Sunday, October 4, 2009

Neighborhood Tours: Ravenswood Corridor

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Artwork by
Armando Pedroso
www.armandopedroso.com


This month, I took friends from What's Cookin, Chicago on a tour of Ravenswood Corridor, located on the North side of the city. Our tour fell on the same weekend as the annual Ravenswood ArtWalk, a fair of local artisans showing off their creative talents through paint, print, photography, sculpture, etc. Aside from all the artists that come to share their work, there are some culinary folks that continually do some magic in the neighborhood too.


Urban Accents
4241 N. Ravenswood Avenue

I've teamed up with Urban Accents, a Chicago based spice company for this tour. Urban Accents have extended a special invitation to What's Cookin, Chicago for a VIP tour with the President, Tom Knibbs. The tour included a discussion with Tom about the specialty food business, why he founded the company, samples of some of Urban Accents favorites and goodies to take home. I'll be sharing more of our tour with Urban Accents later this week so stay tuned for some in depth details about this awesome Chicago company...


Spacca Napoli
1769 W Sunnyside Avenue

After the Urban Accents tour, we enjoyed lunch at Spacca Napoli. I haven't had the opportunity to visit Italy yet, however some of my friends and What's Cookin, Chicago members have. From their experiences, many of them agree that the pizza served at Spacca Napoli is very much like the pizza served in Naples, Italy.


The focus of the pizzas served here is not the toppings, but rather the crust. You won't find thick, doughy deep dish pizza at this restaurant. Instead, you'll find crispy, light dough that's been baked in a wood fire oven. Toppings for these pizzas are kept very simple and natural, similar to what you'd expect if you ordered pizza in Naples. For lunch we enjoyed the following kinds:


Complimentary Mushroom Pesto Pizza

Salsiccia e Broccoletti
Pizza Bianca with Italian Sausage, Rapini, Fior Di Latte Mozzarella, Olive Oil


Marinara
Tomatoes, Oregano, Garlic, Basil, Olive Oil


Margherita
Tomatoes, Fior Di Latte Mozzarella, Basil, Olive Oil


Prosciutto e Rucola
Pizza Bianca with Provola, Prosciutto Di Parma, Arugula, Parmesan, Olive Oil



First Slice
4401 N Ravenswood Ave
After lunch, we hit up First Slice. This small cafe/bakery is run by Chef Mary Ellen Diaz, who gives back to the community by providing hot meals to patrons. First Slice is a community-supported kitchen. Volunteers and staff work together to serve a hot, high-quality three-course meal to approximately 100 men, women, and children.

The cafe was pretty crowded when we arrived, most likely due to all the folks attending the Ravenswood ArtWalk. First Slice shares a space with a mini gallery of sorts full of various types of artwork. So aside from the great pie and baked goods offered here, you'll be able to walk around and check out the different pieces of art too.


Angel Food Bakery
1636 W Montrose Ave

Next stop was Angel Food Bakery. I previously included this place in our Cupcake Crawl and since it was in the area, we stopped here again for friends to check out. Some things folks got to try included the Red Velvet Cake, Thin Mints, Rummies (Rum Balls) and a few other kinds of treats.



Margie's Candies & Ice Cream Parlor
1813 W Montrose Ave

After our stop at Angel Food Bakery, the rain started to fall. It wasn't too hard and we managed to get to our next tour stop - Margie's Candies. Here folks can indulge in homemade chocolates, classic and fun ice cream flavors and fresh pie. We were still a bit full at this point but it was great to check out their goodies.




Glen's Diner
1820 W Montrose Ave

Right across the street was our next stop - Glen's Diner. This restaurant has been featured on Food Network's 'Diners, Drive Ins & Dives' because of their amazing seafood offerings. At first glance, the name is misleading since 'Diner' doesn't really conjure up thoughts of great seafood. But owner, Glen, used to work for a well known seafood restaurant. He then opened Glen's Diner and continue to serve up the seafood he knows so much about. Another point of interest about Glen's Diner is that he also has Hoosier Mama pies on his menu. These pies are a local favorite. Because the restaurant was pretty crowded when we arrived, we decided to skip it and went to our last stop....



Sweet Honey Bee Bakery
1918 W Montrose Ave

Our last stop is Sweet Honey Bee Bakery. This is one of the cupcake stops we had on our recent cupcake crawl and they really have some good flavors out there. Some folks bought some cupcakes to take home and enjoy. After this stop, the rain finally caught up with us and we called it a day. If you happen to find yourself in the Ravenswood Corridor area, be sure to stop by these places and support the businesses!


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