Sat., Feb. 25: pizza & showboating

On Saturday we had tickets to Showboat in Chicago, so we spent a good part of the afternoon in the city exploring a bit.

First we went to a real estate showing on Fulton, an empty 3rd-floor condo, facing north (our son was doing the showing). In the city if you’re on the north side with windows facing north, it’s pretty boring compared to facing south which of course gives you the skyline, and if you’re high enough, maybe even a view of the lakefront.

Then we drove  Lake Shore Drive north to where 41 leaves it to jut east on Foster for just a couple miles. The photos of Corner Store and Corner Bar were two different corners on Foster, only a couple blocks apart.

We turned north on Lincoln Ave. which is one of the few “diagonals” in the city. Chicago is laid out with a pretty disciplined grid system with eight blocks to the mile, so the diagonals of Clark, Lincoln, and Milwaukee are unusual. Took that to Lincolnwood (not real far), then turned back south on Cicero to bring us back to Lawrence Ave. We were heading to Marie’s (see photo).

I won’t go so far as to say Marie’s is legendary, but it’s well-known and I’d never been there. Opened in 1940, and maybe you can see from the pic it looks like it got redecorated about 1975 or so. Let’s just say the bar itself is vinyl as are the bar stool seats.

But it’s well-known for the old-style experience of a neighborhood Italian place that still functions pretty much exactly as it has for decades: real good thin-crust, a lively bar where kids that come in spin themselves on the barstool while waiting for a table in the restaurant. There’s strolling musicians a couple nights a week. And you can enter through the liquor store that is the second part of the establishment. We entered the normal way,

We had a mushroom pizza (very good–but nothing extraordinary if you’re accusotmed to pizza in Chicago–just real good thin-crust) plus baked mostaccioli which means (this is implied in the word “baked”) it’s been put into the oven or under a broiler with cheese melted and browned on top of the pasta & tomato sauce (also really good) and the best part of the meal to me, two meatballs ordered on the side, which were delicious. Marie’s was recently involved in a flurry of disagreement because of being featured on the local PBS station WTTW’s restaurant-review show called Check, Please!. On this episode, one of the “guest reviewers” who are ordinary citizens who get to be on TV, showed up to review Marie’s and just blasted it on-air for being out of step with the times and just ordinary.

Regular viewers were aghast, because, well, “Duhh, that’s the whole point!” The place is a Chicago pizza joint, it’s been a Chicago pizza joint since before pizza went global, and it will be a Chicago pizza joint long after the jaded, trendy guy is gone. People also didn’t like the way he looked. But the main criticism of his scathing “review?” He showed up on a Sunday and expected brunch. Classic.

Then, as it started getting dark, we were headed to the Lyric Opera performance of the classic American musical, Showboat.

Next post facto: what I thought of Showboat.

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