Every now and again people ask me if I miss Chicago. It’s a valid question and one that I almost have a canned answer for, though I do try and give it a bit of dynamic thought each time. I know that I miss people -- certainly and without a doubt. The geography though strangely holds little allure for me. I love the skyline and will be the first to assert that Chicago is a world class city, one of the greatest in the world. However, I was amazed how quickly the connection with the tangible city vanished. I love racing there in the winter, but I love it even more when I’m driving up John Nolan Drive and see the Capital on the edge of Lake Monona. I guess I left at the right time, or rather I’m in the right place now.
All of that having been said, man I miss certain Chicago restaurants, and the show Check Please! in particular. I would even watch the reruns, swearing at goofball guests that have really strange ways of looking at dining. But that is the whole fun of the show – the mix of people. I hadn’t anticipated missing a silly tv show, but when I think about it I really do miss a silly tv show. The reason this popped in my head today is because Palermo’s was featured on the show recently, or at least I found out about it recently. I cannot illustrate in words how great Palermo’s sauce is. All of their food is great, but the sauce is the kingpin here. It is so sweet and aside from the obvious sugar involved, the rumor was always that beer made its way in. Knowing a handful of ex employees I can attest to the fact that sauce was always made by the owner, behind a locked door, with ingredients hidden before and after the process – though on one occasion there was a small amount of spilled sugar on the floor. I know every town has a handful of Italian places with secret sauces and the requisite secret recipe story, but this is my story and I say it’s the best. I wish I could see this segment, but youtube is not solving this quandary. They visited the 95th street location, which is near my old stomping grounds, yet I have never been inside oddly enough -- I lived 2 blocks from the original location on 63rd street. I have always wondered how the 95th location became a flagship when the 63rd street location predates it by quite a bit and has always had a large dining room. Maybe its as simple as my old neighborhood getting tougher by the day and Oak Lawn not. Who knows. The sauce is the same at either place. Well, with the Tour Da Chicago looming in the near future I’ll get my fix.