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SAVOR L'Aventino Forno Romano; Grand Trunk Road's brunch
DISH Dining Guide
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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L'Aventino Forno Romano ( 355 E. Ohio St.; ) is at least the fourth pizzeria in the past few years to be at that address.

I remember Robert's Pizza Co. ( now Robert's Pizza and Dough Company, and in the River East Arts Center ) and Streeterville Pizzeria & Tap. Here's hoping this one stays.

Chef Adam Weisell—who grew up in Rome—offers pinsa, promoted as "a next-generation Roman-style pizza that has a uniquely textured crust and an intriguing flavor." Pinsa ( thanks to the use of three types of flour ) has an airy texture as well as a crispy exterior, and has a lower gluten content than traditional pizza.

The casual spot certainly harbors elements of Rome—at least with the food. The soul music playing through the speakers was a little jarring at first but, of course, I grew to like it.

As for the large oval pinsas, there are many items offered ( encompassing red and white varieties ), including the delicious salsiccia ( with tomato sauce, fior di latte, basil, pork sausage, and Parmigiano ) and Re di Roma ( fior di latte, guanciale, egg yolk, pecorino Romano and black pepper ). However, there are other items, such as antipasti ( such as cavoletti cacio e pepe—shaved Brussels sprouts with pecorino Romano and black pepper ) and intriguing salads ( e.g., Barbabietole e Arancie, with roasted red beets, oranges, pistachios, Cerignola olives and goat cheese ).

And please don't pass by the desserts. Just try to resist the Torta di Ricotta e Cioccolato, which features a crispy pastry shell baked with ricotta and dark chocolate, with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

By the way, New Year's Eve reservations are available. Visiting L'Aventino would be a fun way to start the new decade—or end the old one.

Grand Trunk Road

I reviewed my share of Indian restaurants in 2019—including ROOH ( which definitely, as a new place, had some kinks to work out ) and Mango Pickle ( a delightful spot in the city's Edgewater neighborhood ).

Beautiful, airy Lincoln Park restaurant Grand Trunk Road ( 1417 W. Fullerton Ave.; )—named after a major thoroughfare that winds through India, Afghanistan and Pakistan—definitely has quality on its side. However, there seems to be a slight problem with quantity—as in having enough supplies to feed crowds; this seems to be a weird problem for a restaurant that's been around for a year.

Maybe the problem was that it was brunch—and that my friend and I were the only patrons in the spot the entire time we were there. But when I was told there was no blueberry lassi ( with mango being the only other one available ) on a recent Sunday morning, my face fell. However, the mango lassi was pretty tasty, I'll admit.

And it wasn't the only delicious item, with the presentation of some items just as stunning as the taste. The plating for the aloo tiki Benedict ( with turmeric hollandaise, pickled onions, micro watercress and Alaskan king crab ) was so incredible I hesitated to try it—but was exceedingly glad I did. Keema ghotala ( minced beef with sunny-side-up eggs and naan ) was just as good, and the the lamb in the peshwari chapli burger was tender and delicious. Also, be sure to try the Chicken '65' Waffle ( a dish named after its number on the original menu )—a take on the popular chicken and waffles, complete with chili-garlic marinade and housemade vanilla cinnamon syrup.

We were also allowed to try a dinner item: malai murgh—chicken breast accompanied by housemade masala, mozzarella and creme fraiche. I would return just to eat this dish again: It's that good. And, yes, the presentation was wonderfully artistic.

Dessert was also a treat ( although—guess what?—the mango silk cheesecake was unavailable ). However, the meethi puri practically made up for the cheesecake's absence, with bursts of lemon curd inside bite-size pastry shells. There was also wonderful bread pudding, decorated with edible silver leaf.

So I definitely recommend Grand Trunk Road, but with a caveat: You may want to call ahead to see if the online menu items are available. However, even if a few aren't, you're bound to have a great time.

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