Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pasta in the Parks (Highland and Wicker)

John des Rosiers talks a big game, and at times I've indeed wondered if talk was all he had going.  So it was with tempered expectations that I entered Moderno and ordered pretty much the simplest pasta imaginable - the classic cacio e pepe, or cheese and black pepper.  It flat out rocked.  Moderno uses house made stangozzi which are wonderfully chewy - perfect to me.  In a dish this simple where all the punch comes from black pepper, it darn well better be good pepper.  It was.  This had the aroma and taste of very fresh stuff that had been ground by hand with a mortar and pestle.  The cheese was salty and good, with a slight departure from tradition in the form of melting it atop the pasta.  It worked.

I liked Moderno so much that I'm disappointed that des Rosiers had thin enough skin to block me on Twitter when I joked about some typically delusional tweet of his that I can't even remember now.  Oh well, I guess I can hope that no one has shared my picture with his staff and that I might be able to sneak into his restaurant again someday.

Highland Park pasta was fantastic, but pasta in Wicker Park didn't work out well for me.  At Nando Milano Tratorria I ordered tagliatelle all'amatriciana, and it was a disaster.  The sauce featured some kind of housemade bacon that tasted like it had been soaking for a year in maple syrup.  The dish was sweet to the point of inedibility.  All wrong.

1850 2nd Street, Highland Park

Nando Milano
2113 W. Division


  1. I liked Moderno a lot and was hoping to not find out I was totally wrong from you. You and John should be pals, you're both bigger than reality. Can't we all just smoke a bong?

    Did you read Julia Kramer's Time Out review of that Nando place? I know, I know how you feel about TOC's reviews, but her review, which I summarized as "a mercy killing," will certainly support your thesis with a few other horror stories.

  2. I had seen that skewering by Kramer when you linked to it on grubstreet, but I must not have paid attention to the name of the place because it wasn't until I read your comment here that I realized I'd eaten at the same spot.

    I saw what happened to Foss when he engaged in online chatter about the suggestion in the last sentence of your first paragraph. I have no comment.