Bar Toma pizza in Chicago

Resident Foodies say: We hit up Chef Tony Mantuano‘s new Bar Toma, a hop, skip, and a jump away from his renowned Spiaggia restaurant on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. Bar Toma is known for its small Italian fare, plus wood oven pizzas.

Yesterday, we ordered the Smoke and Cure pizza–Vermont artisan pepperoni, mozzarella, and smoked garlic. The crust is thick at the edge, but thin inside. The wood burning oven gives the crust a great texture and nice char. We really enjoyed it and would definitely come back again.

The atmosphere at Bar Toma is warm and inviting–and the layout is pretty spacious for a bar in this area. We had no trouble getting seats at the bar on Thursday night, and, although we had reservations for a table, there did not appear to be a long wait.

The Dish: St. Patrick’s Day cupcake

Resident Foodies say: March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, the occasion when everyone is Irish for a day. In Chicago, the City dyes the river green and holds its annual parade at noon, probably the biggest in the country. This year the Chicago river will be dyed green at 10 a.m. and the parade will start at noon.

Although green beer is usually the beverage of choice, we are opting for a tall glass of milk and this decadent chocolate cupcake, with buttery frosting, topped with chocolate and green-dyed sprinkles and, of course, a shamrock. The cake is mouth-watering moist, with just the right amount of chocolate to savor. Partaking of this delectable creation is not for the faint of heart. It’s gooey, chocolatey, and so unbelievably good. Erin go bragh!

The Dish: Panera Bread pecan roll

Resident Foodies say: Panera Bread is one of our favorite “fast food” places. Their bread is yummy, and their stock is on a tear these days. Today we picked up this glazed pecan roll, baked to perfection.

What we like most: The color of the bread matches perfectly the color of the pecans. This is an incredible feat–no doubt the result of much testing and perfecting in the oven. The combination of pecans and soft bread gives the roll an incredible texture, softness with a nice crunch. And who can forget the sugary glaze that coats the roll–and, afterwards, your hands–with guilt-laden gooeyness.