Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fogo de Chão, Naperville, IL

It's been more than a few years since we last visited Fogo de Chão in downtown Chicago, so it was pretty exciting to get an Opening Night invite for their new location in Naperville. This is a lot closer to our home, so we're more likely to return sooner.

Fogo de Chão, Naperville, IL

Entry is through a small vestibule and straight into the bar, with the dining area a large and airy open space behind that. Our previous visits to Fogo had us surprised at how brightly lit the dining area was, but it's a good change. We'll see if it remains that way moving forward or if it was just for the one night.

Sipping caipiriñhas (Brazilian rum drinks) and enjoying appetizers, we watched as the mayor of Naperville cut a ceremonial ribbon and then it was time to eat.

Fogo de Chão, Naperville, IL

As we experienced before, there is the Market Table, a central buffet of salad, charcuterie, cheeses, and more. Even without dinner, there are plenty of options to be had here, but save room. My favorite thing about this restaurant is the servers circling the room with various meats skewered and served table-side. Flip the provided medallion to green and the servers know to come over - flip it to red to enjoy what's on your plate or when you're done. Sides include mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, cheesy rolls, and more. Save room for dessert, though, if you can, because they are decadent and enormous!

If you haven't tried Fogo de Chão before and you're in the western suburbs, visit the restaurant for a unique and tasty meal. Make sure to taste the caipiriñhas, check out the Market Table, and save room for dessert.

Fogo de Chão Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fogo de Chão

Meal provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Leer Vineyards: Helping Wounded Veterans

Occasionally samples of wine come with a story that resonates or is so compelling that the wine almost becomes secondary. Leer Vineyards is in that position, having created a collection that transcends everyday drinking. The wine in their bottles of Heroic Red and Valiant White not only pay tribute to those who serve in our Armed Forces, but help them as well. A portion of the proceeds from each bottle sold benefits the Military Warriors Support Foundation's Homes4WoundedHeroes and Homes4GoldStars programs, which award mortgage-free homes to combat wounded heroes injured while in service to our country or to spouses of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Truly something to get behind.

Leer Vineyards: Helping Wounded Veterans

Tasting Notes:
Heroic Red: 58% Syrah, 29% Merlot, and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon; violet with ruby highlights; plum, raspberry, and tar aromas; dark fruit and pomegranate flavors into an herbal finish; plenty of acid runs down a medium body; cork closure; SRP $24.
Valiant White: Moscato grapes; golden straw color; honey, almond, stone fruit and floral aromas; honeyed almond, melon, and pear with a tropical finish; on the sweet side but acid brings it to near balance; luscious mouthfeel; twist off closure; SRP $22.

Leer Vineyards Heroic Red Wine Video

Wines provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Parducci - True Grit Reserve

Deep Roots ~ Legendary Wines

For 80 some odd years, Parducci (a family-run winery) has been making wines with a reputation for value, quality, and care for our local community. The Parducci commitment to sustainable winemaking practices translates to high standards for both vineyard cultivation and winery operations, including a farm-to-table garden program, wildlife habitat preservation, and a nationally recognized water conservation and reclamation program. The True Grit collection's name comes from a comment made by a visiting winemaker, noting that their Petite Sirah was the "John Wayne of Wines." Great story.

Parducci - Deep Grit Reserve

Tasting Notes:
True Grit Reserve Red Mendocino County 2012: Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah blend; ruby red color; bright red berry, cherry soda, and plum aromas; red plum, dark cherry, and toast flavors; nicely balanced; smooth mouthfeel into a slightly tannic finish; cork closure; SRP $30. Paired with a coffee crusted steak and potatoes au gratin, fantastic.
True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino County 2013: deep dark purple with ruby edges; plum, earth and cherry aromas; dark cherry, black currant, oregano flavors with a spicy finish; super smooth mouthfeel, beautiful balance; cork closure; SRP $30. Paired with a pizza dinner, stood up wonderfully to pepperoni, Italian sausage and giardiniera.
True Grit Mendocino County Reserve Chardonnay 2013: beautiful golden yellow color; aromas of white flowers, Asian pear and lemon; subtle honeydew and muskmelon flavors lead into a nutty finish; medium, velvety body; cork closure; SRP $30.
True Grit Mendocino Reserve Petite Sirah 2013: deep opaque purple with ruby edges; dark fruit, toast and tar aromas; prune, tart red berry, earth and cassis flavors; smooth body, acid backbone, and a tannic finish make this a pleasure to drink now, but should improve with some cellar time; cork closure; SRP $30. Any bottle that comes with a tag that exhorts "Decant Me" is likely one I'm going to enjoy, and this was no exception.

Parducci Wine Cellars: The Wine Experience Video

Fantastic collection of wines that taste above their price - add in everything that goes on beyond the scenes in terms of sustainability and history, and these show their colors as palate-pleasing wines.

Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Friday, January 15, 2016

Home Run Inn Pizza, Lakeview, Chicago

Several weeks ago, we had the opportunity to visit the new Home Run Inn Pizza, located in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. Located near the Belmont Avenue CTA stop, there is also plenty of parking, so access is easy.

Home Run Inn Pizza, Lakeview, Chicago

We've been to our local Home Run Inn in Darien several times, and this new location is quite different in feeling, with a centrally located bar and exposed brick giving it a more urban feel. We really liked the decor, with fun artwork, slightly upscale furniture, and with plenty of TVs if you're there to watch the game with food. This restaurant definitely fits in to the Northside.

Menus are the same, for the most part, as at the other locations, though must-haves like the beer sampler were unavailable (they did have a good selection of local beers, so kudos for that). Again, a not very expansive by-the-glass wine list, but sufficient for this pizzeria sports bar.

Home Run Inn Pizza, Lakeview, Chicago

We started with wings (tasty, but a bit sweet and lacking heat) and a Harvest Salad, very tasty and worth ordering. I think my new favorite pizza is their The 1947 (sausage, caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms), flat out fantastic. We didn't have our kids with us, so on their behalf I tasted the HRI Mac N’ Cheese Skillet (fresh cavatelli pasta, served in a sauce of extra sharp cheddar, fontina, and parmesan, and topped with garlic bread crumbs), good but lacking in seasoning. Most kids would love it I bet. As with many restaurants, Home Run Inn has options for eaters with dietary restrictions, both vegetarian and gluten-free, so the whole gang can eat here happily.

Decidedly non-restricted are the desserts - we opted for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Bomb Cupcake (Ghirardelli chocolate cupcake with chocolate chips, topped with creamy mousse and chocolate fudge) and the Peach Cobbler (served in an individual cast iron pan, with a pie topping, raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream). Outstanding way to end the meal.


Home Run Inn Pizzerias play multiple duty, as a neighborhood joint, a sports bar, and a place to feed a big group. This location is more accessible and more rooted in its location than our earlier experience, and worth seeking out. Broad menu, good beer, a place to bring family and friends.

Home Run Inn Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Home Run Inn Pizza

Meal provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel