Try This: Union Pizzeria

I’m a sucker for dinner out, no doubt – anyone who brings me a meal I do not need to cook, on a real plate, and does not ask me to wash a dish after said meal, is fine with me. So sure, I guess my standards aren’t too high.

But Union Pizzeria met them all with flying colors. This Evanston restaurant was written up in the May 2008 issue of Chicago Magazine, and the pizza description alone was enough to get my attention. I left the review on the refrigerator for a about a month – a hint to my Roommate that I’d like to go there – but when he failed to get my hint I got more forceful Saturday afternoon (it helped my cause considerably that he had just woken me up from my nap and had exercised less than desirable sleeping habits the night before and was feeling REALLY guilty).

So, we went. The menu is small and slightly vague, so at our waitress’s recommendation we ordered one pizza to share and two small plates to go with it: Pizza Margherita with fresh mozzarella; homemade sausage and peppers, served with the freshest pesto sauce ever; and marinated Italian olives.

The pizza was light and crisp with tomatoes that tasted like they had been picked that very afternoon from a sunny garden. The sausage was good, too, in a sausage way – totally different from the light pizza way. But the olives were a draw: the olives themselves were good, the fennel was god, but the orange zest marinated was a mismatch, I thought. I give them point for an intriguing menu option with a reasonable price tag (for $3, it was an acceptable error) but I didn’t love it. My roommate thought they were good, but the cereal bowl was a few too many olives for one man to eat alone.

“I guess we should have tried the beets,” he said on the way out. Golden roasted beets were the Option B we passed on, and in hindsight should have been Option A. But that misjudgment (as well as the prosciutto pizza) just gives us a reason to go back. And we will go back (I’m talkin’ to you, Roommate!).

Dessert was equally decadent, so ask what they’re serving and save room if it sounds good. I had a polenta pound cake, warm from the pizza oven, with fresh peach compote and whipped cream. Heavenly.

Union Pizzeria, 1245 Chicago Ave, Evanston.

Recipe Review: Nutella Ice Cream

This may be the easiest, most heavenly recipe I have ever found online:

  1. Equal parts Nutella and evaporated milk (I used Fat free, but to relieve a fraction of guilt), plus 1 T. skim milk.
  2. In an ice cream machine.
  3. Freeze before serving.

The ice cream comes out with somewhat of a grainy quality, but it didn’t bother me or the other eater in my household enough to put the stuff down for even a second (he actually licked the bowl while he was supposedly washing the dishes, but that’s a different blog). It tastes like the richest chocolate ice cream you’ve ever had, but without making you want to push back from the table or save the rest for later. That could be the fat free milk talking.

Just one note on the simplicity of the ordeal: I mixed the Nutella and milk together in a medium size bowl before putting them in the ice cream machine, which was good. Next time maybe I’ll use a larger bowl to save my t-shirt from the sloshing of the milk and the chocolate spread. Also, I chilled the smooth batter before dumping it into the machine because both of my ingredients were stored at room temperature. It worked well, but created more dishes for said roommate to lick.

burger + fries = fat + happy

Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting my husband for lunch at fRedhots and Fries, a favorite burger shack in the neighborhood where I indulged in a fresh, juicy burger and a large order of fresh Belgian fries, coated in Fred’s special green onion and sage aioli. YUM. Tables were at a premium, and Fred did his best to negotiate table sharing and taking turns among hungry adults – no easy task. The best thing I heard while I savored my meal was some guy in line who said, “I’ll come back later so I can really enjoy my Italian beef experience.”
Anyway, after that heavy meal I was only mildly hungry for dinner. Thanks again to my friends at Everyday Food, I decided to roast a fresh pineapple with brown sugar, rum and a few spices. I opted to top it vanilla ice cream rather than the raspberry sorbet they recommended, and I was glad I did.
The actual roasting took more than an hour – more than I had anticipated – and the pineapple was still not as tender as I would have liked. Maybe my fruit was too underripe, or maybe my oven is running low (a constant thought I have when something I try to bake takes longer than the book says it should). But the results were spectacular. The juice alone was enough to make me fat and happy. And now I’m on a fruit cooking kick. I’ve got a recipe for pears roasted in red wine… or maybe just roasted grapes….
(Before I forget, the clean-up was easy, too. I used an old, regular old 9” square metal brownie pan nuthin’ fancy, and found nothing to scrape off the bottom of the pan on a Saturday night. It doesn’t get much better than that.)