In a city like Chicago, there’s comfort in ritual. Here, FOOD & WINE Best New Chef Stephanie Izard of The Girl & the Goat, Little Goat and Duck Duck Goat reveals the places she just can’t quit.
Piece Brewery & Pizzeria
Chicago’s pizza traditions run toward deep dish, but this Wicker Park spot favors New Haven-style pies. Owner Bill Jacobs is a zealot for the style, characterized by its irregular shape and chewy, medium-weight crust, blistered in a gas oven. For Stephanie and Gary, Piece is the go-to pizzeria for takeout at home, and she also orders 10 pies for her staff every Sunday. But the relationship runs even deeper than fandom. Stephanie has participated in a number of charitable collaborations with the shop, creating limited-edition pies whose sales benefit Pilot Light—an organization dedicated to bringing food education into public schools. Last year, she developed a goat chili pie with pickled peppers and cheddar; this year’s pie features Sichuan sausage, inspired by her Chinese menu at Duck Duck Goat. Piece Brewery & Pizzeria: 1927 W North Ave, Chicago; 773-772-4422; piecechicago.com
Chicago may be far away from the low-and-slow traditions of the American south, but you wouldn’t know it when chef Charlie McKenna is feeding you. The South Carolina native applies lessons learned first at the elbow of his grandmother—the eponymous Lillie—and later picked up along the competitive barbecue circuit to a menu that hits all right the smoke-kissed notes. Pulled pork and hot links; glazed ribs and beef tri-tip—there’s a lot to love at the French Market spinoff and the Bucktown original, where Stephanie and her husband, a longtime friend of Charlie’s, first met. “Gary was a manager working at the bar at the time,” she says. “We had our rehearsal dinner at Lillie’s and Charlie made a whole hog.” 1856 W North Ave, Chicago; 773-772-5500; 131 N Clinton St, Chicago; 773-772-5500; lilliesq.com
Haymarket Pub & Brewery
The quintessential Chicago brewpub, this massive beer-lover’s complex produces a robust collection of its own pilsners, pale ales and stouts on-site, hosts live music and performances and serves a gut-busting lineup of house-made sausages and other bar snacks late into the night. It’s no wonder that this place is a veritable clubhouse for off-the-clock chefs. “Haymarket opened around the same time as Girl & the Goat and our entire staff are regulars there,” says Stephanie. She and Gary, who works in the beer industry, collaborate with Haymarket brewers to develop their own beers for the restaurants. One edition featured rhubarb juice; another was made with strawberries and fennel. “We had our after-after party for our wedding at Haymarket; apparently I was dancing up on the bar in my wedding dress.” Haymarket Pub & Brewery: 737 W Randolph St, Chicago; 312-638-0700; haymarketbrewing.com
GT Fish & Oyster
Stephanie keeps it in the Boka Restaurant Group family when she visits chef Giuseppe Tentori’s seafood mainstay in River North. Like Stephanie, Tentori was a Food & Wine Best New Chef years ago, and he’s upheld those standards ever since. His menu spans international coastal traditions, from Italian-leaning pasta with clams, mussels and uni-tomato sauce, to American lobster rolls and Gulf-style po' boys. Stephanie’s move at GT: The blow-out seafood tower, featuring a two-pound lobster along with king and snow crabs, shrimp, mussels, oysters, clams and scallop ceviche. “Gary and I came here for his birthday last year, and I asked them to put a huge bowl of melted butter right in front of him,” she remembers. GT Fish & Oyster: 531 N Wells St, Chicago; 312-929-3501; gtoyster.com