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Next Week Is "Vesuvio Week" In Chicago. I Need Your Best Spots For Chicago's REAL Trademark Italian Dish. I'm Hitting Them All.

Mount Vesuvius is a somma-stratovolcano located on the Gulf of Naples in Campania, Italy, about 9 km (5.6 mi) east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is one of several volcanoes forming the Campanian volcanic arc. Vesuvius consists of a large cone partially encircled by the steep rim of a summit caldera, resulting from the collapse of an earlier, much higher structure.

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabiae, and several other settlements. The eruption ejected a cloud of stones, ashes and volcanic gases to a height of 33 km (21 mi), erupting molten rock and pulverized pumice at the rate of 6×105 cubic metres (7.8×105 cu yd) per second.[5] More than 1,000 people are thought to have died in the eruption, though the exact toll is unknown. The only surviving eyewitness account of the event consists of two letters by Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus

Picture this: a dish so robust, so flavorful, and so uniquely Chicago that it practically screams "Windy City" with every bite. 

That's Chicken Vesuvio. 

Before setting foot in this magnificent city, I had never heard of this culinary masterpiece. Most people from here don't realize how distinctly Chicago it is. You can definitely find it on a menu outside of the midwest here and there, but they almost always give a nod to Chicago when featuring it. I was hesitant to try it at first, not going to lie. Pretty much every Italian joint in the city you visit has their version of it on their menu. Truth be told, as a rookie, they all seemed very basic to me. But now? I'm head over heels, and I'm here to spread the love.

Let's get one thing straight—Chicken Vesuvio is as Chicago as deep-dish pizza, the Cubs, or the Sears Tower. This dish isn't just food; it's a piece of Chicago's heart, served on a platter. Originating right here in the city, Chicken Vesuvio is a testament to Chicago's rich culinary tradition, blending Italian-American flavors with Midwestern gusto. 

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Imagine tender, juicy chicken, (either boneless or bone in), perfectly roasted to golden perfection. Pair that with crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside potatoes, all basking in a garlicky, white wine sauce that's so good it should be illegal. And don't even get me started on the peas. Yes, peas. You might ask yourself, "why would they ruin a perfectly good sounding dish with those little vegetables?", but if you know you know. They work. Something about them, where they're not cooked to the point they're soggy, and they absorb the wine and butter just works, adding that pop of sweetness and color that ties everything together.

(Fun Fact - there are two theories as to how the dish got its name. The first is that when adding white wine to the olive oil can make the pan smoke like a volcano. (Vesuvius). The second is that the entrée was invented in the 1930s at a Chicago restaurant called Vesuvio. But this has never been substantiated. If anybody knows the real deal, please let me know.)

The first time I tried Chicken Vesuvio, I swear the skies parted and the culinary gods sang. I was at Harry Caray's restaurant in downtown River North for the first time, and was fucking stunned to learn that what I assumed to be a tourist trap serving standard bar food, actually featured a pretty legit Italian menu. Like a stunad I didn't trust them, so I figured I'd order something blasé, chicken with potatoes (and the peas). Chicken Vesuvio. 

Little did I know, as the waiter confirmed with a "great choice", that I was about to have what many consider to be the best Vesuvio in the entire city.

The dish arrived at my table, steam rising, aroma wafting, and I knew—I was about to fall in love. With each bite, I was transported. The flavors, the textures, the sheer joy of it all. It was more than a meal; it was an experience. I fucking love good food so indulge me as I hyperbolize this thing. Thanks.

Harry Caray's serves their version on the bone, which honestly might be my favorite because of how tender and moist the meat stays. 

It's really tough to beat. 

But I'm on a mission to try the best of the best we have all next week.

In a city famed for its food, Chicken Vesuvio still feels like a best-kept secret, and I'm here to shout its praises from the rooftops. It's a dish that embodies the spirit of Chicago: unpretentious, hearty, and utterly delicious. 

Drop your must-try's for me in the comments below or fire them at me on Twitter. I'll have a full report back next week. 

p.s. - shout out La Scarola and Armando

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p.p.s. - and the wolfman