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Gaetano's in Forest Park - Chef Benedetto is back

Gaetano's in Forest Park - Chef Benedetto is back
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  • Post #31 - April 11th, 2009, 5:58 pm
    Post #31 - April 11th, 2009, 5:58 pm Post #31 - April 11th, 2009, 5:58 pm
    Santander wrote:Sorry that Kenny and I lacked either the cuteness or pastry clout of N&N to push you over the edge sooner!

    Santander,

    Few have the "cuteness" of Natalie, I wouldn't take it too hard. :)

    Ronnie, meal looks and sounds fantastic, you have pushed me over the edge to try Gaetano's. Does that mean I think you are as cute as Natalie? :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #32 - April 11th, 2009, 6:32 pm
    Post #32 - April 11th, 2009, 6:32 pm Post #32 - April 11th, 2009, 6:32 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    Ronnie, meal looks and sounds fantastic, you have pushed me over the edge to try Gaetano's. Does that mean I think you are as cute as Natalie? :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary



    At least as cute as her Baba. (the fantastic limoncello version of which I had last night)
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #33 - April 11th, 2009, 7:05 pm
    Post #33 - April 11th, 2009, 7:05 pm Post #33 - April 11th, 2009, 7:05 pm
    Cuteness of all a given, I've been meaning to plan an LTH dinner at Gaetano's for months now. Ronnie's post has given me the kick to do it. Check the events board soon.
  • Post #34 - April 11th, 2009, 7:53 pm
    Post #34 - April 11th, 2009, 7:53 pm Post #34 - April 11th, 2009, 7:53 pm
    For those with renewed interest, let me plug lunch, and early seatings on weekends, for calmest service and maximum elbow room both in the main seating area and at the counter. There is something (marvelous) to be said for sneaking in for two at the kitchen passthrough at full showtime on a Friday or a Saturday with Gaetano in the flow, but if you're hoping for a little more time and space, try early. Two parties I've sent there didn't quite "get" it, most likely due to the weekend rush.
  • Post #35 - April 11th, 2009, 8:27 pm
    Post #35 - April 11th, 2009, 8:27 pm Post #35 - April 11th, 2009, 8:27 pm
    They don't do lunch anymore, unfortunately :(
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #36 - April 13th, 2009, 8:09 am
    Post #36 - April 13th, 2009, 8:09 am Post #36 - April 13th, 2009, 8:09 am
    Man, did we love La Piazza, especially once it expanded and it was easier to get reservations. The food is equally great at the new spot, but my wife and I sometimes find it a tad too loud for our tastes (and we're young'uns!). So it's only an occasional eat for us, but without question Benedetto serves some of my favorite food in the city.

    (As a side note, any other OP/RF/FP locals notices how Madison keeps expanding west into Forest Park, but bar a couple of exceptions, it's a veritable food wasteland once you hit Harlem and head east into Oak Park? Tragic.)
  • Post #37 - April 23rd, 2009, 9:16 am
    Post #37 - April 23rd, 2009, 9:16 am Post #37 - April 23rd, 2009, 9:16 am
    I totally forgot about this place. Those pictures were gorgeous and I made reservations for this saturday at the Chef's Bar. The first time I had his food, he was working at a restaurant off of Michigan Ave but I can't remember the name. I do remember that he made a lobster risotto with strawberries and I've never had any risotto as good as that since. I'm really looking forward to this meal.
  • Post #38 - April 23rd, 2009, 9:30 am
    Post #38 - April 23rd, 2009, 9:30 am Post #38 - April 23rd, 2009, 9:30 am
    Vitesse98 wrote:(As a side note, any other OP/RF/FP locals notices how Madison keeps expanding west into Forest Park, but bar a couple of exceptions, it's a veritable food wasteland once you hit Harlem and head east into Oak Park? Tragic.)


    My guess is that taxes might be a contributing factor.
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #39 - April 26th, 2009, 7:19 am
    Post #39 - April 26th, 2009, 7:19 am Post #39 - April 26th, 2009, 7:19 am
    We went last night and sat at the Chef's bar. Absolutely perfect evening. We had the smaller version of the chef's tasting and the wine pairing so we had many of the same things already pictured here. One thing different though was a foie gras creme brulee with berries. If that wasn't the best, most complex dish I have ever tasted, I can't think what surpasses it. Sit at the bar if you can. It's a great experience. It's a drive from Naperville but we'll be back.
  • Post #40 - April 27th, 2009, 9:34 pm
    Post #40 - April 27th, 2009, 9:34 pm Post #40 - April 27th, 2009, 9:34 pm
    I had another lovely birthday meal (third year in a row, at two different restaurants) from Gaetano's kitchen tonight, although the master himself was away. The Gae-tapas small plates were exquisite as usual, the only downside with the late-Spring menu being the promise of the ingredients he'll be using in another few months; my favorite meals at La Piazza were always summertime and early fall. Our lineup for the evening was:

    - poached pear salad with warmed gorgonzola*
    - chocolate-brushed woodfired scallops with wild mushrooms
    - cannoli of chicken salad with tuna and chili*
    - pancetta-wrapped dates stuffed with spicy sausage and smoked chili powder
    - fried zucchini blossoms*
    - calamari with asparagus, white beans, and wasabi*
    - crab cakes in spicy tomato sauce*
    - rotolo di melanzane (we requested this one, a favorite)
    - tortolloni in brown butter and sage
    - quartet of coconut and strawberry sorbet, pumpkin cheesecake, and panna cotta

    *pictured by Ronnie one page back

    The only repeats from other visits in all seasons were the zucchini blossoms and eggplant. The cannoli is a strikingly similar to, and perhaps descended from, the signature dish at La Perla, Emilio Gervilla's erstwhile banquet space, though similar versions in a soft pasta shell appear at his other restaurants. The rotolo di melanzane belies its average looks with only the thinnest layer of eggplant, under which barely-wilted spinach, basil, and chili oil are married among silky sauce and cheese. It is rich but much less dense and filling than it looks at first glance. The pancetta-wrapped dates were as decadent and satisfying a take as Avec's or Emilio's, though the chili powder was over-assertive, and simple toasted cumin would have sufficiently made the point.

    The standouts tonight were the scallops (light-years better than a similar attempt at Macarena Tapas in Naperville), with just a gold-leaf-like layer of bitter chocolate bringing out the earthiness of the mushrooms and sealing the moisture in the scallops, and the smack-your-mama perfect tortolloni, dentissimo, with a handful of crispy deep-fried sage and a jigger of barely browned liquid butter.

    Gaetano loves dairy, and one of these times I'm going to challenge him to do a whole tasting for us focused on raws and acids rather than creams and cheeses, something I know from experience he can do just as well for a meal's foundation, as what he does with citrus, vinegar, saba, and simple oils cut through everything else like a blade. The contrast is necessary to a degree for his culinary antiperistasis, but I look forward to the natural balance shift as the year and produce cycle on, and perhaps a nudge on one of our visits. His staff rises to all requests, so don't hesitate if you're thinking of visiting soon. For those debating between the Gae-tapas and the full chef's choice, you can expect at least one pasta on either, which will satisfy most on the smaller menu, but you do need the big menu to get your hunk o'protein. We've also done Gae-tapas plus one entree to split. No matter how you go, I think this place is a remarkable value and a "secret" most worthy of LTH.
  • Post #41 - April 27th, 2009, 11:25 pm
    Post #41 - April 27th, 2009, 11:25 pm Post #41 - April 27th, 2009, 11:25 pm
    Santander wrote:Gaetano loves dairy, and one of these times I'm going to challenge him to do a whole tasting for us focused on raws and acids rather than creams and cheeses, something I know from experience he can do just as well for a meal's foundation, as what he does with citrus, vinegar, saba, and simple oils cut through everything else like a blade. The contrast is necessary to a degree for his culinary antiperistasis, but I look forward to the natural balance shift as the year and produce cycle on, and perhaps a nudge on one of our visits.


    While I fully understand that your comments are based on experience, I must take exception with your assertion that the contrast is necessary for Gaetano's culinary antiperistasis to any degree whatsoever!
    dreams are nothing more than wishes and a wish is just a dream you wish to come true
    Harry Nilsson
  • Post #42 - May 8th, 2009, 8:03 am
    Post #42 - May 8th, 2009, 8:03 am Post #42 - May 8th, 2009, 8:03 am
    I headed here again tonight with my daughter and son-in-law. Can anyone tell me if there is a place to have a drink in the neighborhood? They are coming in early.
  • Post #43 - May 8th, 2009, 8:11 am
    Post #43 - May 8th, 2009, 8:11 am Post #43 - May 8th, 2009, 8:11 am
    Jean Blanchard wrote:I headed here again tonight with my daughter and son-in-law. Can anyone tell me if there is a place to have a drink in the neighborhood? They are coming in early.


    The largest collection of bars anywhere in that area of the suburbs, I believe, can be found along Madison to the east between Harlem and Des Plaines. I haven't been to most of them in ages though, so no personal recommendations.
  • Post #44 - May 8th, 2009, 8:16 am
    Post #44 - May 8th, 2009, 8:16 am Post #44 - May 8th, 2009, 8:16 am
    Jean Blanchard wrote:I headed here again tonight with my daughter and son-in-law. Can anyone tell me if there is a place to have a drink in the neighborhood? They are coming in early.

    Madison Avenue in Forest Park has a wealth of options to have a drink, especially if you like Irish bars. For something a little more upscale, you could sit at the bar at Caffe DeLuca or Francesca's Fiore.

    Caffe DeLuca
    7427 West Madison St.
    Forest Park, IL 60130

    Franscesca's Fiore
    7427 West Madison St.
    Forest Park, IL 60130
    -Mary
  • Post #45 - May 8th, 2009, 9:26 am
    Post #45 - May 8th, 2009, 9:26 am Post #45 - May 8th, 2009, 9:26 am
    Molly Malone's is a nice little pub no more than a block west of Gaetano's and is on the same side of the street.
  • Post #46 - May 8th, 2009, 9:35 am
    Post #46 - May 8th, 2009, 9:35 am Post #46 - May 8th, 2009, 9:35 am
    The least obnoxious are Molly Malone's and Shanahan's. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Doc Ryan's (stay away). Horan's and Healy's are in the middle.
  • Post #47 - May 8th, 2009, 9:57 am
    Post #47 - May 8th, 2009, 9:57 am Post #47 - May 8th, 2009, 9:57 am
    thanks for all of the suggestions!
  • Post #48 - October 4th, 2009, 10:06 am
    Post #48 - October 4th, 2009, 10:06 am Post #48 - October 4th, 2009, 10:06 am
    My experience at Gaetano's was just this side of decent. I will say that the chef wasn't in the house (in Italy) as we were warned by the waiter not to order his personal tasting menu ("ask him to cook for us"). We opted for the ill flavor balanced-gummy starch laden-next tier down 4 courses @ $65.

    It got off rather nicely with a starter of shaved pear and cucumber dressed lightly w/a tomato gastrique. I'd have added fennel to the mix, but it was very good opener that would bookend a less than distinguished multi plate degustation that was avg at best. Room temp sauces were repeated (drago sauce x3) as were plate garnishes (paprika dusted plates) as were vegs w/the main proteins (pureed spinach). An overly sweet hand in the kitchen was apparent and made a tomato-coconut sauce for the bacon wrapped chorizo stuffed dates ala Avec taste more like dessert than an app. A creamy Amaretto sauce later defiled some escolar, a fish I would never order on purpose. My fault. When ordering the tasting menu, we had the oppty to tell them if we had any allergies or aversions and I neglected to mention it. Escolar can be a dangerous fish to eat in quantity and would warn against it no matter how much you may like "white tuna" which it's not. I suspect that the liquor in the sauce was raw and not burned off, as if poured into heavy cream after it reduced. At least it tasted that way to me. Very sweet, almost in a creme anglaise kind of way. Zucchini blossoms that were stuffed with an over powering goat cheese and tempura battered tasted of nothing but cheese, an exact opposite to a transcendent rendition I recently had at Riccardo Trattoria where the zucchini flavor rang through because a milder cheese was used in the preparation (buffalo mozz w/flecks of rendered pancetta) recently. The jury is still out on the duck risotto with wild mushrooms (yes they were) with blueberries. Had the duck not been cooked medium, it would have been one of the better dishes. It took until one of the last bites to taste anything that even approached excellent. A spoonful of lemon panna cotta w/olive oil and sea salt. Very well done.

    The staff was knowledgeable and the service good. We sat at the bar to watch the kitchen action which we enjoyed. In all fairness some of the plates coming out looked rather nice, but they were not for us and our tasting. Maybe the kitchen is capable of producing more food of that quality but for me at least, for $85 out the door and a 20 min ride, I wouldn't return to try.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #49 - October 4th, 2009, 1:52 pm
    Post #49 - October 4th, 2009, 1:52 pm Post #49 - October 4th, 2009, 1:52 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:. . . the chef wasn't in the house (in Italy)

    This is where I would have likely turned around and gone somewhere else. More so than at most places, I don't think there's a whole lot of reason to eat here if chef's not around. It's the nature of the place, and the fact that his name is on the door is no small detail. Of course, the "B" team should be able to do a decent job but without Gaetano in house, even if the food were stellar, a huge amount of the experience would be missing. I guess that closing while he's away is not an option. It's really too bad they didn't let you know he'd be gone when you made the reservation, especially since it was your first visit.

    Sorry to hear about the less-than-enjoyable meal. :(

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #50 - October 5th, 2009, 8:39 am
    Post #50 - October 5th, 2009, 8:39 am Post #50 - October 5th, 2009, 8:39 am
    Upthread, Hellodali suggests a possible LTH outing to Gaetano's. Maybe we should plan that so that Chef Gaetano can redeem himself? I know my experiences have always been great in the past.
  • Post #51 - December 3rd, 2009, 3:11 pm
    Post #51 - December 3rd, 2009, 3:11 pm Post #51 - December 3rd, 2009, 3:11 pm
    Heading here tonight based on the accolades from this forum. Does anyone know if it's possible to get the chef's choice for just one person at the table? I'm not sure my dining companions are as interested in it as me.
  • Post #52 - September 18th, 2010, 11:49 am
    Post #52 - September 18th, 2010, 11:49 am Post #52 - September 18th, 2010, 11:49 am
    My wife and I went to Gaetano's last night with mixed results. For apps, we had the fried zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese over drago sauce and figs with prosciutto, watercress and a truffle mayo/sauce for dipping. The zucchini flowers were very good, although the very crunchy batter kind of overwhelmed the dish. The fig dish was excellent, as long as you just touched the fig/watercress/prosciutto with a bit of the truffle sauce so as not to overwhelm it.

    For entrees we had a rare tuna "wellington" with with a truffle "sauce" (think more of the consistency of soft butter) with sauteed spinach and half of an egg filled with a butternut squash flan, and the above mentioned duck breast risotto with blueberries and wild mushrooms.

    The tuna dish was just an amalgam of flavors that didn't differentiate from one another and just a soft creamy flavor all of the way around, which wasn't necessarily a good thing.

    The risotto dish operated in a similar fashion, was extremely salty, and the duck breast was cooked more of a medium well than medium rare. I hate to say it, but the ricsotto flavor wasn't that much different from rice-a-roni, although the texture was that of risotto.

    FYI, Gaetano was there last night. I do have to say that the service was excellent. But I do have to note one thing that was clearly obvious, and that was an odor that was extremely similar to that of an herb that is typically not used in cooking but is generally smoked for effect. I noticed it a couple of times when servers walked by or when I walked back to the bathroom passed and passed by a particular server.
  • Post #53 - September 19th, 2010, 1:38 pm
    Post #53 - September 19th, 2010, 1:38 pm Post #53 - September 19th, 2010, 1:38 pm
    I was also at Gaetano's last night. For appetizers, we ordered the stuffed dates and Gaetano's version of an Italian Beef sandwich. The dates (4) were stuffed with a beef, pork and chorizo mix and topped with a drago sauce. The Italian Beef sandwich was a wood-fire oven baked crust topped with an Italian cheese mix and paper thin flank steak with an au jus. Both appetizers were excellent. For insalate, we deferred to our default choice-red and yellow beet carpaccio. The beets were oven roasted, sliced carpaccio style and served with a champagne vinaigrette, baby watercress and breaded\fried goat cheese. For entrees we ordered the Tuna Wellington and the Brazilian lobster tail and sauteed scallops. The Wellington was an ahi grade tuna, a mix of porcini and morel mushrooms wrapped in a "pasta wrap" which was then flash fried just enough to crisp the pasta skin. The Wellington was sliced (8) and served with crystalized garlic chips, along with an aioli and several infused oils. The dish was also accompanied by a squash flan served in an egg shell and a sauteed spinach. I thought the dish was fabulous. The lobster and scallops were grilled and served with a capellini pasta and light cream sauce. The lobster tail and scallops were cooked perfectly.

    We ordered a bottle of Villa Arvedi Amarone (Veneto) which was full-bodied and packed a punch. For dessert, we sampled the panna cotta which is served on a tablespoon along with a candied lemon slice and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. We finished the night off with a shot of house-made limoncello.

    On a side note, I too noticed a rather pungent and not entirely pleasant odor a few times near the end of our meal and looked around to seek the source. I was seated near the back of the house with a partial view into the kitchen and observed one of the sous chefs flaming fresh rosemary. Not being a fan of rosemary nor its' fragrant offerings, I was glad that the blasts were few and far between and seemed to dissipate rather quickly.

    It was nice to see Gaetano back in action as he was out almost the entire month of August with some kidney stone problems. Welcome back Gaetano!
  • Post #54 - December 10th, 2010, 2:34 pm
    Post #54 - December 10th, 2010, 2:34 pm Post #54 - December 10th, 2010, 2:34 pm
    FYI, Gaetano's has an occasional Monday night early dining special once again in effect this coming 12/13: built-in babysitting. For a nominal fee ($13? dunno for sure), they take the kids in the back, help them make/bake pizzas and then entertain them/set them in front of a movie. Plus, they told me this Sunday will feature an appearance from Santa. Parents, meanwhile, get to enjoy dinner. It's offered between 5 and 7:30pm, I think, and makes me and my wife very happy, since our trips here have been fewer and more far between since having kids.
  • Post #55 - December 10th, 2010, 7:51 pm
    Post #55 - December 10th, 2010, 7:51 pm Post #55 - December 10th, 2010, 7:51 pm
    Vitesse98 wrote:FYI, Gaetano's has an occasional Monday night early dining special once again in effect this coming 12/13: built-in babysitting. For a nominal fee ($13? dunno for sure), they take the kids in the back, help them make/bake pizzas and then entertain them/set them in front of a movie..


    Smart.

    As some places (French Laundry and Little Bucharest, to take two extremes) are now offering to drive you to and from their places (way worth it for them, if you buy a few more bottles, and you might), taking care of your kids (and a few others) for a few hours is, I'm sure, very attractive to young parents (you have alone time, plus the kids are with you, kind of).
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #56 - December 12th, 2010, 10:56 am
    Post #56 - December 12th, 2010, 10:56 am Post #56 - December 12th, 2010, 10:56 am
    Went to Geatano's last night. He has a new concept restaurant in the back called Mediterrano. It is based on more traditional Sicilian cuisine. Lots of fresh fish and olive oil. It was the second time I went there, I have been to Geatano's at least 50 times. The new concept is great. Went with a group of 6 foodies. Four of the party had never been there before and now it's one of their favorite restaurants. They have menus but as usual with Geatano's I just ask the waiter to dazzle me. We were dazzled. A month ago I was lucky to eat at both L20 and Alinea in the same week. They are amazing restaurants. Geatano's still remains my favorite restaurant in Chicagoland, and last night just confirmed it. Also, want to give a shout out to Dave our waiter. He is just great.
  • Post #57 - December 14th, 2010, 11:22 am
    Post #57 - December 14th, 2010, 11:22 am Post #57 - December 14th, 2010, 11:22 am
    Speaking with Gaetano last night, Mediterrano sounds great. I guess it's been going about a month, space seats 30 or so, and indeed focuses on a healthy Mediterranean diet - fresh fish, few carbs, etc. He said each table gets one loaf of bread to share, and any extra costs more, to discourage chowing down on too much (he noted slyly that cigarettes are his vice, and like him you have to pay for your vices). I think there may be some raw impulse options on display, too, that he will then cook up for you to order. Anyway, whatever the exact details, it sounded delicious, and he definitely seemed enthused at its place as an alternative/companion to his regular menu.
  • Post #58 - December 15th, 2010, 2:47 pm
    Post #58 - December 15th, 2010, 2:47 pm Post #58 - December 15th, 2010, 2:47 pm
    We went to Mediterraneo last night, and it was fantastic. Run, don't walk, to Gaetano's restaurant: there is serious talent there. I had never been to his regular restaurant or the old La Piazza, so this was my first time tasting Gaetano's cooking, and we were blown away. There's an excellent antipasti that you can start with, and ours included a large, delectable roasted shallot atop a goat cheese and eggplant "cream." Fantastic. But then again, so were all the items on the antipasti plate. We had the "sarde" pasta, which was a homemade pasta in a sort of ragout of anchovies and sardines, with some pine nuts thrown in and tossed with breadcrumbs or what they call "poor man's cheese." There's an interesting little contraption of an old-fashioned pasta maker of sorts in the dining room, and it spits out the pasta when cranked by one of the servers. There's a great selection of fresh fish. We had the dorade served in a caper and white wine sauce. It was delectable. We will return.
  • Post #59 - December 15th, 2010, 10:37 pm
    Post #59 - December 15th, 2010, 10:37 pm Post #59 - December 15th, 2010, 10:37 pm
    I was there too last night...amazing. The man is a genius.
  • Post #60 - March 20th, 2011, 12:54 pm
    Post #60 - March 20th, 2011, 12:54 pm Post #60 - March 20th, 2011, 12:54 pm
    I noticed last week that they've incorporated the "new" menu into the old one, so in addition to the usual menu you get a supplementary menu of fresh fish dishes and food preparation native to the chef's home town.

    I have yet to have a bad meal here (or in any of its earlier locations/incarnations), and continue to find Gaetano's one of the few sure-thing recommendations I can give to friends who want a great meal but minimal hassle, casual Italian that's completely different from the usual red sauce spots. Frankly, I'm shocked when I talk to people in Oak Park who have never even heard of it, since to my mouth it's as worth a drive as many of my favorites in Chicago proper.

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