Joia is one of the few vegetarian restaurants in town, and what a vegetarian restaurant it is! The chef has managed to create fantastic and ... More
Joia is one of the few vegetarian restaurants in town, and what a vegetarian restaurant it is! The chef has managed to create fantastic and imaginative recipes such as Couscous with Taccole and Saffron. The setting is upscale and contemporary, a far cry from the typical earthy vegetarian cafe.
We are also Chicagoans and were hoping to enjoy this upscale contemporary Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant that we’d read about. Most of the food was also gluten and/or dairy-free. Lots of foam (which winds up looklng like spit-on-a-plate) and just weird stuff like ravioli sans pasta. Our first course, which was the best of the night, consisted of slices of watermelon that had been compressed to be quite thin, most of the juice gone and the texture slimy, rather like lox, topped with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and razor thin slices of Parmageano Reggiano. It was the only course I finished.
Joia’s Excecutive Chef, Pietro Leeman is very experimental with the food but his approach to manipulating food can’t touch Chicago’s Alinea (I am so spoiled!). Unlike Alinea’s visionary Executive Chef, Grant Akatz, who is all about using technology to enhance the flavor of food, Leeman’s odd flavor combinations and unusual preparations seemed to show up on our plates, not because they were particularly delicious, but simply because he had figured out how to do something that no one else had. He allowed us to see that Akatz is a truly unmatched brilliant chef.
Joia: Michelin service; Michelin prices, but hardly Michelin quality food.
The food was seasonally fresh, creative, fun and delicious. The waitstaff was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. The overall playfulness of the presentations made the evening very memorable. It was one of the most expensive meals we had in our two weeks in Italy, but we are still talking about it. Although we live in Chicago, we have not yet been to Grant Achatz' Alinea; since going to Joia, it is definitely now a priority. We understand.
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