Gioco Reopens with a New Look & New Menu

South Loop Italian restaurant, Gioco, reopened for dinner yesterday, April 27.  Gioco closed a few months ago, with the promise to eventually reopen.  Sounds like Gioco has gotten a facelift -extensive refurbishing, a new antipasto bar, new furnishings and a new menu created by Executive Chef Danny Sweis.

Gioco Restaurant

Chef Sweis’ new menu offers rustic Italian dishes prepared with the finest available seasonal products, along with house-made pasta and wood-fired thin crust pizzas.  Featured new dishes include the House-Made Gnocchi with Fresh Wild Mushrooms, the Grilled Swordfish with Artichokes and Fennel, the Osso Bucco Milanese and the Antipasto Assortment of cured meats and fresh cheeses.  Gioco will bring back some of their classic dishes and their great selection of steaks too.  My personal favorite dish, the House-Made Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu, is a must!  The Food Whores also discovered one of our favorite wines, Il Borro Toscana, at Gioco.  Pair it with your meal for a perfect Italian feast.

Gioco will be open for dinner every night.  They will be open for weekday lunch in about 2 weeks.  Gioco expects to resume its popular Sunday brunches in the fall.

Gioco is part of the KDK Restaurant Group.

{Q-BBQ} Not Your Average Smokehouse

Downtown Naperville has always been an attractive place to dine – bustling with independent boutiques and often pricey restaurants -however the town is now complete with it’s very own fast-casual smokehouse,  Q-BBQ.  Q-BBQ earned it’s following at their flagship location in LaGrange several years ago and has now found a comfy spot on Main St. in downtown Naperville.  Their location is a huge stomach tease on the nearby population as you can smell the delicious smoked meat from MILES away!

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but Naperville seems to only have two smoke houses:  Gemato’s and now, Q-BBQ.  I went to Gemato’s over the summer and found it extremely mediocre. But of course, I’m comparing it to the lip smacking quality of Smoque BBQ or Honky Tonk’s in the city.  I ordered the smoked chicken and the ribs and remember clearly that the chicken was so dry enough that my toddler refused to eat any. The high chairs really needed a severe cleaning – who wants to put their kid in a sticky high chair??  I love that Q-BBQ is a modern restaurant – like the feeling you get when you walk into a Chipotle. It’s clean, bright and inviting.   The staff is good looking and friendly.

Now, I mentioned Honky Tonk – it’s hands down, my favorite BBQ in the city. We used to live about 5 mins from there and ordered as often as our waistlines could afford.  I can easily say that the calibre of Q-BBQ may EXCEED that of Honky Tonk. Let’s compare apples to apples.

1) Q-BBQ offers FOUR sauces where Honky Tonk only offers 3 – My favorite is definitely the South Carolina Mustard. They also have a Texas spicy, North Carolina Vinegar and Sweet Sauce.

2) Q-BBQ offers both SLICED and CHOPPED beef brisket (Honky Tonk only has chopped it seems)

3) Q-BBQ’s memphis style chicken wings might make you orgasm upon first bite. Not offered at Honky Tonk

4) Q-BBQ may just win this comparison with their BURNT ENDS. (More on that later)

What Q-BBQ doesn’t have are the fun additions that Honky Tonk has, like fried green tomatoes or bacon candy.

Not know what to order, we opted for the Q-COMBO where you can choose 4 meats and add sides.  As the platter of BBQ deliciousness was passed under my nose, I felt a mouth boner erect inside me.  My salivary glands began to express themselves and I found my throat beginner to swell. My heart palpitated just a litte as the tray slid in front of me.

::Pulled chicken, chicken wings, chopped beef brisket, pulled pork.  Hush puppies, mac n cheese (whisper “smoked…….. meat………”)

Without blinking an eye or letting another second pass without having BBQ in my mouth, we quickly divided up our share and each of us attacked the food in our own way.  Uniquely different right off the bat was the chicken wings.  They are so covered in brown sugar & spices then smoked – the flavor was finger licking good!   Everything else was very good but we weren’t able to stop at just tasting this 4 meat combo. (btw, Hush Puppies are are the BOMB – sweet kernerls of corn pop nestled in the soft potato sing glorious songs in your mouth).

One thing I was able to do on this visit was solidify the fact that I have to make my way to South Carolina very soon.  I’ve found the style of sauce that I keep going back to.  Not shown here (it’s around the backside) is this yellowy, mustard bbq sauce.  Who can recommend a place to go in South Carolina??

::Round Two

Not satisfied yet, at the recommendation of the manager, Abbey (who’s adorable by the way), we ordered the Burnt Ends.  I am not sure I have been burnt ends any where else, or maybe just never took notice.  At Q-BBQ, they smoke the brisket, then cut off the burnt ends, re-rub and smoke another two hours for a total of 24 hours.  Intense meaty smokiness unless any other meat I’ve had before.  I was afraid they might be uber dry but actually very tender!

::Round Three, Food Whores don’t quit easily

You just can’t leave a BBQ joint without trying out the ribs, right? I am a bit of a pork rib snob – Because we make ribs at home often enough – I have a preference in the cut of meat a buy.  We never buy ribs from the conventional grocery store anymore because all the big name brands have super fatty, super thick meat on the bones. Sounds like I would like it, but I don’t!  My idea of a perfect cut of ribs is uniform meatiness across the bone and at Q-BBQ, you get exactly that.  Look at the smoke ring around the meat? Yum. Perfect.

::Last round – salad for digestion.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer my salad post entree.


Hardly a healthy salad with REAL bacon, chunks of bleu but definitely fresh.  You can add meat onto the salad for just a few bucks more.

So there you have it, another invite to dine complete with pictures to show off the deliciousness.  Of all the items we ate, I highly recommend the burnt ends, the ribs and defintely the BBQ wings!  Since our visit, Q-BBQ added a few items to the menu including mashed potatoes, stuffing, chili, and a side salad to their ever-expansive menu.

~Vivian

Category:Restaurants Barbeque

103 S Main St Naperville, IL 60540
http://www.q-bbq.com/