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Fasten your seatbelts for M Burger; plus cozy Italian in... Little Italy

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Yes, yes, yes, so the whole gourmet, chef-y burger bandwagon is rolling happily along, so much so that you might be tempted to roll your eyes if you hear of yet another place offering yet more grass-fed, hormone-free, bacon-topped patties.

But here's why we're resisting that urge with M Burger, the latest in Rich Melman's empire that's opening tomorrow at 161 E. Huron just around the bend from (really, within) the uber-upscale Tru: the prices, people! Have you seen these prices? The menu offers but eight food items, the priciest being a $4.99 chopped chicken salad. A cheeseburger is $2.99; a double M Burger, with "bacon, cheese, secret sauce" will run you $4.49, before tax.

Yes, we realize these are burgers we're talking about -- fast food, by definition. But there's a vast difference, in our eyes, between chef-driven fast food -- the M Burgers and DMK Burger Bars of our world -- and the rest. Given the choice, the former is what we'd feed to our kids.

And speaking of chefs going downscale, the buzz is building about Aldino's, Dean Zanella's latest venture in Little Italy, also opening tomorrow.

The menu is all about Italian comfort food, with an antipasti section alone that's worth swooning over. But we can't for the adjoining market Zanella has planned at 624 S. Racine that's opening in a few more weeks.

It'll carry the sort of ingredients that are harder to find in regular grocery stores -- preserved lemons, say. Zanella also wants to offer meats by the pound that he's using in the restaurant, and fresh seafood (likely available via pre-order) simply because "it's a hard thing in the city to find good seafood." He'll also offer sandwiches (porchetta with pickled fennel and a roasted garlic spread, veal meatball and so on) and prepared salads, sides and meals that "people can take and finish up at home."

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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This page contains a single entry by Janet Rausa Fuller published on March 10, 2010 10:45 AM.

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