Chicago’s First-Ever Italian Beef Festival to Benefit Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation

CHICAGO (May 3, 2018) – It’s as Chicago as “Da Bears” and the “Machine” that ran the city for decades  – just a whole lot tastier. For uninitiated foodies, an Italian beef is a sandwich comprised of thinly sliced beef served in its own gravy on Italian bread and served “hot” (with pickled vegetables a.k.a. giardiniera), “sweet” (with grilled bell peppers), and then either “dipped” or “baptized” in gravy – or served “dry” (with just a few spoonfuls of gravy).

The First Annual Italian Beef Festival™ will be emceed by Elliott Bambrough (host of Emmy-Award winning Chicago’s Best on WGN-TV), and will serve food from Chicago’s original Italian beef brands Al’s Beef, Buona and Mr. Beef. The event will be take place at the Revolution Brewing Tap Room (3340 N Kedzie Ave) on Saturday May 26th. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, a charity dedicated to fighting cancer.

There is much more to the Italian Beef Festival than just sampling the region’s finest Italian beef. Attendees will share tasting notes on the beer and beef, giving them a chance to win a “Passport to Beef”, which entitles the bearer to free beef for a year from each of Chicago’s Italian beef legends (yes, free beef for a full year from Al’s, Buona AND Mr. Beef!). Revelers can also compete in social sports, trivia games, beef-eating contests and more.

Tickets sell for $30, and include sandwiches from each of the three original beef brands paired with Revolution brews. The party is divided into two day-parts – from Noon until 3PM, and from 4PM until 7PM. In addition, every attendee for each of the two timeslots will be entered to win an Anthony Rizzo-autographed collectible bat or jersey.

Tickets for this event are on sale at


What: First Annual Italian Beef Festival with Al’s Beef, Buona and Mr. Beef
When: Saturday May 26 in two sessions: Noon-3PM and 4PM-7PM
Where: Revolution Brewing Tap Room, 3340 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago IL
Tickets: $30 at




Victory Tap Chicago Wins BaconFest First-Ever People’s Choice Award

Chef Joe Farina Takes Home The Golden Rasher Award For Friday Dinner

Chef Joe Farina of Victory Tap Chicago, the city’s Chicago-Italian restaurant, is pleased to announce their BaconFest Chicago Victory: the People’s Choice Golden Rasher Award for Friday. 2018 marks the first year in which BaconFest incorporated a People’s Choice Award, and Chef Joe, Chicago’s preeminent practitioner of Chicago-Italian cuisine, was the first to receive the award at this year’s event. The winning dish was Bacon Ricotta Agnolotti (Housemade Pasta, Bacon, Sage, Brown Butter).
To celebrate, Victory has added this incredible dish to their permanent menu! Try the BaconFest-winning Agnolotti at Victory Tap Chicago, 1416 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605. More information at

Bijans Bistro Announces 35th Anniversary Celebration

River North Mainstay Celebrates With “Good for the Neighborhood” Year of Giving With April Proceeds Benefitting 100 Club of Chicago

CHICAGO (April 2, 2018) – Bijans Bistro, the River North brunch-through-latenight dining and drinking mainstay, today announced its 35th anniversary and on-going celebration plans. The festivities will be a thank-you “tour” of sorts, one that salutes the neighborhood residents, tourists and some of the Chicago-based charities that make Chicago a great place to do business.

The festivities kick of on April 1st, with the launch of Bijans “Good for the Neighborhood” charitable giving series, which features month-long fundraising initiatives for a variety of local nonprofits. Each month, diners who order a specialty cocktail or opt to participate in a $35 prix fixe menu will raise money for a select charity. 20% of proceeds from prix fixe menu and specialty cocktail sales throughout a given month will be donated to the featured organization.

To date, the “Good for the Neighborhood” line-up includes:
• April – 100 Club of Chicago, supporting families of Chicago’s first responders who’ve lost their lives in the line of duty
• May – Imerman Angels, an organization that connects cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers to peers who’ve battled similar cancers at similar stages in their lives
• June – Anti-Cruelty Society, a River North charity with roots dating back to 1899, which provides compassionate care for any animal in need

Bijans is hosting its official anniversary party on June 7 from 4:30PM until 6:30PM. The ticketed fete will spill onto the restaurant’s patio, and will include plentiful passed appetizers, specialty drinks, 35-cent wines by the glass, raffles for participating “Good for the Neighborhood” charities, and more. In addition to the ticketed event, Bijans will feature $5 prosecco and free “Chef’s Choice” desserts for all diners throughout the day. The restaurant will also be handing out mystery thank-you envelopes containing gift certificates for everything from a free multicourse dinner for two (including a bottle of wine) to complimentary appetizers. Details about the event will be forthcoming.

The restaurant will also be paying tribute to their loyal customers and the industry insiders and cultural institutions that have been instrumental to their success. Look for more details in the coming months.

Bijans Bistro is known for its bustling dining room and friendly bar. The neighborhood establishment has been serving regulars, revelers, out-of-towners, celebrities and culinary industry insiders since 1983. The restaurant’s founder, Fred Chamanari, had an eclectic vision that sprang to life during years of formative change for the River North neighborhood. His restaurant attracted nearby residents, professionals and cultural aficionados, and eventually blossomed into an iconic late-night dining scene where hospitality professionals gather after their own establishments close. The menu features everything from classic brunch fare to escargot and French onion soup to signature comfort food dishes like meatloaf and herb crusted chicken. Guests will also enjoy the restaurant’s great vibe, great service and great liquor, beer and wine selection. The venue also offers carry out and delivery service.

Bijans Bistro | 663 N. State St. | | (312) 202-1904
Hours of operation:
Brunch: 10am – 4pm – Every day
Dinner: 4pm – 3am – Sun – Fri
4pm – 4am – Saturday

The Blanchard’s Chef Ryan Burns “Takes the Stuffy Out of French Dining”- Chicago Tribune Article 3/23

Buona Beef Opens Restaurant at New Location

Laurie Cairns
(312) 607-0016

Buona, The Original Italian Beef, Opens in Schererville, IN
Family-Owned Restaurant Group Opens First Location Outside of Illinois

CHICAGO, IL (March 20, 2018) – Buona, The Original Italian Beef, announces the opening of its first location outside of Illinois at 324 US 41, Schererville, IN 46375 on Tuesday March 27, 2018. The opening represents a significant milestone for the family-owned business, as it signals its intent to spread the “national” sandwich of Chicago beyond Illinois’ borders. The restaurant will be the group’s 23rd location.

“This move is the first wave of spreading some Buona Beef love outside of Illinois,” says second-generation owner, Joe Buonavolanto, Jr. “We’re excited to share Chicago’s original Italian beef sandwich with the residents of Schererville – made exactly like it was in 1930’s Chicago, spiced just right and free of additives and preservatives.”

To celebrate the opening, Buona is giving a free Italian beef sandwich to anyone who is in line at the Schererville location before 10:00 a.m. on March 27th. In addition, 1,981 prizes (a number that commemorates 1981, the year the family opened their first restaurant in Berwyn, IL) will be given away on opening day and on Friday and Saturday March 30th and 31st. Prizes include free beef for a year, SWAG and more. Buona is also hosting a beef-eating contest at 11:00 am on Saturday March 31st that pits athletes from Griffith and Highland High Schools who will compete for a $250 catering package.

The family-owned fast casual restaurant group serves a blend of old-school Chicago classics, including their signature Italian Beef, Italian Sausage, Beef & Sausage Combo, Meatball and Pepper & Egg sandwiches, alongside fresh, scratch-made fare including pizzas, salads and more. The menu also features Chicago-style hot dogs and seasonal shakes, sandwiches and more. The new restaurant is in a comfortable modern setting, and offers dine-in, carry out and delivery services. The restaurant also offers catering services that include ready-made sandwiches, heat-and-eat options, and platters of Italian favorites such as mostaccioli and lemon chicken.

Seating 130, the Schererville location’s design features a mix archetypal Chicago materials and classic modern elements. The location will feature additional outdoor seating in warmer months.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 11:00AM on Monday, March 26, 2018.

Buona | 324 US 41, Schererville, IN 46375
Open Daily from 10AM – 10PM | 219-515-6486|

About Buona Restaurants

The first Buona restaurant began serving Chicago’s original Italian beef in Berwyn, IL in 1981. Founded by Buonavolanto patriarch Joe Buonavolanto, Sr., the group is the last standing 100 percent family-owned Italian beef chain. Buona is the Official Italian Beef of the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox, and is proudly served at Soldier Field. Buona has evolved from a “beefstand” to a restaurant that serves a perfect blend of old-school indulgence and next-generation menu choices – made with a focus on fresh, scratch-made food. While the menu has expanded, the original Italian beef recipe has not been compromised – for the three generations of Buonavolantos who are active in the company, compromise and quality are never uttered in the same breath.

Buona’s Italian beef sandwich has won several awards and accolades since its inception, including USA TODAY’s 10Best, The Chicago Tribune’s Best Italian Beef in Chicago, Steve Dolinsky’s Essential Italian Beef Joints in Chicago(land), Eater’s 11 Essential Chicago Italian Beef Restaurants, Berwyn’s Best, West Suburban Living’s Best of the West, The Daily Herald’s Reader’s Choice Award. Buona retail products are now sold at Target, Jewel, Mariano’s, Aldi and Peapod.

For more information, visit Buona online at, like on Facebook or follow on Twitter or Instagram.

Comics and Cosmos

WGN-TV Morning Show Announcer Mike Toomey with Jim Flannigan at Carlucci Restaurant

February 22nd, 7-8:30- Carlucci in Downers Grove will host Mike Toomey and Jim Flannigan for an evening of laughs and drinks at Carlucci in Downers Grove. Tickets are $10, and that includes one Tito’s Vodka Martini. During the show, well drinks, beer, wine and appetizers are only $5!

Mike Toomey
Mike Toomey will bring his sharp delivery, quick wit, and unique style; Toomey has been a favorite at comedy clubs and special events since 1982- he has appeared in concerts with such names as Wayne Newton, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Reba McIntyre. All the more, Mike has performed on numerous television programs including: HBO’s U.S. comedy Arts Festival in Aspen Colorado; MTV’s Half Hour Comedy Hour; and A&E’s Comedy on the Road.

Jim Flannigan
Over the past few years, Jim Flannigan has become a mainstay at the top comedy clubs around the country, including Zanies, The Improv, The Laugh Factory and Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club in Las Vegas. Hailing from Chicago, Jim’s quick wit and smart humor have made him a favorite at colleges, comedy clubs and corporate events alike. In 2016, Flannigan was invited to perform at some of the biggest comedy festivals in the country, including Gilda’s LaughFest and The Great American Comedy Festival, honoring the late Johnny Carson. Jim also co-hosts the official Chicago White Sox Podcast, The Cycle, available on and iTunes.

Jim Flannigan @jimmyflann @jimmyflann

Blast! attends America’s favorite Travel & Adventure show event in D.C.

This past weekend, our CEO and producer of Taste of Travel Chicago took a trip to D.C. to see some of the top culinary performers serve some of their favorite meals for attendees. Of the chefs that were at the event, Kevin Etenson, executive chef at Retson’s Red Table is pictured preparing a meal below, as well as one of the chefs from Carmine’s. Some of our other favorite chefs were there, including Cooper’s Hawk’s executive chef, Matt McMillin, who prepared and served a very tasty brussel sprout salad. Cooper’s Hawk will be at Taste of Travel‘s event in Chicago on February 10th & 11th, serving up some satisfying vino for all. Blast! Marketing produces all of the Taste of Travel stages in DC, Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, Los Angeles, Denver, and Philly, and welcomes travelers from all over the world who enjoy food as much as us.

Carmine's SteakhouseCarmine's Dessert DishChef Kevin Etenson






















For more information about the upcoming event in Chicago, visit:

Try The City’s Best Chicago-Italian Cuisine During Restaurant Week

Enjoy the best of Chicago-Italian food for Restaurant Week (January 26 – February 8) and into the first weekend of Theatre Week (February 9 –11) at Victory Tap Chicago (South Michigan Avenue).

Chef Joe Farina is a Chicago icon known for delighting diners with his finely tuned versions of the classics that brought notoriety to Chicago’s Italian neighborhood restaurants. Utilizing the finest and freshest ingredients, Farina honors the Italian tradition of keeping it simple and letting the flavors shine through. Chef Farina’s Restaurant Week is offering selections for lunch ($22) and dinner ($33). Menu items include: Minestrone Soup, Italian Wedge Salad or Cesar Salad; Petit Filet, Salmon or Chicken Vesuvio or Vegetarian Eggplant Parmesan (a Chef Joe classic); Cannoli, Gelato or Tiramisu. Chef Joe, a certified sommelier, is offering a three-ounce wine pairing with his dinner menu for an additional $18 (Ferrari Brut Sparkling, Far Niente Estate Chardonnay, Moscato D’Asti Saracco).

The Blanchard Brings A Modernist Taste of France to Restaurant Week

Foodies looking to try something different during Restaurant Week (January 26 – February 8) and into the first weekend of Theatre Week (February 9 –11) can look to the Jean-Banchet-Awarded restaurant, The Blanchard (Lincoln Park).

Chef Ryan Burns is giving diners a rare and delicious taste of his French-inspired culinary masterpieces. The prix fixe menu includes items that are at once familiar and modernist – while many of the tastes and techniques are classic French, the presentation and ingredient pairings gently break a few traditions. Select Restaurant Week dinner selections ($44) include: Crudo (smoked oyster panna cotta marinated in trout roe; Foie Gras Torchon (Banana, cocoa nib, brioche); Chef’s inspired and must-try Carrot (orange, juniper, licorice); Short Rib (smoked dates, black garlic, shitaki mushroom); Seasonally inspired Dover Sole; Banana and Pear Roasted Sorbet Puree; Chocolate “Pot de Crème”.



CHICAGO (December 5, 2017) – Buona, The Original Italian Beef, announces the opening of its newest restaurant location in Oak Lawn, Illinois. The last of the family-owned Italian beef restaurant groups will officially open its 21st location on Wednesday, December 6th at 6235 95th Street in Oak Lawn. The restaurant marks the group’s third new opening in 2017, a year that also saw Buona open its first downtown location near Chicago’s Gold Coast, expand its deep connections with Chicago sports, celebrities, grocers, local charities and more. Buona is celebrating this opening by giving away free Italian beef sandwiches to any one in line at the Oak Lawn location by 10:00 a.m. on December 6th – adding to the over 100,000 free sandwiches the company has given to its customers or donated to charitable causes and events benefitting organizations like JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, Misericordia Heart of Mercy, Easter Seals Chicago, the United Rescue Mission (Los Angeles), and many more.
The family-owned fast casual chain serves a blend of old-school Chicago classics, including their signature Italian Beef, Italian Sausage, Beef & Sausage Combo, Meatball and Pepper & Egg sandwiches, alongside fresh, scratch-made fare including pizzas, salads and more. The menu also features Chicago-style hot dogs and seasonal shakes, sandwiches and more. 
Buona is the last of the 100 percent family-owned restaurant groups serving Chicago’s original Italian beef. The first Buona restaurant began with a secret recipe and a legacy that stems back to the beef stands that emanated from Chicago’s famous Union Stockyards. Founder Joe Buonavolanto, Sr. was among a group of Italian immigrants who made the Italian beef sandwich a staple of Chicago’s culinary scene, taking a second mortgage on his home in order to open the company’s first restaurant in Berwyn, IL. His focus on family and tradition, and his dogged adherence to the original method for making Italian beef have been essential in driving the company’s expansion. Today, Buona is the Official Italian Beef of the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox, and is proudly served at Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate fields, as well as at all home Chicago Bears football games.
The Oak Lawn location’s design is evocative of Chicago’s meatpacking district, with the exterior covered in turn-of-the twentieth-century style brick. The interior features an exposed industrial looking ceiling, polished concrete floors and subway tile throughout. The space is bright and inviting, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and seasonal outdoor seating. As with every Buona location, the Oak Lawn restaurant offers dine-in, carry out and delivery services, along with catering options that include ready-made sandwiches, heat-and-eat options and platters of Italian favorites such as Mostaccioli and Lemon Chicken.
A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place on Tuesday December 5th at 3:30 p.m. Buonavolanto family members will be joined by Oak Lawn Village President Doctor Sandra Bury and members of the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce.
For more information on the opening, visit
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