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10 Faves We Return to Again and Again

BY Julie Chernoff and Laura Hine | June 28, 2017 | Feature National

The 40 finest things happening on the North Shore food scene right now.
Burrata from Bobby's Deerfield

1 Abigail’s American Bistro
Open since 2009, this small neighborhood boîte still packs them in. We never tire of chef and owner Michael Paulsen’s inventive seasonal comfort food; the menu is filled with craveable gems (we see you, polenta fries with Parmesan) and healthy-ish veggie options (flash-fried Brussels sprouts with fish-sauce caramel and peanuts). Nothing feels quite as indulgent as the richly textured duck confit salad on frisee with bacon, poached egg, honey onions and frites. Save room for the storied sticky toffee pudding cake, and chase it down with a peaty scotch, neat, because you’re among friends. 493 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park

2 Ballaro
Highland Park natives and lifelong pals Josh Kaplan and Mark Newman didn’t have to venture far up the road to find their dream location. Here, the evocative flavors of Italy combine with local Midwestern ingredients to provide the inspiration for Newman’s housemade pastas (the Roman-style bucatini carbonara is particularly lush) and pizzas (opt for the housemade sausage with fennel pollen and pickled fennel). Kaplan’s beefy wine list is justifiably weighted toward Italian bottles, and with 15 wines by the glass, there’s always something new to try. Abbondanza! 214 Green Bay Road, Highwood

3 Bobby’s Deerfield
Downtown Deerfield desperately needed a solid restaurant performer—an approachable American-style bistro with good food, a talented bartender and a service-oriented staff who recognize a regular when they see one. It got all that and more in Bobby’s, where you’ll find a warm welcome and discover killer housemade salmon pastrami layered with herbed cream cheese and potato latkes; fine craft cocktails; a memorably tasty kale and quinoa salad (miraculous!); and chef Augie Arifi’s deft hand with Italian dishes. After one visit, it will become your neighborhood go-to place. 695 Deerfield Road, Deerfield

4 Boltwood
After stints at Spiaggia, Blackbird and The Publican, chef and owner Brian Huston brings it on home to Evanston with this market-driven spot, named for a wing of his beloved alma mater, Evanston Township High School. Keeping it in the family, his wife Chrissy Prieto runs the front of the house, and the service feels like a warm hug. No matter the seasonal preparation, the roasted half-chicken and whole turbot are not to be missed, and if you don’t order the crispy potatoes with garlic schmaltz, you’re a damn fool. Just looking out for you. 804 Davis St., Evanston

5 Di Pescara
This Lettuce Entertain You stalwart has been holding down the fine food fort at Northbrook Court for well over a decade. Chef and partner Mychael Bonner keeps it real with his modern take on traditional seafood and Italian dishes.
The ladies who lunch here just adore the grilled artichoke with lemon aioli, the sesame- and almond-crusted tilapia Milanese or the indulgent seafood chopped salad—of course, washed down with a glass of chilled rosé. When no one’s looking, they order the light-as-air housemade gnocchi with tomato vodka sauce for the table. Shhh! Don’t tell. 2124 Northbrook Court, Northbrook

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