Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Family Eats on the Block

After a mildly stressful day of apartment hunting in the lesser parts of Lakeview and Lincoln Park, my future roommate Laurel and I found ourselves wandering down Belmont this evening, in search of some warm comfort food. With lists of pros and cons and room sizes battering at our brains, the only two things we really wanted at that very moment were food and beer. Bracing against the cold, dark, biting March rain, we shuffled down the street, looking for a place where we could get both. Duck Walk: BYOB -- out. Ann Sather: only serves breakfast & lunch -- out. Clarkes: no beer -- out (update: Amy has informed me that Clarkes actually does serve beer. Oops.). Asha: BYOB -- out. But then, up around the corner on Sheffield, a friendly sign seemed to wave hello: Leona's.

Leona's has been on "my to-try list" for a while -- it always looked like a cozy, family-oriented neighborhood spot. In fact, it reminded me of one of my very favorite neighborhood family restaurant chains-- Gregg's (in Rhode Island-- home of the best chicken parm and Heath Bar Crunch Cake EVER).

However, I wondered, would the food at Leona's measure up? With places like this, you never really know. Exhibit one: Dave's Italian Kitchen in Evanston. Warm and friendly? Yes. Family-oriented? Yes. Food? Cheap, but crap-pay. (Honestly, who puts red bell pepper in their alfredo sauce? Awful.)

Luckily, as far as comfort food goes, Leona's food was pretty good... but it was more than a bit overpriced. The Italian-slanting menu offers up standard-par pasta, pizza, and lasagna, but also several varieties of hearty American favorites, including burgers and big fat sandwiches -- all alongside a bellywarming assortment of sides. Laurel & I decided to split a hulking Caesar Avacado Veggie Wrap with potato wedges and pesto rotini on the side.


The potato wedges were what I expected, and the pesto rotini was tasty-- but cold. The wrap was huge- definitely a meal for two, but was a little dominated by giant chunks of avacado. Now don't get me wrong, I like avacado, but only really in the way I like peanut butter: in moderation. I would never stick a whole spoonful of peanut butter in my mouth, just as I would never just take a bite out of an avacado. Just too much at once. However, the meal did have one redeeming touch-- every dish at Leona's comes with a side of their own apple crisp. Mmmmm. Overall, Leona's gets an A for the homey, inviting, family-friendly atmosphere... but only a B for the standard but overpriced good.

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