Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides: Phil Rubino's Wrigleyville
Editor's Note: Every other week we like to bring you another installment of Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides, which detail the places local chefs and food writers actually frequent in their on 'hoods. Last time, Time Out's Julia Kramer gave us a rundown of Wicker Park (with just a little bit of Bucktown thrown in for good measure). This week, Phil Rubino, the new chef de cuisine at Moderno, walks us through Wrigleyville.
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Phil Rubino has traveled a heck of a journey through the Chicago dining scene. He worked as sous chef at BIN 36 before a stint as chef de cuisine at Bin Wine Cafe in Wicker Park. But he's also made appearances at Spiaggia, L2O, and Cafe des Architectes. And let's not forget his short post as The Black Sheep's chef de cuisine, which closed as quickly as it opened. (Phil and pastry chef Sarah Jordan luckily both left the restaurant before the closing.) Now he's working with chef John des Rosiers as chef de cuisine at Moderno, the newly opened modern Italian restaurant in Highland Park.
But Phil is a Wrigleyville guy through and through. He and his wife live just a couple blocks from the park, and they're both die hard Cubs fans. They've lived there for two and a half years and he just can't see ever leaving the 'hood. Wrigleyville often gets a bad rap for its throes of sports bars and co-eds, so it was refreshing to get a take on the area from someone who truly appreciates living there.
Sandwich: Lucky's Sandwich Co. on Clark. I get the pastrami and love how they load it with slaw and fries and mayo. The slaw is great, meat is good, and they're huge.
Bar: Guthrie's Tavern near Addison and Southport. Small neighborhood bar. Cool decore, eclectic ceiling tiles. Quiet, where you can order food from nearby and have it delivered to the bar. People there are looking for good conversation, and it's where I'll go with my wife after a long night of work.
Dinner Spot: Tango Sur. Great beef, always cooked right. Really simple, down to earth. Salads are good, great for BYOB. We try to get twice a month.
Essential neighborhood spot: Murphy's Bleachers. The epitome of the Cubs. Love it or hate it, for anybody who wants to get that Wrigley experience outside of the gates, it's all about Murphy's bleachers.
Pizza: D'Agostino's. Right next door to my house, super convenient. Thin crust all the way. Will eat any kind of pizza they make—I'm a pizza freak. You can put anything on a pizza, and I'll eat it.
Burger: Haven't had a burger in the hood that stands out. DMK has a good burger, but that's not really in the 'hood. If anybody can tell me where to get a great plain cheeseburger with nothing fancy, I'd love a recommendation.
Falafel: Sadly, not in Wrigleyville.
Date night: Wrigley Field. When Paul McCartney was here last summer my wife and I just walked around the ballpark just so we could listen when Paul played. That on its own would have made us happy, but for kicks I went up to the ticket booth and asked if they had any tickets left. Somehow, they did. Four of them. We got two and took our seats about thirty minutes into the set. He played until midnight and I mean, how could you top that? Ball game or concert or even a stroll, it's the best.
Pastry/Dessert: Sensational Bites near Tango Sur. We stumbled upon it one night when I was craving an oreo blizzard from DQ. They had an oreo cupcake and it was killer. The variety is cool like that—like the s'more cupcake, too—but they have classics like vanilla and chocolate, too. And the staff is great.
Bread: Nothing around that I know of.
Coffee: Julius Meinl. My wife goes there a lot before work.
Breakfast/Brunch: We cook breakfast at home a lot, but we love Meinl for breakfast, too. We'll go early on Sunday or when she has a day off. Their croissants and pastries are really great. Also love Ann Sather's for a good pancake breakfast, and their cinnamon rolls of course.
Dive: Guthrie's. It's the best.