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Il Covo: You have been warned

Il Covo: You have been warned
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  • Il Covo: You have been warned

    Post #1 - July 22nd, 2006, 8:55 am
    Post #1 - July 22nd, 2006, 8:55 am Post #1 - July 22nd, 2006, 8:55 am
    Anyone with fond childhood memories of Chef Boyardee will be pleased to know that he has moved to Chicago. His restaurant is called Il Covo, and it recently opened in the old Babaluci space on Damen.

    I dined there last night and had one of the worst restaurant meals I have ever experienced in Chicago—and certainly the worst meal in this price range. My sole reason for posting this is to spare other LTHers from stumbling into this place.

    My entrée was gnocchi, which was described as homemade, and in some sort of gorgonzola sauce. I detected no trace of gorgonzola, but that was the least of the problems with this dish. The gnocchi were gummy and gloppy, nearly flavorless. Many were stuck together. I have made better gnocchi at home, and I’ve never considered my own gnocchi-making endeavors anything more than a failure. These little balls of starch were served in a nondescript but highly acidic tomato sauce. I noted one small piece of basil in my dish, but otherwise the sauce appeared and tasted entirely unseasoned. With your eyes closed, you would have no trouble believing this concoction to be the latest product from Chef Boyardee, straight from the can. I had better food in prison. OK, I’ve never been to prison—but it’s the prospect of food like this that keeps me scared straight.

    Admittedly, the entrées of my dining companions were better than the gnocchi, but not by much. One had a radicchio risotto. It tasted like it came out of a box mix, which I suppose is one step above a can. The other had the ribeye. It was of Ponderosa quality and preparation—which would be fine at Ponderosa prices, but these were not.

    Service at Il Covo can best be described as indifferent. No one ever even asked us how we liked any of our food. When one of my companions was searching through his wallet for a credit card after we got our check, the waiter gestured with his hand in the universal signal of “hurry up.”

    On a positive note, dessert was very good: because we walked down the street to Hot Chocolate for it.

    In conclusion, the best thing that can be said about Il Covo is that you’ve never been there. If you can say that, quit while you’re ahead.
  • Post #2 - July 22nd, 2006, 9:37 am
    Post #2 - July 22nd, 2006, 9:37 am Post #2 - July 22nd, 2006, 9:37 am
    berryberry wrote:In conclusion, the best thing that can be said about Il Covo is that you’ve never been there.

    But how were the portions?

    ;) :roll:
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - July 22nd, 2006, 9:43 am
    Post #3 - July 22nd, 2006, 9:43 am Post #3 - July 22nd, 2006, 9:43 am
    berryberry wrote:No one ever even asked us how we liked any of our food.


    It may be bad karma, but can you blame them? :roll:
    JiLS
  • Post #4 - July 22nd, 2006, 10:31 am
    Post #4 - July 22nd, 2006, 10:31 am Post #4 - July 22nd, 2006, 10:31 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    berryberry wrote:In conclusion, the best thing that can be said about Il Covo is that you’ve never been there.

    But how were the portions?

    ;) :roll:


    I can say this about the portions: there was more than I could eat. :wink:
  • Post #5 - July 22nd, 2006, 2:27 pm
    Post #5 - July 22nd, 2006, 2:27 pm Post #5 - July 22nd, 2006, 2:27 pm
    I believe you always have to give a restaurant 2 tries, especially if it's a new restaurant.
  • Post #6 - July 22nd, 2006, 3:15 pm
    Post #6 - July 22nd, 2006, 3:15 pm Post #6 - July 22nd, 2006, 3:15 pm
    We live around the corner, so we'll try it at some point in a week or two.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
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  • Post #7 - July 22nd, 2006, 3:31 pm
    Post #7 - July 22nd, 2006, 3:31 pm Post #7 - July 22nd, 2006, 3:31 pm
    EvilUs wrote:I believe you always have to give a restaurant 2 tries, especially if it's a new restaurant.


    I completely understand your point. At the same time, a restaurant has to give you some reason to return a second time, some small sign of potential. This one didn't.

    But one of the nice things about LTH is that we can learn from a large number of trials without having to conduct each one personally. I'll be perfectly happy for others to eat there multiple times and tell me that my experience was a fluke. But I won't be holding my breath.
  • Post #8 - July 22nd, 2006, 4:17 pm
    Post #8 - July 22nd, 2006, 4:17 pm Post #8 - July 22nd, 2006, 4:17 pm
    Is it new owners or the same that owned Baba Luci ?

    And radichio risotto ? Now that's a combo I've never heard before. Wouldn't greens like that go completely & grossly limp when cooked in risotto or if added late be too bitter and overwhelm the taste of the rice ?
  • Post #9 - July 22nd, 2006, 9:20 pm
    Post #9 - July 22nd, 2006, 9:20 pm Post #9 - July 22nd, 2006, 9:20 pm
    tem wrote:And radichio risotto ? Now that's a combo I've never heard before.

    I had a freakin' awesome radicchio trevisano risotto in Milan some years back. Finely chop the stuff and the flavor is fantastic with a great purple color too.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #10 - July 23rd, 2006, 7:43 am
    Post #10 - July 23rd, 2006, 7:43 am Post #10 - July 23rd, 2006, 7:43 am
    tem wrote:Is it new owners or the same that owned Baba Luci ?

    And radichio risotto ? Now that's a combo I've never heard before. Wouldn't greens like that go completely & grossly limp when cooked in risotto or if added late be too bitter and overwhelm the taste of the rice ?


    Tem,

    JoelF's comment above demonstrates it's not an odd combination from an Italian standpoint. Two things, in Italian cooking: 1) bitter is good; 2) there are no particular fetishes about crisp vegetables -- some are eaten that way, but lots aren't. Sometimes, limp is good.

    :shock: :?

    Anyway, it sounds as though the folks at Il Covo managed to screw it up.

    Your question about the ownership is a good one; have the old owners just gone for a new look and concept? Or are they gone and replaced?

    (Incidentally, I'm now curious about the old place... I'll search for comments...)

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #11 - July 23rd, 2006, 7:47 am
    Post #11 - July 23rd, 2006, 7:47 am Post #11 - July 23rd, 2006, 7:47 am
    Sometimes, limp is good.


    You're so lucky the tagline just got changed already.
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  • Post #12 - July 23rd, 2006, 8:00 am
    Post #12 - July 23rd, 2006, 8:00 am Post #12 - July 23rd, 2006, 8:00 am
    Antonius wrote:
    tem wrote:And radichio risotto ? Now that's a combo I've never heard before. Wouldn't greens like that go completely & grossly limp when cooked in risotto or if added late be too bitter and overwhelm the taste of the rice ?


    JoelF's comment above demonstrates it's not an odd combination from an Italian standpoint. Two things, in Italian cooking: 1) bitter is good; 2) there are no particular fetishes about crisp vegetables -- some are eaten that way, but lots aren't. Sometimes, limp is good.


    I am reminded of the beet and beet green risotto that I enjoyed at Bacaro in Champaign. Beyond the color of the dish, the only visible evidence inside the risotto of beets were the bits of garlickly, limp greens that lent a fantastic dimension to the whole thing. I can imagine a radicchio risotto, in the hands of a good chef, would be equally interesting.

    Antonius wrote:(Incidentally, I'm now curious about the old place... I'll search for comments...)


    I'll save you a search. It was terrible.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #13 - July 23rd, 2006, 12:55 pm
    Post #13 - July 23rd, 2006, 12:55 pm Post #13 - July 23rd, 2006, 12:55 pm
    The owners of Babalucci sold the Damen restaurant, but still own the Babalucci in Hoffman Estates. These are new owners on Damen.
  • Post #14 - July 23rd, 2006, 1:16 pm
    Post #14 - July 23rd, 2006, 1:16 pm Post #14 - July 23rd, 2006, 1:16 pm
    berryberry wrote:My entrée was gnocchi, which was described as homemade, and in some sort of gorgonzola sauce. I detected no trace of gorgonzola....These little balls of starch were served in a nondescript but highly acidic tomato sauce.


    Every gongonzolla sauce I've seen has been a white sauce, no tomatoes. It is certainly possible to make a gorgonzolla and tomato sauce, but it is also possible you were served the wrong dish.

    Usually serving the wrong dish would make you think the poorly of a restaurant. In this case, it may actually make you think better of it! :)

    berryberry wrote:In conclusion, the best thing that can be said about Il Covo is that you’ve never been there. If you can say that, quit while you’re ahead.


    Hilarious!
    Thanks for the heads up about the restaurant.
  • Post #15 - August 6th, 2006, 2:04 pm
    Post #15 - August 6th, 2006, 2:04 pm Post #15 - August 6th, 2006, 2:04 pm
    I must be honest and let you know that I know someone affiliated with IL Covo, so I am slightly biased. However, I have been in a couple times in the past two and a half weeks that they've been open and have had a lovely dinner each time. Specifically, I have had the gnocci and would like to respond to the previous remarks on it. While it could have been lighter in texture it was better than many I had tried in the past. And if you'd read the menu a little closer you would have understood that the gorgonzola is in the gnocci dough, and that it is clearly described as being served with a tomatoe sauce. I am a vegetarian and was delighted when our server could tell me each of the ingredients in the dish and reassure me that I would be safe in eating the gnocci.
    I'm wondering if you are also aware that when you visited the restaurant they had only been open for 3 days.
    Frankly, I'm turned off by your comments. I would think that the purpose of this forum is to lend constructive critism to those who might benefit from it, not to bash someone while they're still using training wheels. I would recommend to any and all who use this website to try it for yourselves and form your own opinions...and let those who ate Chef Boyardee as children (my Italian grandparents are rolling over in their graves as I type the words) continue to eat it as adults...I hear it's on sale 2 for 1 at Jewel.
  • Post #16 - August 6th, 2006, 3:05 pm
    Post #16 - August 6th, 2006, 3:05 pm Post #16 - August 6th, 2006, 3:05 pm
    EvilUs wrote:I believe you always have to give a restaurant 2 tries, especially if it's a new restaurant.


    Otherwise known as the "This tastes awful...try it!" impulse...
  • Post #17 - August 6th, 2006, 4:27 pm
    Post #17 - August 6th, 2006, 4:27 pm Post #17 - August 6th, 2006, 4:27 pm
    tem wrote:And radichio risotto ? Now that's a combo I've never heard before. Wouldn't greens like that go completely & grossly limp when cooked in risotto or if added late be too bitter and overwhelm the taste of the rice ?


    when radicchio is cooked, it loses its bitterness. justjoan
  • Post #18 - August 7th, 2006, 11:45 am
    Post #18 - August 7th, 2006, 11:45 am Post #18 - August 7th, 2006, 11:45 am
    hotdish wrote:I must be honest and let you know that I know someone affiliated with IL Covo, so I am slightly biased.

    Frankly, I'm turned off by your comments. I would think that the purpose of this forum is to lend constructive critism to those who might benefit from it, not to bash someone while they're still using training wheels. I would recommend to any and all who use this website to try it for yourselves and form your own opinions...and let those who ate Chef Boyardee as children (my Italian grandparents are rolling over in their graves as I type the words) continue to eat it as adults...I hear it's on sale 2 for 1 at Jewel.


    Hi hotdish & welcome to LTHForum.

    Thanks for clearing up the misunderstanding on the gnocchi, and providing more information while quite properly noting your affiliation with Il Covo.

    Let's be sure we keep it about the restaurant, though, and not get personal. Part of your post gets a little close to that line.

    Completely correct, though, as other posters have already noted, that a new place might have some issues at first and should be given some time to work them out. Other posters have said they will stop by and provide their comments, and we can all look forward to their reports.

    But the OP is also correct to share their experience, even it if may not be the norm.

    Please post more, and do not be turned off because of one negative review of Il Covo in its early days.

    d
    for the moderators
  • Post #19 - August 8th, 2006, 9:34 am
    Post #19 - August 8th, 2006, 9:34 am Post #19 - August 8th, 2006, 9:34 am
    hotdish wrote: While it could have been lighter in texture it was better than many I had tried in the past.


    Are you referring to other gnocchi you tried in prison or on the outside? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

    But seriously, if you decide to participate regularly on LTH forum—and I encourage you to do so—you’ll find that people disagree about restaurants every now and then. You’ll also find that people almost never insult each other personally because of such a disagreement. Let’s keep it that way.

    As to il covo, I stick by my original assessment: absolutely the worst restaurant experience I’ve had this year. That’s one guy’s opinion about one meal (well, 4 meals actually, since I also sampled my companions’ dishes). Maybe our experience was a fluke. Maybe the place will get better over time. My guess is that a restaurant capable of turning out such awful food is unlikely to be excellent even when it’s firing on all cylinders (assuming it wasn’t when I was there). But time will tell. If other people—especially people unconnected to the restaurant—have good experiences there, I hope they’ll post about it. I promise not to insult anyone’s upbringing if they have a different experience than I did.
  • Post #20 - August 8th, 2006, 4:05 pm
    Post #20 - August 8th, 2006, 4:05 pm Post #20 - August 8th, 2006, 4:05 pm
    Mike G wrote:
    You're so lucky the tagline just got changed already.


    Is there any way the site tagline could be hyperlinked so we could click it and jump to the post from which it came? Sometimes I read it and get curious. Sorry if this is not posted in the right place.
  • Post #21 - August 8th, 2006, 4:09 pm
    Post #21 - August 8th, 2006, 4:09 pm Post #21 - August 8th, 2006, 4:09 pm
    On Useful stuff there is a sticky with quotes hyperlinked to their original post: http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=4075
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #22 - August 8th, 2006, 4:10 pm
    Post #22 - August 8th, 2006, 4:10 pm Post #22 - August 8th, 2006, 4:10 pm
    Simon wrote:
    Mike G wrote:
    You're so lucky the tagline just got changed already.


    Is there any way the site tagline could be hyperlinked so we could click it and jump to the post from which it came? Sometimes I read it and get curious. Sorry if this is not posted in the right place.


    No, there's not. But there's another way....
  • Post #23 - August 10th, 2006, 12:12 pm
    Post #23 - August 10th, 2006, 12:12 pm Post #23 - August 10th, 2006, 12:12 pm
    Stagger wrote: Otherwise known as the "This tastes awful...try it!" impulse...


    I was dining with a couple of fellow LTH'ers on the 47th-athon, and they induced me to have a bit of an eyeball taco with exactly that logic, and almost exactly those words. The whole thing seemed perverse to the extreme, starting with them ordering and eating it with that comment, and then the fact that it somehow induced me to partake.

    And you know, while it was not bad, they were right that it was awful.

    At moments like that I wish I had Loren Eiseley with me. He could make sense of it.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #24 - August 11th, 2006, 7:24 am
    Post #24 - August 11th, 2006, 7:24 am Post #24 - August 11th, 2006, 7:24 am
    Dish, in this weeks email that also mentioned the new GNRs, reported some startup problems at Il Covo as well.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #25 - August 11th, 2006, 7:26 am
    Post #25 - August 11th, 2006, 7:26 am Post #25 - August 11th, 2006, 7:26 am
    But the same guy in Time Out who praised Fred Gobster liked it! (Actually, he notes some of the same problems, too, he just seems to be WAY more forgiving than anybody else.)
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  • Post #26 - August 11th, 2006, 7:31 am
    Post #26 - August 11th, 2006, 7:31 am Post #26 - August 11th, 2006, 7:31 am
    Mike G wrote:But the same guy in Time Out who praised Fred Gobster liked it! (Actually, he notes some of the same problems, too, he just seems to be WAY more forgiving than anybody else.)


    It seemed like having an engaging conversation with the chef made a big impression on him and tended to outweigh the negatives. I've read some good reviews by this guy, though, so I'm not ready to discount his gut-sense.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #27 - August 11th, 2006, 7:32 am
    Post #27 - August 11th, 2006, 7:32 am Post #27 - August 11th, 2006, 7:32 am
    That seems to me to be exactly the wrong principle on which to base a review, then.

    I'll stick with Berryberry's for now, no matter what a peach the chef is.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #28 - August 11th, 2006, 7:37 am
    Post #28 - August 11th, 2006, 7:37 am Post #28 - August 11th, 2006, 7:37 am
    Mike G wrote:That seems to me to be exactly the wrong principle on which to base a review, then.

    I'll stick with Berryberry's for now, no matter what a peach the chef is.


    Absolutely. I wasn't suggesting that a pleasant chitchat should outweigh other considerations...like food, service, etc. I'm not inclined to go to Il Covo...but I wouldn't write it off just yet, either.

    I did find the intial initial post in this thread graphically chilling and a very effective damnation (I'm trying to imagine any waiter anywhere making a "hurry up" gesture as you're going for a credit card).

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #29 - August 13th, 2006, 11:02 am
    Post #29 - August 13th, 2006, 11:02 am Post #29 - August 13th, 2006, 11:02 am
    Someone said: I'm wondering if you are also aware that when you visited the restaurant they had only been open for 3 days. Frankly, I'm turned off by your comments. I would think that the purpose of this forum is to lend constructive critism to those who might benefit from it, not to bash someone while they're still using training wheels.

    The above comments, beg the question. Did those people that went to this "training wheel" restaurant receive a discount? No? So why should someone pay full price and receive less than their best efforts.

    When I, and the majority partner opened our place, for the first week, we invited family, friends, neighbors for free meals, followed by street traffic, to whom we gave a fifty percent discount. Yes it a bit expensive, but the constructive comments we received paid off, in the long run.
  • Post #30 - August 13th, 2006, 4:41 pm
    Post #30 - August 13th, 2006, 4:41 pm Post #30 - August 13th, 2006, 4:41 pm
    sabersix: what place do you own? justjoan

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