern-fried catfish. Visit

—Piccolo Sogno Due, 340 N. Clark St., has introduced a new menu available at the restaurant's recently enhanced bar area. Highlights of the bar menu include crostini misti ( $10; three toasted bruschetta: black truffle pesto and mushroom, salmon tartare, prosciutto with mozzarella ) and pizza Bianca ( $15; arugula, mozzarella, shaved parmesan, olive oil ), among other items. Visit .

—Lake View-based Paired Wine Co. is inviting everyone to attend the celebration of its second year in business, providing fine wines to the community on Feb. 14 ( Valentine's Day ). The day-long celebration will take place at Paired Wine Co.'s retail location at 3325 N. Halsted St. The event is free to attend, but guests and couples are asked to RSVP at for the special reception 7-10 p.m., as the first 100 people to do so will receive a gift.

—Industry Brunch will take place on Mondays at MAX's Wine Dive, 1482 N. Milwaukee Ave., starting Feb. 16. Every Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be items such as French onion croque Madame and pork chilaquiles. Visit

—The Chicago Academy for the Arts will host "A Taste for the Arts" gala at the Harris Theater and Millennium Park Terrace Tuesday, May 12, at 6 p.m. This evening, hosted by Donna LaPietra and Bill Kurtis, will feature a performance by the emerging artists of the academy alongside the cuisine chefs such as Curtis Duffy ( Grace ), Matthew Kerney ( Longman & Eagle ) and Tony Priolo ( Piccolo Sogno/Piccolo Sogno Due ). Individual gala tickets start at $350, with reserved tables starting at $5,000; visit to reserve event tickets or visit for performance-only tickets.

—Guinness world record holder Chef Alain Roby will debut his 948-pound, life-size, white-chocolate "Eros," created for a Food Network special. To honor the occasion, Roby's All Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva will host a viewing party on Sunday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. for the Food Network segment, where guests can catch a behind-the-scenes look at the making of "Eros," and take pictures with the chef and his newest chocolate sculpture.

—At Anteprima, 5316 N. Clark St., on Monday, Feb. 9, 6:30-9 p.m., Marty Fosse welcomes Paolo Saracco of Saracco wines and Chef Maurizio Albarello of Trattoria Antica Torre. The five-course dinner will include offerings such as veal with tuna and caper sauce, tajarin with slow-cooked mushrooms and Maurizio's moscato zabaione. The cost is $85, including tax and tip; email or call 773-506-9990.

—Francesca's Restaurant Group has announced the "Take Me to Tuscany" getaway, a five-day trip to the Italian countryside featuring wine-estate stays and vineyard visits to the restaurant group's Italian partners for Francesca's Restaurants and Davanti Enoteca. Guests can enter now until Saturday, Feb. 28, at the close of business at any Francesca's Restaurant Group concept ( Francesca's Restaurants, Davanti Enoteca, and Glazed and Infused ). For more information on all locations and concepts, visit .

—Filini Bar & Restaurant, 221 N. Columbus Dr., offers a creative, untraditional way to spend Valentine's Day with a special "Seven Deadly Sins" menu. Guests are invited to discover their sultry side while savoring the flavors of lust, envy, wrath, gluttony, greed, pride and sloth. Among the available items will be oysters, tuna and yellowfin crudo ( lust ); grilled shark with chili oil and blood orange ( wrath ); and macaroons with chocolate covered raspberries, passion fruit sorbet, and frozen beet foam ( sloth ). The seven-course menu is $95 per person or $125 with cocktail pairings. Reservations are required; call 312-477-0234 or visit .

—Labriola Ristorante & Café has opened at 535 N. Michigan Ave. The newest venture from Chicago baker Rich Labriola offers three distinct experiences within one space: a full-service Italian restaurant helmed by Executive Chef John Caputo ( formerly of Bin 36 and A Mano ), a bar and a bakery café. Visit

—Frontier, 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., celebrates Fat Tuesday with a Louisiana shrimp boil on Tuesday, Feb. 17, at 6 p.m. For $33 per person ( excluding tax and tip ), guests will enjoy an all-you-can-eat shrimp boil complete with potatoes and corn. Purchase tickets at

—SideDoor, 100 E. Ontario St., celebrates its first anniversary Wednesday, Feb. 18, with an exclusive #SideDoorTurnsOne menu featuring a selection of guest favorite dishes priced at $1 each. ( Dollar menu items include avocado mash, IPA beer pretzels, deviled eggs and baked mac 'n' cheese. ) Additionally, a three-ounce pour of craft beers, only those priced under $9 on the menu, is offered at $1 each, while supplies last. Visit .

—White Oak Tavern & Inn, 1200 W. Webster Ave., is hosting a dinner Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. featuring the wines, spirits and ciders of Black Star Farms, located in Suttons Bay, Michigan. The menu includes duck rilette; winter chard and roasted vegetables; housemade gnocchi with rabbit; and warm pear cake with white chocolate mousse. Dinner is $70, including dinner and drink pairings. Call 773-248-0200.

—Chefs John Manion and Mark Steuer announce the La Colombe Takeover at La Sirena Clandestina, 954 W. Fulton Market, a special brunch collaboration with the specialty coffee roaster on Sunday, Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The a la carte menu features everything from coffee and oxtail marmalade to espresso yogurt. Reservations are highly suggested, and may be made by visiting or by calling 312-226-5300.

—The 16th Chicago's Best WingFest will take place Feb. 22 at Bailey Auditorium, 1340 W. Washington St., 1-5 p.m. WingFest has tailgating, wings from 25 area restaurants, competitive wing-eating, six categories of competition and more. Funds raised will benefit Chicago Neighbors United. General admission tickets for this 21-and-over event are $40; see .

—On Feb. 11-12, Joe Fish Executive Chef Joe Farina will share the kitchen of his River North restaurant, 445 N. Dearborn St., with internationally recognized Italian chef Maurizio Albarello, owner of Antica Torre in Barbaresco, Piemonte. Farina and Albarello will work side by side on dishes featuring East and West Coast oysters, swordfish carpaccio, red snapper, and Albarello's Piemontese specialties and homemade pastas. The cost is $125 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity; call 312-832-7700.

—On Feb. 14-21, El Ideas, 2419 W. 14th St., will feature dishes with To'ak Chocolate. Among the items are duck with To-ak, limequat and five spices; and sweet potato with To'ak, coffee, cinnamon and olive oil. The price is $145, plus tax and service charge. Email with date requested, number of guests and phone number, or call 312-226-8144.

—On Saturday, Feb. 28, the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation ( IRAEF ) will welcome 13 culinary teams and eight management teams composed of high school ProStart students from across the state to compete in the 14th Annual Illinois ProStart® Invitational. The event will occur at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

—The sixth annual Taste of the Gold Coast will take place Wed., March 4, 6-8 p.m., at the Gold Coast FFC ( Fitness Formula Club ), 1030 N. Clark St. Participating restaurants include Cape Cod, mEAT, Devon Seafood Grill, Roy's Restaurant, and Glazed and Infused, among others. Admission is $60; visit .

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