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Cicchetti, Bellwether, Benchmark #Wiaw

Happy Wednesday, ladies and gents! And welcome to another addition of Susie Eats Chicago, also known as OMGALLTHEFOODS, also known as #WIAW. We’ve got a lot to cover (as usual), so let’s get to the smorgasbord of noms. Yeah, I said it.

Thank you as always, Jenn!

Thank you as always, Jenn!

We are going to have to go back a little bit, to Sunday of last week for our first review of some favorite Chicago restaurants in Streeterville and Old Town.

Cicchetti, round 2. Read about Round 1, the day of my job interview, here!

Funny story–we had the same waitress, only this time she was blond! And we sat outside. LE SIGH.

cicchetti padrona shandy limoncello suzlyfe

You know I have to talk about their drinks. I had to get the La Padrona again. CH gin, St. Germain, Strawberry Rhubarb Consomme, Rhubarb Bitters. So, so good, if a bit sweeter than last time. Still amazing. Alex went with their version of a Shandy–Bell’s Oberon (a summer wheat) and House made lemonade. I was flabbergasted by how good this was. Like beyond amazed. Maybe one of the best beer drinks I’ve had. Limoncello is brought out at the end of the meal, and it was of course amazeballs, but WAY stronger than last time, haha! Well, you know they make it themselves!

cicchetti salad pizza ravioli suzlyfe

We kept it pretty simple this time, but I have to say that the flavors were, as always, so, so incredible. This was the day of my long run + yoga with Sara + pancakes and such, so I wanted to get my vegetables in. Y’all know me and my veg. So on the left, Alex and I shared the Shaved Spring Vegetable Salad, which features shaved asparagus, spinach, fresh peas, radishes, shaved parm, and a light parm dressing (that was so amazingly good as I remembered it being that we saved it for our mains). There is just something so incredible about truly fresh produce. And holy crow, the spinach leaves were HUGE. A little touch that I really liked was the fact that the shaved asparagus had some seasoning on it, by itself–it just lifted everything that extra little notch.

For our mains, I got the mortadella, ricotta, pepperocini, spinach, and shaved asparagus pizza. I am very proud to say that I ate that entire thing (then again, you all know I have a tendency to do so with thin crust, veggie topped, light cheese pizzas. I’ve been known. Cough Blaze.). I have a closer-up picture, but mortadella doesn’t photo really well when you have taken a bite of the pizza, so you are going to have to visualize: thin, super airy crust (different than last time–this was more like a pita in flavor, with a thin puffiness similar to putting a tortilla in a fryer for a fried taco; still crisp, but with more chew), thin layer of ricotta (I asked for not tons, it was the perfect amount), scattered shaved pepperocini (not over-powering, just a nice little zing), layer of house mortadella (this is Italian baloney, essentially. This tasted of a cross between turkey and ham with olive undertones), more big a$$ spinach, topped with asparagus. CHILLS. This was spring/summer on a wheaty pizza crust.

Alex got the Braised Short Rib Ravioli with house tomato sauce and parm. If you remember from Nonna’s meatballs last time, I said that I wanted to climb inside of that sauce. It was the same stuff, and omgomgomgomg. It truly is at the top of the best sauces I have ever, ever had. I stole some for my pizza. The ravioli was fantastic, as to be expected. I’m not the biggest short rib fan, it just isn’t my fave, but this was a great example of it–the essence of beef.

Because Alex’s portion was appropriately (read, not ridiculous American) sized, and we had only had a small app, he was on the prowl. And so we got this bad boy.

cicchetti sundae suzlyfe

I like bad boys. Especially when they are made of the following magic: Sundae : tiramisu gelato, Fernet Branca menta fudge, pistachio brittle, amarena cherries, and homemade whipped cream. Oh, and the tiramisu gelato? They freeze pieces of tiramisu and then fold it in. UN FREAKING REAL. The cherries ooohhhhhhh ermigerd. You know how I am about cherries, and these were similar to the Luxardo ones that you get for real Manhattans.


Apparently, that was the week of sundaes and cookies.


Bellwether is a good restaurant right around the corner from us. The decor is having a bit of an identity crisis, as are some other aspects of the place, but it fit the bill for being close and easy, and then we had the lovely surprise of finding out that certain bottles of wine were 1/2 price. ANDDDDD so we ended up with a Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon. I like Sonoma Cabs–they aren’t as WABAM as Napa. Pretty excellent, I must say. Great fruit, not overly dry, nice body, really good mouth feel. Probably too much for what I was having, but easy to drink and fine with a great number of dishes.

bellwether jalapeno tuna burger suzlyfe

I wanted something light–I was feeling kinda weird, and tuna was calling to me, so I got the tuna crudo wrap, with tomato, spinach, tuna, avocado, carrot, green apple, and a wasabi vin. I unwrapped it in true Suz fashion, and it was good, but the ratios were a little off. The wasabi stuff was bangin though. Alex got the jalapeno cheddar burger, which also has crispy onion strings and bacon on it. The slaw and fries are really, really good, so I did the right thing and helped him make his way.

You know what we finished with:

A bottle of wine later.... this happened

A bottle of wine later…. this happened

Skillet cookie. They make it when you order it, so it takes a bit, and by then we were honestly not hungry or needing it, but how are you going to turn that down? It was good (duh) but dense, and afterward, I thought we were both going to need to be rolled home. Oh, and when it came out, the chocolate was bubbling a bit from where it touched the skillet.

Benchmark (Old Town)

Another al fresco (and great people watching) opportunity. Benchmark is definitely on the list for places to take friends (or ourselves, lol) in the future. Lots more on the menu we want to try.

benchmark tangerine

Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat If you like mimosas, but sometimes find them too orangey, GET THIS. This is amazing. I put it up there with the Cicchetti shandy. I don’t like flavored beers, but this, YESH. Perfect for summer–drier, not overly orangey, delish.

benchmark salad hummus skewers suzlyfe

We decided to do the app/ small mail route, but good lord, that hummus + guacamole platter was huge and we were both full after it. We still cleared our plates. Mama taught me good. 😉 The hummus was roasted red pepper and the guac was spot on–with HUGE pieces of avocado. Warm toasted pita, veggies, and those super crispy fried tortillas. We got extra veg, and had already pretty much called uncle on the pita when Alex’s chicken skewers arrived with more guac and pitas! Delicious, if a little bit oily. Kind of a cilantro marinade, and with green goddess dip (I took it home and actually licked the container clean). There was even more avocado on my plate! I got the southwest salad with grilled chicken (with a chipotle sauce), tomato, corn, black beans, chihuahua cheese, avocado, tortilla strips, southwest dressing (chipotle ranch, basically).

We ate it alllllllll. And it was goooooood. Well, we ate it all but took the second round of pita, guac, and green goddess home. And then we walked up to Lincoln park and the zoo (after a stop to discuss important things like cinnamon and cardamom at Spice Market next door).

And last night? I had D4. Yeah. Talk about fueling for a marathon!

OMGALLTHEFOODS. 😀 Always and forever!

So, did I make up for the lack of foodie discussion of late? I hope so, my fingers are exhausted.

Have you had mortadella before? What about tangerine wheat beer, or a proper shandy? What is your favorite summer libation?

Hummus or guacamole?

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  • Reply Laura @ the gluten-free treadmill

    My mouth is watering – it all sounds so delicious! Tell me there is a very affordable place to enjoy two weeks from tomorrow!!!
    Laura @ the gluten-free treadmill recently posted…Running for Sexual Violence AwarenessMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 6:29 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Oh, don’t you worry, I have already started figuring out where we are going, lol.

      July 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm
  • Reply Michele @ paleorunningmomma

    Skillet cookie? Whoa. I am a guacomole girl all the way, and since I barely ever go out to eat anymore the foodie talk is way over my head! But that skillet cookie, seriously!

    July 23, 2014 at 6:29 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I was shocked when he ordered it, told him I probably wouldn’t have much of it…. then he slacked off on his end, and well, we are not ones to leave food haha. Part of the reason I go all “foodie” when I talk about eating out is that otherwise, we are the simplest people ever!

      July 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm
  • Reply cait @pieceofcait

    tiramisu gelato / bad boy / amazingness = YUMMMMMM!!! so many great eats! 🙂
    cait @pieceofcait recently posted…WIAW: Typical Greek Lunches + the other good stuff 🙂My Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 7:17 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I know. We are WICKED

      July 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm
  • Reply Rae

    It’s only 8:30 am and I just had breakfast, but now I want all the guacamole and a skillet cookie. And a cocktail. And I blame you. 😉
    Rae recently posted…Vermont Brewers FestivalMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 7:21 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m ok with that

      July 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm
  • Reply Stacie@SimplySouthernStacie

    I need that sundae!! It might be worth a special trip to Chicago for.

    Hummus or guacamole? That’s tough! Have you ever mixed them together? So, so good! Best of both worlds!
    Stacie@SimplySouthernStacie recently posted…When Do You Feel Beautiful?My Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 7:33 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Definitely worth the trip! Get over here! You better believe that we had half of each and then started mixing–I know of what you speak

      July 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm
  • Reply Michael Anderson

    Great collection of yummies as always 🙂

    I will drink a variety of red wines all year, but Lisa mostly favors dry whites in the summer (along with Martinis, and has me as bartender 🙂 ). But also in the summer we like Gin & Tonics, so gin was all we brought on our NYC trip …
    Michael Anderson recently posted…Running, Blogging and Life – Continuous Trust FallMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 7:38 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I will stand by you and say that a good G&T is pretty stellar. What is your gin pick? I cannot do Beefeater or Bombay Saffire. I don’t think I’ve Tanq by itself, so I can’t speak to that. Hendricks and Plymouth are ok by me though.

      July 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm
  • Reply Suslyfe's mommy, Clare

    That skillet cookie…….I WANT ONE!

    July 23, 2014 at 7:40 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Oh I know you do!

      July 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner

    I don’t think I’ve had any of those drinks! You’re way hipper than I am 🙂
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…5 Minute Kale Pomegranate Parmesean SaladMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 8:02 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well, I have to say, reading this post, that me is way hipper than I am too!

      July 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    I don’t think I’ve ever met a cab that I didn’t like. I can drink them with anything- people say you should drink white wine with chicken, fish, etc,…I have never felt the need to follow that rule. Last night we had a california cab with a chicken/spaghetti squash bake. Your post is 99% about food and I manage to ramble on about the wine…. Everything looks delish as always!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…WIAW: A Mostly Paleo MondayMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 8:19 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hahahaha but the wine was a big part of it! I would definitely recommend the Rodney Strong. And I love a good cab, but not overly tannined. I don’t like to feel like I’ve been licking pavement after lol

      July 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm
  • Reply Linda @ Fit Fed and Happy

    Cicci, and Bella-what? Such exotic names! What do you know, I learn something new everyday.
    Linda @ Fit Fed and Happy recently posted…WIAW #4 – A Tragic Eat + First Ever Bulletproof Beverage!My Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 8:29 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I love a good restaurant name–like the horse show names that we used to come up with.

      July 23, 2014 at 1:35 pm
  • Reply Sarah

    That skillet cookie looks so good. I am adding all of these to my list of places to check out. Everything looks so delicious right now!
    Sarah recently posted…Blessed-The Gratitude EditionMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 8:46 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Do it! And lemme know if you are in the neighborhood!

      July 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm
  • Reply Lauren @ ihadabiglunch

    The hummus platter at Benchmark….(sigh). I always feel bad paying money for hummus when I could spend half on an actual container of it, but sometimes there’s nothing better than warm pita bread and crispy veggies with hummus when you’re out. I will definitely try that Tangerine beer next time! That’s right up my alley.
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…Mini Broccoli Cheddar FrittatasMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 9:26 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well then we will just have to go together. And then it will be worth the price of admission 😀

      July 23, 2014 at 1:35 pm
  • Reply Autumn

    Holy wow ridiculously amazing dishes..allthedishes! Q~ out of all of them, which one would you go back for and order again? My numero uno is Guac #1!
    Autumn recently posted…Post Office BBQ , Spaghetti and Meatballs, You’re InvitedMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 10:09 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I would have to say probably the pizza, tomato sauces, or the sundae from Cicchetti. Everything (I would say my tuna wrap was the weak link in all of it) was fantastic, but that pizza truly, truly surprised me.
      And that guac? we probably paid 500% of what it cost to make it, and I would pay it again!

      July 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm
  • Reply Mama Salt

    OMG that sundae.
    So my new method for reading your blog on Wednesdays is to come over here just before lunch time. Now that I’ve looked at your photos and am starving, I can go eat my lunch. Which unfortunately is not anywhere near as awesome as anything you’ve posted here.

    In the summer I switch to pinot grigio…I’m really not picky about them either. Just a nice cold, crisp glass of wine while eating my dinner outside is the best! I kind of wish I still had a taste for beer, but after not drinking it for so long (during my pregnancy) I think my tolerance for it really shifted.

    July 23, 2014 at 10:28 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We definitely don’t get to indulge to this level all the time, but it was a tough, long week and a half, and honestly, we just wanted an excuse to spend more time together. I also like the fact that you have a strategy 😀
      I started my wine tastes with PG’s but then one time I think I had one that was way too cold and it basically gave me brain freeze, so it has taken me a while to get back to whites. I started drinking beer with Alex, so since I wasn’t drinking whites…thus the beer taste grew.

      July 23, 2014 at 1:42 pm
  • Reply Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles

    OMG that skillet dessert!!! I haven’t had mortadella before and I don’t drink beer at all, so no dice there either. My favorite summer drink is a glass of ice cold reisling or white sangria…and I couldn’t decided between hummus and guacamole, life couldn’t exist without both of them, they are a weekly staple in our house!
    Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles recently posted…Slowing going crazy & why I’m an awful Group Fitness ParticipantMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 11:57 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I like your refusal to pick–like children,lol. I like a lighter, less sweet reisling (though there are some that are amazing) and white sangria, when done right, oh, it is just summer in a glass. That gets you drunk (thumbs up)

      July 23, 2014 at 1:43 pm
  • Reply Sarah Rosenblatt

    Oh my god, I’m just about dying reading about that tiramisu geltao. DYING. That sounds so amazing, nevermind all the other deliciousness piled on top. We just got an ice cream maker, I might have to try to recreate…

    July 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Let me know if you do. I heard from one site that the tiramisu was frozen, from another that it was freeze dried. I hope it isn’t a liquid nitrogen thing, otherwise I might have to invest.

      July 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply Earl-Leigh

    It was a bad idea to read this post during my lunch break. *throws lunch in the trash* I would like the pizza, sundae and all the drinks please.
    Earl-Leigh recently posted…My Life Lately: GlitterMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 12:25 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You lunch just made a very sad face. Go tell it you are sorry, haha. And let’s go!

      July 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm
  • Reply Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    That burger looks EPIC! You can’t beat a good burger.
    Oh, and guacamole every time. I love hummus, but guacamole still wins. Although, I do love a combo of the two.
    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy recently posted…3 Reasons Why You Should Listen To Music When You WorkoutMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That burger really was quite good. Sidedoor and D4 have the better ones, though. But yeah, no complaints here!

      July 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm
  • Reply Michael Anderson

    Beefeater is my choice for about 30 years now (when I went to college the drinking age was just switching from 18 to 21 around the country, different time) … had a friend who liked it, and another who was a Tanqueray fan … but I got hooked on the Beefeater flavor way back, and since it is something we don’t do often … I stick with it.
    Michael Anderson recently posted…Running, Blogging and Life – Continuous Trust FallMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hey, whatever works for you! It just is too grassy/floral for my palate

      July 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm
  • Reply Courtney @RunningforCupcakes

    I want to try the shaved asparagus, the tomato sauce, the magic sundae, the cookie skillet, and last but not least the tangerine wheat. I am extremely jealous of all your delicious eats, I need to come visit and eat all the food with you!
    Courtney @RunningforCupcakes recently posted…What’s Holding You Back?My Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Yes. YES YOU DO. Yeah, we got really lucky when we went out the past week and a half. I’m hoping for even better stuff this weekend while we are away!

      July 23, 2014 at 4:56 pm
  • Reply Allison @ Life's a Bowl

    I could go for a strong summer drink or even more, a big glass of wine right now. Only 4 MORE MONTHS! It’s funny, I’ve always enjoyed wine, but never craved it. Now that I can’t have it, I crave it even more… We always want what we can’t have 😛 #pregnancyproblems
    Allison @ Life’s a Bowl recently posted…WIAW: Spinach Stuffed ShellsMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Oh, I can’t even imagine what you are dealing with. I’m not even that big of a drinker, but there is just something so….nice about sips of a crisp summer beverage. And pregnancy plays weird tricks on your brain–I can’t WAIT to see what happens to me! I’ve already told Alex to be terrified!

      July 23, 2014 at 4:57 pm
  • Reply Jenni @ Fitzala

    Ha! We are the same. I get something with meat and vegetables, my husband gets the burger with fries and cheese. Atleast Alex will eat hummus. Geoff thinks it’s too healthy 😉

    The short rib ravioli looks amazing though. I LOVE PASTA SAUCE.

    Not had a shandy or tangerine wheat beer. I think my favorite summer drink is a margarita+salt though it can be hard to find good ones that aren’t too sugary!
    Jenni @ Fitzala recently posted…Strength training at home: a no equipment workout for you!My Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think that by the end of the meals, Alex and I have both eaten 80% our own food, 20% of the others, but it does typically start out that way! The waiter was like, oh, that’s too healthy (about my tuna wrap) and I was like, oh, those fries are only partially for him. And then I had majority stock of a cookie. that he ordered.
      I have been known to eat tomato sauces with a spoon. No pasta.
      And YES to a margarita, on the rocks, with salt. I’ve gotten to the point that I just order a tequila (thank you, working at a mexican restaurant for teaching me about tequila) with soda water and lime. And then steal alex’s salt. You see a pattern there…?

      July 23, 2014 at 5:03 pm
  • Reply Mo (@rushourunner)

    Tiramisu gelato sounds incredible, especially because it has pieces of the tiramisu in it. OMG WANT NOW.
    Mo (@rushourunner) recently posted…rock n roll chicago half marathon RRMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 6:19 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      LETS GO

      July 24, 2014 at 10:21 am
  • Reply Katie @glutes and ladders

    Oh my lorddd, you always eat the best food! When I was in Mexico last week, I had the BEST mango margarita ever. It was so fresh and tasty and I don’t even like margaritas.

    July 23, 2014 at 7:01 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Welcome back girl! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures! Mexican drinks make you believers in things that you never thought you would be a believer in. Plus, the atmosphere doesn’t hurt lol

      July 24, 2014 at 10:22 am
  • Reply Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes

    All I can say is OMG to that skillet cookie….yes please! drooling over here.
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…{Guest Post}–Nicole from My Fit Family: DreamMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 8:05 pm
  • Reply Lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    Everything looks so tasty…..especially the dessert. Who doesnt love a skillet cookie? Although I prefer a pino over a cab.

    July 23, 2014 at 8:07 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I used to be a pinot all the way girl–when they are good, they are AMAZING. So layered and subtle, but so approachable as well. We also like Montepulciano d’abruzzo wines, kind of a combination of a pinot and cab.

      July 24, 2014 at 10:24 am
  • Reply Ursula

    Why does food look so much better with flowers in it?! and why oh why have I never made a skillet cookie before. Bubbling chocolate??? Stop I’m drooling
    Ursula recently posted…Why I Blog: The Writing Process TourMy Profile

    July 23, 2014 at 10:05 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Especially edible flowers 😀 you know that I ate it. Literally, the skillet smelled like fondue. AMAZING

      July 24, 2014 at 10:24 am
  • Reply Foodlyfe Tour: River Roast Chicago #WIAW - Suzlyfe

    […] with a yellow drink and a lemon wedge. I thought it was quite good, but I like Cicchetti’s Shandy better. Very refreshing though, and nice and light on the palate. A great summer drink, as a good […]

    August 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
  • Reply Cicchetti and GF Triple Chocolate Protein Muffins - Suzlyfe

    […] as he had to work) when to everyone’s favorite small plates place, Cicchetti (posts here and here). I’m going to cover it pretty quickly because we got several repeat dishes, which were just […]

    August 27, 2014 at 12:26 pm
  • Reply Best Thin Crust Pizza (Freezer, Recipes, Chicago)

    […] Cicchetti’s Flatbread. Whatever it is, it will be good. They make baloney (gourmet baloney, at least), spinach, asparagus, ricotta, and pepperocini work. That is magic, folks. And every bite was incredible. […]

    October 27, 2014 at 2:22 pm
  • Reply Sushi, Fried Chicken, Waffles, Brunch #WIAW - Suzlyfe

    […] to get out of the apartment and get some fresh air. So we headed to Bellwether, site of the famous cookie skillet pigout. And Bellwether won […]

    November 19, 2014 at 5:56 am
  • Reply Heather Foust

    I get something with meat and vegetables, my husband gets the burger with fries and cheese. Atleast Alex will eat hummus. Geoff thinks it’s too healthy The short rib ravioli looks amazing though. I LOVE PASTA SAUCE.

    June 29, 2015 at 6:16 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well that is just rude! We call it being the angel and the devil with our ordering. ANd ALLLL THE PAASTA SAUCE

      June 29, 2015 at 6:25 am

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