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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, June 12

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Restaurant Mon May 21 2012

Aesthetic Italian at Due Lire

Living in Lincoln Square, one hardly wants for formidable dining options within easy walking distance -- but in the last few years since I've moved to the neighborhood, Italian cuisine seems to be missing a truly worthy representative in the area. Trattoria Trullo and La Bocca Della Verita, both on Lincoln Avenue, are both flatly fine options -- nothing fancy, nothing taste-bud numbingly amazing, but nothing that tastes like its major components couldn't have come out of a freezer either. Just solidly mediocre. And while the area boasts some outstanding pizza (Spacca Napoli what up!), sometimes you just want a bowl of noodles and red sauce -- and have it not taste like something you (or Chef Boyardee) put together on your own stove.

Due Lire opened on Lincoln a year or so ago, offering a classic Italian mix of appertivo, small plates, pastas, and mains, and while it took me a while to finally visit, I will gladly return when the pasta-craving strikes from now on. While the staff wavers a bit between charming and aggressive, and both dining room and back patio are cozy but nothing to write home about, the food is gorgeous.

No really, it's like, gallery-gorgeous. On a recent visit, our waitress talked us (easily) into the cheese and meat platter -- a wholly mainstream mix of grana padana, tallegio, pecorino, proscuitto, speck, and finocchiona. We placed our order, shrugged, and went back to our conversation, only to be stopped mid-sentence when the platter arrived, looking like it had been transposed directly from a Caravaggio painting. Dripping with honey and spicy apricot mostarda, oozing with figs and caper berries, with meats and cheese tangled over a half-moon of blushing melon, it was almost too pretty to eat. And then of course we devoured it and neglected to take a picture.

But everything at Due Lire seems similarly eye-catching -- composed without being structured, lovely in their simplicity, from the cheese fritters with duck ragu (like the world's most luxurious cheese curds), to the vivid beet and arugula salad with pops of vibrantly orange mandarin segments a dollop of white goat cheese, to the pea shoot and honeycomb crostini we wished we'd ordered after it arrived in front of our neighbors. The carrot-ricotta tortelloni with brown-butter sage sauce was elevated more by its flavors (particularly the earthy crunch of buttery marcona almonds on top) than its appearance, but it certainly didn't look bad.

It was, in short, one of the prettiest meals I've had in a while, and finally satisfied what's been a building craving of mine for classically simple Italian cooking in Lincoln Square.

Due Lire
4520 North Lincoln Ave.
(773) 275-7878

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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