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Monday, July 25, 2011

Yummy: Sea Ranch Sushi and Groceries

This sushi restaurant supplies diners with all the ingredients necessary to go home and create their very own sushi dinner, but diners still pack the place for the delicious noodle and sushi dishes created by the efficient staff.

Check out the slide show below to see what my family ate on a recent visit to Sea Ranch and what we brought home to eat later.

Items I highly recommend you purchase:
Dressing: The ginger carrot dressing is out of this world and like Dave’s Italian Mariana sauce can be put on a brick and eaten with cheer.
Fish: We tried a piece of sashimi grade salmon and it was soft and delicious on our homemade sushi, probably because the staff told us we had to eat the fish the same day it was purchased - good advice.
Dessert: We’re huge Pocky and Mochi fans for dessert and the grocery store has all kinds of flavors.

Cost: If we eat in, we spend about $8 per person per meal but if we shop and make dinner at home, we’re looking at about $6 per person per meal.

I highly recommend this sushi place for anyone looking to expand their palette and try some dishes at home, it’s a great store and the staff is friendly enough to talk you through some of the dishes you might be cooking later.

Sea Ranch
518 Dempster St.
Evanston, Illinois 60202
(847) 492-8340

Click here for a full slide show of totally awesome photos of Sea Ranch Sushi & Groceries

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Yummy: Dave’s Italian Kitchen

It was very important for my family to seek out a delicious and affordable family style Italian restaurant upon arriving in our new hometown, because Italian is our comfort food. Back in El Paso, House of Pizza was just up the street and at any point we could run a few blocks and eat amazing meatball sammys, anchovy and onion pizzas, amazing lasagna – you get the picture. So when we got to Evanston, we asked around for recommendations on yummy, family style Italian dining and everyone pointed to Dave’s on Chicago, which furthers my theory that people in Evanston are really bright.

You can count on spending about $10 per person for a good meal as most of the plates run $7-15. I can highly recommend the following dishes; spaghetti with meat sauce, eggplant parmesan, lasagna, any calzone on the menu and the Italian salad. Although I have only eaten at Dave’s twice, I eat off of other people’s plates at my table and I’ve tasted everything listed above.

Because I know how to make an amazing marinara sauce, I always seek out something more delicious than mine, and at Dave’s Italian Kitchen, they deliver on marinara. Just typing the word out is making the back of my tongue water. Why is it so divine? Dave’s marinara is chunky so there’s just enough texture to prevent the sauce from running all over your plate and away from the food it needs to be covering. Also, the sauce is perfectly salted leaving room for the flavors of tomatoes to be the primary taste. I have said this about queso fundido before, a good sauce can make a brick taste delicious and I have a hunch Dave’s marinara would make a brick pretty yummy.

The dining room is in the basement, dark and loud – the perfect environment for hunkering down in front of a big plate of lasagna and getting to work!

Dave’s is located at 1635 Chicago Ave. in downtown Evanston and is open seven days a week. Visit for hours of operation and directions.


Thank you for reading my new blog "Evanston Newbie", a project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Get There: The Purple line to Linden

Check out our youngest child riding the Purple line to Linden. And why is this worthy of a blog post? My children are totally new to the concept of riding on buses and trains and walking everywhere. They've both done an excellent job transitioning to this new means of transportation and so far are patient when waiting for trains, calm when mom puts them on the wrong train and occupied with reading material while taking a long ride.

We recently took the Metra Downtown to the Field Museum and the El home. The Metra was faster in that it only makes one stop before getting to the Ogilvey Station in Downtown, but then we had to take a bus to get to our destination, which added about 20 minutes to our trip and an extra $5. We took the El home and because the CTA shares fares, you can transfer from a bus to the El within 2.5 hours and pay a portion of the fare. The El is much closer to the Field Museum but takes more than 45 to get you to Evanston unless you can grab the Purple line, which we couldn't do because it was off hours. Do I have this right? And when is the CTA going to start running the Purple line express on the weekends, giving Evanstonians the option to get to Downtown Chicago quickly?

This critique cannot possibly be new and I'm very curious to learn more transportation tricks. What is the fastest way to get to Downtown Chicago from Dempster? What passes get you the best deals and where do you buy them? Maybe you can help me figure this all out by emailing me at

Lastly I have to give a shout out to the conductors, ticket takers, bus drivers out there in Chicagoland - you are the BEST. I have never met such friendly public transportation workers in an American city. On one recent bus ride we were actually reminded gently that our stop had come up and that we should get off the bus. Very classy indeed. Good job Chicago.

For your next trip, visit the CTA website at


Thank you for reading my new blog "Evanston Newbie", a recent project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Join: Evanston Art Center

The Evanston Art Center is the first arts organization our family joined in Evanston and at $50 a year for the family, it is totally affordable. In addition to hosting compelling events and providing dynamic art classes for all ages, the work we saw on our first visit was incredibly inspiring and interesting.

The photo above includes my children to give an idea of the scale of one of my favorite pieces in the show by Jesse Kate Harrod. An entire wall is dedicated to this work which is intricate, full of color and incredibly whimsical.

The images in the slide show below are all from the current show, CUT, on view June 5 to August 7, 2011. From the show press release: "Although the making of paper goes back to at least the 3rd century, the oldest surviving paper cut-out originated in 6th century China and has a long world-wide tradition in art that dates at least to the Middle Ages. Traditional collage, 2- and 3-dimensional cut paper forms, digital technology of “cutting”, “pasting” and "replicating", and dvd “action cartoons” of cut paper characters demonstrate only some of the contemporary techniques featured in “CUT". Every artist in the exhibition uses the technique of cutting as a starting point to achieve his or her unique artistic expression." Featured artists in this slide show include Jesse Kate Harrod, Doug Stapleton, Ling-An Fang, Richard Shipps, Mark Rospenda, Bruce Kresnoff, Helene Smith-Romer, Christophe Roberts, Susan Giles, Shawn Sheehy, Jang Soon Im, Brian Dettmer, and Sarah Steinwachs. For more information visit

Evanston Art Center

2603 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201
Mon - Thurs: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sun: 1 p.m.-4 p.m.


Thank you for reading my new blog "Evanston Newbie", a recent project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Yummy: Bennison's Bakery in Evanston

We finally made to the most recommended bakery on our "new bakeries to try out in Evanston" list - Bennison's on Davis street. We ordered our favorites; chocolate brownie without nuts, strawberry tart and lemon bar. Everything was crazy sweet, freshly made, affordable and delicious. Bennison's is best known for its traditional European bakery items and breads and we look forward to exploring the entire menu in upcoming visits. Thank you everyone who recommended this delicious bakery, keep the recommendations coming by sending me an email right now to

Bennison's Bakery is located at 1000 Davis Street, Evanston, IL 60201, (847) 328-9434

From the Bennison's website About Us page:

Bennison’s Bakery has been a North Shore institution since 1938, earning a reputation as a high quality full line bakery with emphasis on European style pastries, cookies, and custom decorated cakes.

Larry Bennison brought his bakin savvy to Evanston from Janesville, Wisconsin in 1938. His “Dairy State” roots led to high quality offerings in the bakery, made with cream, real butter, fresh buttermilk , and freshly cracked eggs. Guy Downer, who had worked for Standard Brands and sold coffee to Bennison's originally, purchased the bakery from the Bennison family in 1967 and took over operations, continuing on the traditions started by Larry Bennison and expanding the product line, while still maintaing the high quality that people had come to expect.

In 1975 Guy’s son Jory came aboard, learning the craft from his father and attending culinary school and classes to improve his skill, eventually achieving the rank of Certified Master Baker from the Retail Bakery Association. Jory then used this skill to not only increase the quality of the products Bennison's offers, but to also win the grand prize at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in Paris in 2005, establishing himself as one of the best bakers in the world.

Bennison’s Bakery is one of the few bakeries in the country to employ two Certified Master Bakers. Both Jory Downer and Efrain Tirado completed the training and testing required to obtain this certification, the highest level a baker can achieve. It ensures that both are at the top of their field, and that the products you get from Bennison’s will always be of the highest quality.

Visit for more information.


Thank you for reading my new blog "Evanston Newbie", a recent project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni

Monday, July 4, 2011

Evanston 4th of July Lakefront Fireworks

I hope all of you have a safe and fun 4th of July. This year our family gets to celebrate the holiday twice. Last night we went to the Wilmette fireworks event where my friend whipped up a very festive birthday cake for America, see photo above. Then tonight we are going to the beach in Evanston to watch more fireworks, this time over the water. I've heard parking in Evanston on the 4th is a total nightmare, so we will walk to all destinations today. Below is some information on how to join in the fun tonight in Evanston.

Evanston hosts an amazing lakefront fireworks show at 9:15 p.m. with a musical extravaganza broadcast on the radio at 90.5 FM.

Event Details from City of Evanston

The 2011 Theme is S.A.F.E.T.Y. — Sun And Fun in Evanston for Today's Youth (SAFETY)

Family sports events are held from 9AM to 12PM at Elks Park; Lincolnwood and Willard Schools; and Robert Crown Center, as well as from 10AM to 1PM at Fleetwood-Jourdain Center.

The finals of the citywide tennis tournament are held from 8AM to 4PM at Ackerman Park, Central St. at McDaniel. Applications will be available in May. Visit or call ECTA President Diana Harris at 847-869-7972.

The parade starts at 2PM at Central St. and Central Park Ave. and travels east on Central St. to Ryan Field at Ashland Ave.

The Palatine Concert Band performs from 7:30 to 9 PM at Dawes Park, Sheridan Rd. at Church St. At 9:15PM, spectacular fireworks will begin and are choreographed to music (90.5FM). Fireworks can be viewed from most lakefront parks and beaches.

Activities are provided by the Evanston Fourth of July Association, a non-profit organization of volunteers, which depends on contributions. To contribute or volunteer, or for more info. call 847-637-5236 or visit