Growing up, our dad would come home surprising us with cheese, meats (tons of prosciutto), ravioli, friggin cheese balls, arancini, olives and whatever else he was in the mood for. We could smell him the moment he walked in and would race to the kitchen which would, in no time, be filled with very hungry, very happy kids. We would literally fight over whatever was brought home on that particular day. I am sure his heart was so full watching all of us get full. Just in case you haven’t gathered by now, we are a bunch of loud mouthed Italian chicks with an affinity for fine wine, barn wood, mascara and…prosciutto! Lucky for you, if you live in/near Chicago or just happen to visit the greatest city in the world (yeah, I said it), you are now going to know where to get the best prosciutto ever.
Hold the phone, you don’t know what prosciutto is??? You will now! TSP took the blog on a prosciutto tour to the best spots in the city for the best prosciutto around. Oh, and we brought along the man who taught us everything we know about food and turtle necks. I can hear his voice in my head , “Did you think you were going to leave the house looking like that?” Things haven’t changed today, except for the fact that we have boobs and like to remind him of the fact that most woman do. That’s our dad, we affectionately refer to him as, The Knife.
First stop, Freddy’s Pizza in Cicero, Il.
Ugh. I can almost cry about this experience. Freddy’s has been around for as long as I can remember and it is a place that will forever remind me of Saturdays at home growing up. This quaint little corner market is jam packed with everything from homemade pizza and gelato, to pasta in every shape and imported goodies you don’t see at just any market. This is the real deal. When we arrived at Freddy’s for our tour, we felt like we were home again. Freddy’s to me is the epitome of family, tradition and heritage. This place is slammed every time I am there and this day was no exception. Anna and Joe pulled us to the side and jammed us between stacks of homemade bread and hanging meats and cheese. Heaven on earth if you ask me. The salami bread will blow your pants off by the way. If you haven’t experienced Italy, just go to Freddy’s. It’s a damn close second.
Freddy’s Pizza always delivers. Always. And they are so proud. They should be.
They put L.O.V.E, LOVE into everything they produce and it shows. Our favorite prosciutto from this spot was their own homemade prosciutto and then of course, the San Danielle, which is located in the extreme northeastern part of Italy and my dad’s all time fave. We also tried;
Prosciutto di Parma: Aged on the bone as well as off the bone.
Prosciutto di Parma Rotondo: “sweet prosciutto”.
Guanciale: This is the cheek of the pig. It is stronger than pancetta, delicate in texture. I loved it.
Pancetta: Salt cure and spiced with black pepper. I ate this raw.
Speck, dried sausage and soppresatta
On our next stop we went to Italy on steroids, we went to Eataly, Chicago.
As far as atmosphere is concerned, Eataly is crisp and bright and there is SO much to choose from. Eataly is a mecca for Italian food. This isn’t just dining, this is an actual experience. The old ESPN zone has been transformed into a modern day, multi level eatery that offers everything from fine dining Italian to handmade mozzarella, pizza, oysters, truffles, and SO MUCH MORE! Upon our arrival, we made our way to the Meat and Cheese counter aka Salumi and Formaggio and lets just say our sexy meat and cheese man had his way with us. What a show off!
We sampled paper thin slices of prosciutto from all over the map. SO MUCH FUN! The presentation of meats alone is impressive, but the variety was to another level.
Obviously, the options for prosciutto were endless and incredible, but then we got to try some meats from local spots like La Quercia in Iowa. There is something to be said for supporting the local fare, I did however have a laugh to myself watching our adorable butcher pass a piece of prosciutto made in Iowa to my dad. I was proud of the big guy for trying it, but being the Italian that he is, prosciutto comes from one place and one place only. Italy. I think his face says it all or perhaps it is saying, “Iowa my ass.”
I did however determine that I have a new favorite. He offered prosciutto Toscano and it was INCREDIBLE! I loved it! This particular prosciutto is aged on the bone with pancetta spices and cured a pinch longer than others. Apparently I have a thing for pancetta. We also tried:
Spilacchia- This is the front leg of prosciutto.
Parma: Aged for 24 months.
Parma: Aged 14 months. I absolutely loved this one.
San Danielle- My dad was sure to take some for the road.
San Danielle Dell’ Ava-Different family in San Danielle.
Eataly is a treat for everyone. Come down and make an afternoon out of it and be sure to wear your elastic-waisted pants. Your belly is definitely going to expand. Be sure to end on the main level and get the crepe stuffed with Nutella. Just another food I have an inappropriate relationship with.
Get out in your world, wherever that may be, try something different, ask questions, learn and then share that experience with someone you love.