My husband and I are devout fans of Anthony Bourdain’s international dining recommendations, from “No Reservations” to “Parts Unknown.” On our recent honeymoon to France, the only dinner reservation we made, part of an effort to follow our noses and locals’ suggestions, was a Lyon brasserie featured in an episode of “Parts Unknown.”
So, when my husband showed me a snippet from “No Reservations” of a small, living room of a restaurant in Morton Grove called Burt’s Place, I took Bourdain’s endorsement with a tablespoon of salt. “Whatever this is, I like it,” the native New Yorker said, the Food Network star’s stamp of approval. My husband also happens to be the editor of the Morton Grove Champion newspaper, and has followed stories about the restaurant and eccentric owner/head chef, Burt, over the years. Plus, it’s been written up in countless publications, including Saveur, Travel + Leisure and the Chicago Tribune,
In addition to decor reminiscent of your grandparents’ living room frozen in the late 1960s, here’s where this restaurant is charmingly (if also stubbornly) different: Burt’s rarely accepts walk-ins, and they encourage reservations no later than the day before you wish to dine, and by phone only. They’ll also request your pizza (and appetizer) order with your reservation, because they shop for precisely the ingredients they need for each day. Now that’s fresh.
What we ate: When reserving our table the day before, we chose a medium (12″ in diameter, plenty for two) sausage, spinach and mixed bell pepper pizza. Where does one start in describing the perfect balance of dense doughiness with the pleasant surprise of an occasional crunch of caramelized crust, and the just-right amount of fresh oregano and basil-tinged sauce? I’m fooddreaming now, so I think I’ve done the trick. And the ingredients? They couldn’t have tasted fresher, right down to the basic but delightful antipasto salad.
What we drank: Similar to your grandparents’ house, the alcohol selection is limited. Two choices of wine – one red and one white – but a decent array of about a dozen beers. He had a Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Lager that matched the richness and multi-layered flavors of the pizza, and I the Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc, a crisp, light, summer-y complement to the heaviness of the pie.
8541 Ferris Avenue
Morton Grove, IL 60053
Lunch served Wednesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Dinner served Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.