If you want to spend some time ( whether family or post-work ) in a funky place with some delicious items, check out Vinny's Pizza Bar ( at the French Market, 130 N. Canal St.; www.vinnysbar.com/ ).
The year-old concept is based on "Vinny," an old-school Italian owner who aims to bring the fun while being serious about the quality of the food. For example, the decor includes portraits of celebrity lookalikes ( including impersonators of Michael Jackson and Angelina Jolie as well as presidents Trump and Obama ). Telegenic Director of Operations Nick O'Meara told Windy City Times: "The portraits are about satire. Some people don't get them, but Vinny's is about fun [as well as] being low-key and casual."
As for the food, the crush of pedestrians clustering around the restaurant as the server presented free samples provided my initial clue. Chef Jose Ramirezwho heads Vinny's as well as Ovie Bar & Grill next doorhas concoted some dishes that run from solid to spectacular.
The pizzas are unique in that the crusts are combinations of Neapolitan and New York styles. The smoked pork-shoulder pizza is basically a Cubano in pie form, and it was very satisfying. However, the version that brings everyone in is the brie-and-apple version, with white sauce, brie cheese blend, Gala apples and balsamic roasted shallots. It was amazingand I'd certainly return for this.
Soft breadsticks came with smoked tomato sauce and goat-cheese marinara, and the capicola and cheese fondue made for a tasty combination. Also, feel free to ask for the cheesecakealthough, interestingly, it started okay and became better-tasting as wel went through our slices.
By the way, another reason has emerged to check out Vinny's: the spot's Progressive Happy Hour, in which drinks are $4 each at 4-5 p.m., $5 at 5-6 p.m., and $6 at 6-7 p.m. Bottoms up!
Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.