Tina M.

Chicago, IL


I was born in Milwaukee, grew up in West Bloomfield, MI and studied Marketing at Michigan State University before transferring to Columbia College Chicago where I graduated with a Journalism degree. I am half Greek and half Italian, which is why I love authentic, bold and inventive foods. I am a fitness enthusiast and am very active so I like to reward myself with delicious meals and fresh little treats! I love to travel and have been blessed with many opportunities in the past to try foods from all over the world and country. Also, having a Greek mother and Italian father has made it very easy to familiarize myself with culturally diverse foods and desserts. I love my mother very much and her baklava is pretty killer. But authentic baklava and Almond Kataifi in Athens….may take the cake! I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend, Marcus, for four years. He also grew up in Michigan. He has traveled and moved around the country with me. Luckily, we both share the passion of enjoying and searching for unique, authentic and creative dining experiences. I also have a three-year old Lab mix, Brody. He also loves to eat well and dine often. After college, I spent four years as a Publicist with Playboy Enterprises in Chicago before accepting a position out west as the Manager, Corporate Communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Best Mexican restaurant in the US was in Phoenix…Jalapeno Inferno! And that may have been the only good thing we found in Phoenix….other than cheap rent, warmer winters and good friends!) Needless to say the desert was not for us. After only a short year working in baseball and living at Chase Field, I decided to jump ship again. I took a position in Silicon Valley as the Communications Manager for Trion Worlds, a video-gaming publisher and developer. Think Grandma’s Boy! The food in San Francisco was really a treat. We had the freshest seafood in Half Moon Bay, the best cioppino I have ever had at Sam’s Chowder House, amazing Michelin star restaurants downtown like SPQR and Coi and some gems in Napa Valley and Yountville, including Bottega and French Laundry. Growing up in the Midwest with four seasons, made living in California comparable to living on another planet. It was a fantastic and unique planet but definitely different. It is beautiful out there and we have every intention to move back….when we can afford to live there! After two wonderful years in the Bay, we moved back to Chicago after I accepted a job with the Big Ten Network as Media Relations and Communications Manager. Since moving back last March, I have been on a mission to eat well and find the best spots in the city. Next’s Sicily is probably the front runner right now. MK is also one of my all-time favorite restaurants. Not to mention the newly opened hot spots Carriage House (Amazing Praline Sundae), Trencherman (The cocktails are like little meals!) and the delicious brunch service at Storefront Company (The tomato water in the bloody mary’s is made in-house and it makes the cocktail pretty spectacular.) Until the next meal…..Salute!

Menu:Recent Reviews

Kyoto: A trip to Kyoto in the middle of Autumn.

Restaurant: Next
Since I moved back to Chicago last March, Sicily being my first Next adventure, Kyoto had a lot to live up to. Did it deliver? Sort of. I am a sucker for anything autumn and learning that the menu was based on Kyoto in the fall was exciting. The meal started with my favorite course of the entire meal...corn husk tea. The flavor was so strong and beautiful...I even tried to recreate it at home, which of course did not work. Tofu, maple, chestnut, and miso flavors took front and center throughout the meal. White-miso puree, a hassun tray, maple leaves, branches and hay all were positioned separately throughout the meal on the table. Yuzu shells, poached shrimp and shrimp heads were all part of the 14 course meal. Braised abalone matsutake mushroom chawanmushi, sashimi plate with kampachi, medai and salmon. The dessert consisted of roasted figs with custard and fried yuba, and one of my favorite pieces was an edible deep-fried Japanese maple leaf. I enjoyed the flavors and the beauty of each dish but I was left with a bit of an upset stomach. Too many different bites all not sitting well together. As always the experience was wonderful. The presentation was perfect and the knowledge we took away regarding Kyoto and the Javanese flavors we had experienced was very special. But about an hour after the meal my boyfriend and I both asked what was for dinner.



Corn Husk Japanese Tea, sashimi plate, fried maple leaf

Sicily: A wonderful Italian escape full of delicious twists and turns!

Restaurant: Next
That is not more to say then exquisite. Right down to the mis-matched dishes the food was served on. The authentic flavors and spices used was just such a treat to experience. Not only because I am Sicilian but because the flavors were so unique and unlike anything I have ever eaten before. We left the meal excited to talk about each course and very full! The saffron risotto balls with lamb's tongue was by far my favorite course. It was so delicious and textually inviting. The cripsy outside filled with the creamy risotto and rich lamb meat. The meat and fish courses were equally as amazing. Here are some of my favorites: octopus in agrodolce, air-dried tuna loin, grilled mussels and shrimp crudo with basil and cubes of watermelon...yes....watermelon. Bucatini and gemelli con sarde, pasta with currants and fried sardines. Salty and flaky. Such a delicious mixture. Dessert was marzipan-enrobed cassata cake and a mini desserts, which included cookies, strawberry fried ravioli and baby size cannolis. Everything was simply amazing. If Sicily were a stand alone restaurant...I would be there every weekend! :)



Saffron Risotto Balls with Lamb's tongue, Swordfish with mint basil pesto, Pork Shoulder

I feel honored to live a block away from such a special place!

Restaurant: mk
The first time I ate at MK I was impressed. The second time I came I was in love. The service is just as amazing as the food. Everything I tried on the a la cart menus have been surprising and unique. The seasonal menu is full of entrees for whatever mood you are in. Delicious arctic char and tuna, pickled beets and salad with Belgian endive. Everything is so delicious and perfectly prepared and served. Each course is a masterpiece! The tasting menus have been filling and a wonderful treat. If you make a reservation for a special occasion, as I did for my boyfriend's birthday, they will try to make the meal special and personal. They spelled "Happy Birthday" in chocolate raspberry sauce and served a second dessert course that included cookies and macaroons. It was really special. They also served us glasses of champagne on the house. MK is definitely my favorite restaurant in the city!



Everything. With a frequently changing menu...you can't go wrong with whatever you choose.

Ahoy! Oysters and Cocktails...Oh My!

Restaurant: GT Fish and Oyster
I liked it. Don't get me wrong. But it was not nearly as good as everyone told me it was going to be. But, yes, it was good! The oyster shooters were great. Terrific even. I plan to go back just for the shooters and a spiked lemonade or two. The Cioppino was good, not great, but good. The brother was perfectly seasoned and the portion size was large. The fish tacos were mediocre. Flavors were unique, portion size was small, but nothing out of this world. But, as I mentioned, it was good. :)



Oyster Shooters and the Cioppino

Consistent and Delicious

Restaurant: The Publican
One of my favorite places in Chicago. Great spot to bring out of town guests and/or clients. Fun environment with standing room tables for those who just want to grab a few drinks and some pork rinds (Which are amazing!) Communal tables are offered but you can specify if you prefer a non-communal table. The food is delicious, unique and heavy but consistent. I have never left unhappy. The fish entree options are extensive, if you do not eat red meat. The fish stew is remarkable and easily shared between two. The meat options are always favored and are delivered with large portions.Theportions.The Farm chicken and blood sausages are two of my favorite meat entrees. Also, Saturday brunch is a winner. Heavy and a bit too savory for my taste but good for a once in a blue moon brunch. You can always just go for the bloody marys! They are outstanding...great cocktail ornaments!



Dinner: Pork Rinds, Fish Stew, Farm Chicken Brunch: Anything and a Bloody Mary!


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