They're at it again. LTHForum, the chat site for food lovers, doled out its awards for Great Neighborhood Restaurants last night to 18 Chicago area eateries and bakeries (see the full list here). For the first time this year, the group also recognized Great Neighborhood Resources, giving the nod to five food-related shops, including Northwestern Cutlery and the Spice House.
Picking up their awards at the dinner at Marie's, 4127 W. Lawrence:
Hoosier Mama Pie Co. owner Paula Haney, with her husband and 21-month-old twins in tow, offal-loving hubby/wife team Rob and Allison Levitt of Mado; Spice House owners Patty and Tom Erd, and Pastoral's Greg O'Neill and Ken Miller.
Dobra Bielinski of Delightful Pastries, another winner, delighted us with the news that she's opening a second bakery at 1710 N. Wells on Nov. 1. She and the Pastoral team also will have a presence at the Chicago French Market inside the Ogilvie Metra station.
This is the fifth year of the GNR awards, which began, as LTH-er David Dickson said, "with the question of, 'Where should I go eat?' " Forum members nominate and vote on places that have that certain culinary je ne sais quoi.
It was the first year I had the pleasure of chowing with LTH members at their awards dinner. Marie's is a pizza joint attached to a liquor store. It has red booths and paneled and mirrored walls. Its pizza is the stuff of dreams.
One might be inclined to judge a book by its cover and pass up Marie's, were it not for the enthusiastic eaters who make it a point to seek out these neighborhood gems. Chicago needs places like Marie's -- but it needs a forum like LTH just as much.