Steve Dolinsky, the Chicago food media fixture formerly known as “the Hungry Hound” who is now reporting as “the Food Guy” for NBC’s WMAQ-Channel 5, is venturing into the festival circuit with a focus on his area of expertise: pizza. His event, the Chicago Pizza Festival, is slated to feature 40 pizzerias in a range of styles on July 23-24 inside Plumbers Union Hall at 1350 W. Washington Boulevard in West Loop. Participating restaurants include many of Chicago’s best pizza spots, including Neapolitan haven Spacca Napoli, Detroit-style hotspot Paulie Gee’s Logan Square, and tavern-style favorite Vito & Nick’s.
Dolinsky, whose autographed portraits hang in hundreds of restaurants across the city, has long touted himself as a Chicago pizza expert, publishing Pizza City USA in 2018 and positioning himself as a go-to source for national food writers covering the city’s pizzeria scene (much to the chagrin of some local operators). He had also parlayed the book into a culinary touring company where he showed attendees around his favorite pizza spots in the city, but business was hurt by the pandemic. In February 2021, Dolinsky left his Hungry Hound post after 17 years at ABC 7 Chicago after the station decided not to renew his contract, but by August he’d rebranded as the Food Guy and resumed his familiar patter around new and adored restaurants in the city and suburbs.
A multiple James Beard media award winner, Dolinsky tells Block Club Chicago that a festival feels like the organic progression of his pizza passion. Echoing the sentiments of many Chicagoans, he also wants to highlight diverse selections and technical prowess that are too often overshadowed by the looming specter of deep dish. Ticket prices and more details are available on the festival’s website.
Super Bowl Sunday was good for the restaurant business — at least for some bars and restaurants
Some Chicago restaurants saw an uptick in business for Super Bowl Sunday, at least based on anecdotal evidence collected by CBS Chicago and ABC 7 Chicago. CBS visited Kincade’s, a Bengals bar on Armitage Avenue in Lincoln Park, which had all four of its barrooms open for the first time in two years in order to accommodate all the Cincinnati fans who wanted to gather to celebrate their team’s first appearance in the Super Bowl since 1989. ABC 7, meanwhile, talked to diners on the North, South, and West Sides who confirmed that they got their Super Bowl meal from a restaurant. Some even stayed to eat. But other restaurants did not see an improvement in business. More anecdotal evidence collected by Eater during a random stroll around the city confirmed that many other restaurants were empty or closed early because of the Big Game.
Bronzeville leaders emphatically do not want a casino in the neighborhood
The city is still sorting through the five casino proposals it received in November, including including one in the McCormick Place Marshalling Yards at 31st Street and DuSable Lake Shore Drive in Bronzeville, but neighborhood leaders actively oppose a casino in the area, Block Club reports. The proposed casino would sit next to the former site of Michael Reese Hospital, where a $3.8 billion development is in the works. The Bronzeville leaders, who include Ald. Sophia King (4th) and Leonard McGee, president of the Gap Community Organization and member of the Michael Reese Advisory Council, argue that a casino would increase crime in the neighborhood and promote gambling addition.
Soul food queen Mama Josephine about to turn 80, still going strong
Josephine “Mama” Wade, owner of Josephine’s Southern Cooking in Chatham, turns 80 next month, but, as Louisa Chu reports in the Tribune, she’s nowhere close to retiring. Her son, Victor Love, says he’s planning two new restaurant concepts in Logan Square and elsewhere on the South Side, and he’s also in talks to get a Josephine’s location into O’Hare.