Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just for my Oak Park readers: my favorite new places

I'm keeping my dollars in the neighborhood with these great businesses that I've been dying to plug.

Shoplifting with Permission beat me to the punch with her review of Oh Joy!, the new kids' consignment shop on Oak Park Avenue, just north of the expressway. A couple of months ago I hauled three wagonloads of clothes, toys and baby gear to the former cigar store (and yes, it still smells a little stale). With my store credit now over $60, I finally spent a little of it on two adorable long-sleeve knit dresses for Z. I'd asked her during Old Navy's $7 denim sale last weekend if she'd wear jeans this year and she said "no, only soft pants and dresses." So dresses from the consignment shop (and grandparents) it shall be.

Sushi's an expensive option for a family dinner (since we all know how taking kids to restaurants is no fun), but I've enjoyed the sushi, sashimi and maki at Sushi House, which opened on Lake Street this spring. Z still asks when we can go back and get the "sushi chicken" (actually teriyaki chicken) in the kids' bento box.

The Marion Street Cheese Market moved one block south from its original location on the Marion Street Court to a much larger space. Now, in addition to fancy cheeses, the market boasts locally grown fruits and vegetables, a meats counter, a wine bar and a full cafe. I've sampled the expensive cheeses and treated myself to some gourmet peanut butter, but I'm waiting for a date night to eat in the cafe. Again, so not worth it with kids.

Fine dining fans of the shuttered La Piazza will find a lot to like on the menu at Chef Gaetano's new eatery, Gaetano's. It's a little farther west on Madison Avenue in Forest Park, and the location is smaller and louder than the first, but the food is still amazing.

We're regulars at Hole in the Wall and the expanded Brown Cow ice cream parlor in Forest Park, but we've introduced gelato and Italian ice into our frozen treat repertoire with handscooped pints from Freddy's in Cicero and the brand-new gelateria Paciugo in Forest Park. A small seems a little pricey at over $3, but you get up to three flavors and unlimited tastes before you decide. I had sea salt caramel and dark chocolate, but the tantalizing olive oil and black pepper almost made it into my bowl.

Finally, we'll be first in line at Trader Joe's when their new location opens at Harlem & Ontario this fall. All the doubters can relax now; I saw Oak Park listed under "coming soon" on my latest email from Trader Joe's.