Friday, September 04, 2015

MOD Pizza Elmhurst Review

Last night we packed the kids up and went out to try Mod (or is it MOD?!?) Pizza on St. Charles Road near Route 83 in Elmhurst.  It is located in the same plaza as Total Hockey and Potbelly's on the south side of St. Charles.

Mod Pizza is best described as "The Chipotle of Pizza"; meaning you walk along the line with the pizza maker as they assemble your pie based on your choice of ingredients.  Nat and I both got the 'Mod size', which is the normal size, but they also have a kids size that is a bit smaller.

What's interesting is that DIRECTLY across the street from Mod is a newly opened PieFive Pizza - which, I think, is the exact same concept.  What happened with burgers three years ago (lots of burger places opened) and fro-yo two years ago (four fro-yo places opened in town!), appears to be happening with the quick-serve pizza concept.  We decided to try Mod first.  And it was pretty good - considering that they're just getting started with the restaurant.

The pizzas are one price - no matter how many toppings you pick.  That means....same price if you order a pie with sausage.  Or if you order one with sausage, bacon, pepperoni, garlic, peppers, etc.

Now...those of you pizza folks know that there is something of an efficient frontier in terms of the right number/amount of ingredients.  I think two or three plus the cheese is about the right amount.

Here's the line below.  They press the skins using a sheeter type of machine, then place the skin on top of a screen.  The paper below the screen is used to write your name/toppings on top.  There are a variety of sauces to pick from (red sauce, white sauce, garlic, etc) and plenty of ingredient choices.

It seems, however, that they haven't really localized the toppings to Chicago.  Mod is based out of Seattle and while for most places across the country, the topping choices they've laid out would normally be fine.  But here in the suburbs of Chicago?  I spotted two misses:

1.  The sausage looked ratty and certainly didn't have any fennel in it.  Source some local sausage, guys.  Please?
2.  They didn't offer giardiniera offered in the bar.  Come on!  You're right next to Potbelly's.  At least go right next door and pick up a jar and have it for folks.  I wouldn't have gotten it on my pie, but I see it more and more on pizzas around town and seems like a nice way to 'localize' the toppings a big.

I went with pepperoni, bacon, salt/pepper, crushed red pepper and oregano.  As you can see, there's also basil on my pie below.  This is one of the things I *really* liked about Mod.  They offered basil on the normal part of the line - which would get you cooked basil, but they also offer a series of 'finishes' that they can add as the pies come out of the oven.  I dress my pizzas at home with basil when they come out of the oven, so I went with that.  Loved it.  Nat got a bit more adventurous and went with a fig/balsamic glaze.  She liked it!

We also picked up a salad and I think that's going to be a big winner as this place grows.  It is a BIG metal bowl that you get to pick the same ingredients and build your own salad just like the pies.  They have feta at the end of the line, and for me?  Whenever there's feta at play in a salad, it is a tasty treat!

Nat and I liked our pizza and the Babe ate her entire four slice pie.  The Bird ate the cheese and pepperoni and salami off the top and moved on.

It wouldn't be a post here on the blog about pizza without a pizza 'upskirt' photo.  Here's the bottom of the skins.  They did a nice job cooking the pizzas.  The crust was a good combo of crunchy and a little big dough-y.

They also have a wide variety of drinks including the standard fountain setup but also a bunch of teas/lemonades that were quite tasty.

It wasn't super cheap, but it was a nice experience and we'll be back.  Of course, we'll probably have to try PieFive across the street first, but MOD has set the bar high for us.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Aurelio's Now Selling Their Sausage Via Retail?!?

Whaaaatttt what!?!  After poking around on the forums, I just learned that Aurelio's (My pizza touch-stone) is now selling their sausage retail.  I went looking for more details and found this story from a few years ago that shows where they're selling it:
Aurelio’s has been manufacturing its famed sausage in Chicago’s South Suburbs for more than four decades. Aurelio’s only uses the highest quality, all natural ingredients. In addition to producing fresh sausage daily for its bestselling pizzas across every Aurelio’s location, in 2010, the company began selling the sausage links to over 70 independent grocery stores throughout the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, including Walt’s, Stack and Van Til, Berkots, Ultra foods, FreshLine Foods, Fairway foods, Rio Valley Market, Express Wholesale Grocers, Mario’s Market West, Central Market, Edmar Foods, Spring Valley Supermarket, Fair Share Fine Foods, Halsted Foods, Wiseway Food Center, Super Save, El Ray Foods and Town and Country Foods.
A few of those places (Walt's and Berkots) are right by my folks' place.

If they're still selling this stuff, I'm going to have to have my Mom and Dad 'mule' me up some of these sausages.

I've decided to try to take on an Aurelio's clone and removing one of the variables (the meat) makes things a bit easier.  Still have to get the right pans (cutter pans) and work on the dough formulation, but Fall is coming soon and that means one thing in our house:  pizza-making season!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

'Restaurant Rescue' for 100 South Chop House in Elmhurst?

I spotted these booths laying on the sidewalk outside of 100 South Chop House and Grill this morning.  Coupled with the re-doing of the writing on the black awnings on the place has me wondering if they're doing one of those 'restaurant/bar rescues' where experts come in and overhaul the place and put in a new look/feel for restaurants.

Have to admit...I've NEVER been in 100 South.  I also didn't think it wasn't in any trouble in terms of people patronizing the place.  So, I didn't think they'd *need* one of those 'rescues', right?  My sister and my nephew love the place.  I think they sit at the bar and love the service and food.  Never been in there.  Just doesn't look like the type of place that we'd spend time in.   I'm probably wrong!  But, now with - what looks like - a new set of booths and furniture in the restaurant, maybe we need to visit?

Does anyone know?  Was this taped for one of those 'rescue' shows?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

View From The New Wrigley Bleachers

I went to the dump that is known as Wrigley Field last night with some good friends.  I think this was the second time I've been in the bleachers, but I can't totally recall.  Have to was pretty fun.
Couldn't pay much attention to the game (which kinda explains why the Bleachers are such a party normally, right?), but I did 'hoss down an absolutely delicious Hot Doug's polish sausage called the 'Carmen Fanzone'.  I wasn't ever able to get to Hot Doug's before they closed, so this was a really nice treat!

The Tribune describes the sausages thusly:
Named for former Cubs players, the lineup consists of the Carmen Fanzone (spicy Vienna Beef polish sausage with brown mustard and caramelized onions), the Rick Reuschel (pork sausage with chipotle mustard and pepper jack cheese) and the Dave Kingman (bacon cheeseburger sausage with cola-barbecue sauce and sharp cheddar).
The improvements they've made to the park are quite dramatic and really quite tasteful.  All the advertising that is now present in the park is mono-color (white letters/branding) and the bleachers have a lot of room to roam.   Nat wants to take the kids to Wrigley, and I'll likely have to cave and saddle the kids up and drive to the mess that is Lakeview on a Cubs game day.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The York Building - Coming To The Old Plass Location On York

This morning, on my walk to the train, I spotted this rendering that is up on the windows of the old Plass store on York Street.  It shows a three-story mixed-use building and has an entry on the 'public walkway' to the north of the existing Plass building with an entrance for something called "York Condominiums".

I covered the building back in February when they took the asbestos out of the first floor here on the blog.

It looks to have a terraced elevation with the second and third floors receding backwards - which I think will help with the street presence.  I am, a bit bummed that they're going to be ripping down the Plass building - along with the sign.  Take a look at this post that shows the sign and the building.

I know that government's role isn't to dictate to property owners what they can/should do with their property, but as the Elmhurst City Centre continues to evolve, I think we'll wish we had *more* of the old buildings that came from a previous generation.

At the same time, we have to balance the need to profit for business people along with preservation and community impact.  Does this constitute the best/highest use?  I'm not sure.  But, having more retail on York along with more residents in the core of the downtown (with condos), I'm going to say that I land on the 'support' side of the spectrum on this project.

The timeline?  It says that this thing will be coming in Spring 2016.  That's fast.  That's good!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Costco Christmas Creep - Hits In August 2015

Take a good look, America.  That right there is Christmas 'stuff' showing up in Costco in Oak Brook, Illinois in August.  Yes....August.

This isn't the first time Costco has gone out in August for Christmas.  Back in 2013, I posted some photos from August.  Same in 2012.

You'll hear lots of folks belly-ache about 'Christmas Creep', but I'm not one of them.  Bring it on. I LOVE Christmas.  I love everything about Christmas and having these retailers get ahead of Christmas by booking some revenue in Q3 of their year, than I'm totally ok with it.

We didn't buy anything, but don't think I wasn't tempted.  Can't wait for Menards to toss out the Halloween stuff and bring in the Christmas stuff.  Let's go.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Inflatable Halloween Train from Menards

The Babe *soooo* wanted the Halloween scary train from Menards.  She was like, "Daddy!  Take my picture by the train!"

Alas...this is NOT the year for it as we're in transition between homes and stuff.  Hate to disappoint her, but....maybe next year?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Edelman's Culture Statement

Spotted this in the hallway of the Edelman Chicago Office.  I've worked at a few very special places in my career and one of the things that tie those places together is that in each case, the powers--that-be have done far  *more* than simply paid lip service to cultivating a strong, unique culture.  They lived it.

While the business results and the 'setting' (like what the office looks like) are important, the concept of a culture is far more important in recruiting and retaining the brightest minds in the world.  I'm excited everyday about the people and the challenges my team is tackling.  Onward.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thanks, Disney! Star Wars Emoji App Available On Android

It was just a week ago that I was moaning about how Disney ships a ton of iOS apps and very few Android ones - or at least ones of the same quality.

Well, well, well.  Guess what showed up in my inbox today?  This note about a new Star Wars app that is - huzzah! - available on both iOS and Google Play at the same time.

Downloaded.  Let's see what's doing with this thing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared - Art @ York in September

I spotted this poster for 'The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared" outside the York Theatre this morning.  This is the September showing of the monthly "Art @ The York" series.   I've covered past screenings on the blog here and here.

Here's the synopsis from the York's site.
Based on the internationally best-selling novel by Jonas Jonasson, the unlikely story of a 100-year-old man who decides it's not too late to start over. For most people it would be the adventure of a lifetime, but Allan Karlsson's unexpected journey is not his first. For a century he's made the world uncertain, and now he is on the loose again.


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