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A very Chicago, very chowish rehearsal dinner - Greek? Pizza? Chicken Vesuvio??? (long)

Cicely | Mar 13, 200610:50 PM

I'm planning a wedding in Chicago from afar (Los Angeles). I've searched the many threads about rehearsal dinners, but much like Bono, I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

Most of our guests will be from outside Chicago. I'd love to take them someplace distinctively Chicagoan. Our budget is relatively small (not exactly sure what, but we're not taking our party of 20 to Tru), so casual dining is fine... but we'd like a private room.

As for location, people will likely be staying around MagMile, so I'd prefer someplace around there... but it seems rather barren apart from tourist traps and chains. Let's just say a not-too-long taxi ride away.

I visited this weekend, but amid all our other appointments wasn't able to do as much restaurant-hopping as I would have liked. So I'm hoping you guys can help save me another extra $300 trip!

Ideas so far:

I love Artopolis... if only they took reservations!

We had lunch at Greek Islands (based on hound recs) and while my sea bass with lemon& olive oil was lovely and simple, their party menu consists of pretty heavy dishes like pastitsio and moussaka, which I don't care for. My fiance also had the combo plate and thought it was too salty. Also, seems like they don't have a private room for a party of our size.

However, I'm intrigued by what I've read of Venus, a Cypriot restaurant. Supposedly it's different from Greek food (more similarities to Turkey), and the catering menu is more varied. Has anyone tried it?


This was an option particularly close to my heart when we were considering hosting all our 100-something guests! The problem is getting a nice room.

My mom stopped in at Pizzeria Due and they said one could book their smaller room. When my fiance and I stopped in, they said one could NOT book that entire room, but perhaps the rooftop patio. I am not entirely confident that they would want to do that while the weather is fine. As for the small room, it's long and dark and ... well, I can't imagine it being festive, no matter how much beer & wine is involved.

Didn't make it to Lou Malnati's because it was a bit farther out, but the downtown location allegedly has a party room. Has anyone seen it? I've read the raves for the pizza. I suppose it's ridiculous to expect a pizzeria to have a particularly nice party room, but I still hope...???


Yes, we have excellent regional Mexican food in Los Angeles, not just Cal-Mex. But I know Chicago does too, and good food is always a welcome find. I just read about Chipilanga, which sounds very delicious and friendly. Thoughts?

I was thinking of Topolobampo/Frontera Grill, since it's in the 'hood. My fiance and I enjoy Rick Bayless' show. However, I've eaten on both sides of the restaurant and wasn't impressed. I mean, it wasn't bad, and I wanted to love the food of someone who seems so passionate about bringing authentic Mexican to Americans who'd rather chomp on burritos a la gringo, but, well... I couldn't. Still, I've only had lunch and small plates there, so the "Morales Room" is still in the running.


Getting a little desperate, I googled "chicken Vesuvio" and came up with Harry Caray's restaurant, which I know is in the area. Beautiful rooms, but much too big for our party. My dad, of course, would love it. On the other hand, I've actually never had chicken Vesuvio and I'm not sure how I feel about it, plus I'd hate to not give our guests any kind of choice. Hmm...

My mom also mentioned a place that I suspect is Hot Doug's, where she said there were goose-fat fries and tables with tablecloths - is this place a "real" restaurant? Might it be a good party spot? I note, however, that they close before dinner.

Thanks in advance for ANY suggestions or feedback...

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