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where can I find prosciutto in Chicago?

making a dish tonight and don't know where to start to find good quality prosciutto in and around the loop... any help is greatly appreciated!

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  1. Fox & Obel has about 4 different ones to choose from....2 from Parma, 1 San Daniele, and another one. They'll let you taste them all.

    1. excellent, thanks for a quick response!

      1. Fox and Obel is the best(and most expensive) pick...but, for future refeence you'll find prosciutto of varying quality in most major supermarkets including(from personal experience): Treasure Island, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Jewel, and Potash Bros. Most of the aforementioned have locations near the Loop.

        1. Also you may want to check out Little Italy.

          1. If you drive to Fox and Obel (which I love, BTW), they have free valet parking in front of the store. They also validate for free self-parking with purchase (up to 90 minutes) if you park in the garage for the AMC movie theaters which are on the block kitty-corner to the northwest from F&O (you can enter from either Grand or Illinois).

            Fox & Obel Food Market
            401 E. Illinois Street
            Chicago, IL 60611
            312.410.7301
            www.foxandobel.com

            1. Speaking of Fox & Obel, I just noticed on their web site that Mario Batali will be there on Saturday, March 10th for a book signing.

              1. Fox & Obel is a great market. But, for Prosciutto di Parma sliced fresh and newspaper thin go to Gino's Italian Foods on Harlem in Elmwood Park. There are many fine markets to find up and down Harlem. If you have a car, it's a 20 minute drive.

                1 Reply
                1. re: boucherie

                  If you're already in the city, there's no need to spend all the money on gas to drive to the suburbs when Fox and Obel is right where you live, and you can get Prosciutto di Parma sliced fresh there, sliced at whatever thinness you ask for them.

                2. Boucherie, the Italian markets and restaurants along Harlem are an underrated cultural gem. And the prosciutto, parmigian reggiano, dried and fresh pastas are the best east of NY (except for parts of Philly). Definately head out to Harlem, well worth trip. The problem with Fox and Obel, Treasure Island, Whole Foods, etc., etc., is that the Italian products do not move continually like they do at Gino's and others. So, they get a bit dried out and sometimes have an off taste. And, the help is not Italian so they don't always know how to handle and slice.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: marilyn9

                    I disagree with your comments about Fox and Obel. The help is extremely knowledgeable about their products, and they handle and slice them with the utmost care. They do a huge business at all hours and, as a result, the products at the deli counter (as well as throughout the store) are extremely fresh at all times. The store isn't inexpensive, of course, but you have to pay for top quality.

                    If you're already in those suburbs, those markets are fine, but for anyone in the city, there is just no need to spend a lot of time and money driving to the suburbs when you can get products that are just as good or better without a long drive.

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      I actually agree with nsxtasy on this one. Perhaps they do not move the product as much, but I know when I order prosciutto at F&O earlier this week the man sliced a large hunk off before slicing to ensure I got good quality. It's aged so long anyway, so long as you do not get a dried piece that's been exposed to air it is fine.

                  2. That's good to hear. F&O is a quality place. I once bought prosciutto from Treasure Island (the one at 680 N. LSD) and it was unusable...all glopped together and have avoided non-Italian stores for this product since. The Italian stores on Harlem, little Italy, Berwyn, etc. should really be supported. It's about preserving culture and the roots that have developed these products. (Also their prices are way lower than F&O) Not wanting to spend a lot of time and money has given us KFC and McD's.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: marilyn9

                      I agree which is why I suggested Little Italy. In terms of being in the loop, Little Italy can be actually closer than F&O. I know it's a quicker walk for me to L.I rather than F&O and it's a more interesting experience shopping in a neighborhood area.

                      1. re: marilyn9

                        Well put, the italian markets on Harlem in Elmwood Park are excellent, Gino's in particular. I am in agreement, I would rather support the local neighborhood stores than the a coporate behemoth like Fox & Obel, to me F & O is a little pretentious.

                        City folks need to get out to the "suburbs" a little more, and find out that there is life, and great products outside the city.

                        1. re: swsidejim

                          Well Elmwood Park (and alot of the 'Parks') can be considered more Chicago than some suburbs. Is Elmwood Park off any 'el stops/bus lines? I would assume the Harlmen bus. I'm thinking of a exploration Saturday once it warms up a nudge.

                          1. re: lbs

                            I am not sure of public transportation... I have a buddy who lives in the area (Harlem @ Diversey), so I come in off of the Eisenhower( I live southwest of the city now), and take the trip north, its on Harlem, north of Belmont. Also, I almost always make a stop at Johnnies (on North Ave west of Harlem) for an italian beef sandwich . One of the best beefs around

                            1. re: swsidejim

                              Thanks anyway - I'll look it up on the cta website (no car for me). And I definitely want to try Johnnies!

                              1. re: lbs

                                Johnnies is at 7500 W. North Ave. Elmwood Park, and usually comes out near the top of most folks favorite Italian Beef spots. Its a small spot, with a counter to stand and eat at, and in the warmer weather there are a few picnic tables outside. There is typically a line out the door. enjoy.

                                1. re: lbs

                                  If you can there, I highly recommend it. I think it's the best beef in the city hands down. Make sure to get the lemon ice to go along with your sandwich. Oh man. Now I want a beef.

                              2. re: lbs

                                The Milwaukee Western District Line of Metra stops in Elmwood Park at Harlem & Grand (which is just north of Fullerton). From there you could walk north or take a Pace bus.

                              3. re: swsidejim

                                Fox and Obel is not a "corporate behemoth". It is a single-location store based in Chicago, just like those "neighborhood stores" in the suburbs are single locations based there.

                                1. re: nsxtasy

                                  I am glad you like F & O. its just not for everyone.

                                  If F & O works for you, enjoy.

                            2. Allright....F&O may not be the same as a local Italian market, but it's far from a corporate behemoth. I mean, we all expected F&O to open up many different locations by now, but have they? They talk about opening additional locations but they want to perfect their original store first. Remember that F&O was started by 2 guys who filled a huge void in Chicago. To call them corporate just because they have a large, successful, destination store is unjust. They just had a big vision and have delivered on it.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: NDJ

                                If I can support a small mom & pop store, a local ethnic market, my local butcher, a farmers market, etc. I will do it every time. I drive alot (120 miles a day) as it is, so making a few stops to get what I want and to support the little guy is no big deal for me.

                                If F & O works for you, enjoy..

                                1. re: swsidejim

                                  Really, F & O is a small mom & pop store. It was created by two people who have a deep appreciation for fine foods. They ARE the little guy. The little guy doesn't have to be a crappy, dark hole in the wall in some obscure suburb. Most of us who live in the city actually enjoy being able to shop within a few blocks of home and work. That's the allure of living here. We don't want to spend hours in the car for one item.

                                  Have you ever been been to F & O?

                                  1. re: sunnyday1375

                                    Actually, I think you're mistaken about F&O. It was bought out about a year ago by an unnamed coporation. And while you're right about no one wanting to spend hours in a car for one item... if you go to Ginos on Harlem Ave., you're going to be coming home with several items at a third of the price at F&O. Mom and Pop joints aren't always dark and crappy. Some of the butchers and shops up there are clean as a whistle. Bright and sometimes spacious. But always, always grateful for your business. It shows in their service. It shows in the attention they pay. And it truly shows in the products they sell. I'll take a Mom & Pop store over Whole Foods, F&O and the like any time I can.

                                    1. re: sunnyday1375

                                      Yes I have been to F & O, and was not impressed. All the items I saw, and usually purchase can be found elsewhere for less.

                                      Why would a place in the suburbs be prone to be a crappy, hole in the wall spot as you have called them?

                                      Also Oak Park, and Forest Park are hardly obscure suburbs.

                                      Have you ever been to the markets on Harlem Av.?

                                      Im glad F & O works for you, enjoy.

                                      I am tired of this F & O debate.

                                      1. re: swsidejim

                                        Many of the items I buy at Fox and Obel, I cannot purchase elsewhere.

                                        The prepared soups. Yes, you can buy prepared soups at a lot of stores, and I've tried many of them, from grocery stores to specialty gourmet stores and other places. I have not found anyplace where multiple kinds are as good as Fox and Obel's are on a consistent basis.

                                        Their pastries. No one has a cinnamon roll anything like, or anywhere near as good, as the cinnamon twist at the bakery counter at Fox and Obel. No one has bran muffins anywhere near as good as the ones there, either.

                                        Their butcher counter. They have a chicken breast stuffed with a cornmeal stuffing that is outstanding (unfortunately, they don't always have it, but when they do, it's delicious). One more thing you can't get anywhere else. Not like theirs, and not as good as theirs, anyway.

                                        These are just a few examples. There are lots more.

                                        Also, the cafe does a wonderful job. I love going there for a made-to-order omelet. Can you get one elsewhere? Yes. Can you get it at the same place where you're shopping for grocery items? No.

                                        Again, Fox and Obel is not the cheapest place to buy foods. But based on my own personal experience, based on going there many times, as well as going to many other places in the Chicago area, leads me to conclude that there are MANY items there that cannot be found anywhere else with the same level of quality. That's why I shop there, even though I don't live anywhere near there.

                                2. I posted earlier that I like F&O and I'm also a big proponent of the Italian and other ethnic markets. They are different. F&O caters to affluent urbanites, it's really their niche. Agree with an earlier post that says they are filling a culinary gap in Chicago (like D&D and many others in NYC). But, F&O does not represent a specific genre of food (unless prepared, expensive food is a genre), it crosses many cultures. The innovation that foodies genuinely love comes primarily from the authentic cultural markets and restaurants whether they are in Little Italy, Chinatown, Devon Ave., or wherever. Without those, there is no Fox & Obel.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: marilyn9

                                    Yes, they are different. But I find Fox and Obel to be far MORE innovative than neighborhood ethnic markets and restaurants, which tend to have only those foods that locals are accustomed to from their origins, and many of them lack quality. Fox and Obel offers prepared foods at a level of consistent quality that is difficult to find elsewhere, in city OR suburbs. Fox and Obel also offers food demonstrations and meet-the-author book signings, and it has a very nice cafe too. Furthermore, Fox and Obel meets lots of needs of those in its residential neighborhood.

                                  2. I heartily agree with nsxtasy on this one strangely enough. Beyond all the aforementioned hashing and rehashing let's, for a moment, consider those who for whatever the reason don't own cars. I may *want* to visit the 'burbs more often than I do, but being one of those carless(by choice) serfs, heading downtown then hopping on Metra(despite what the the ad campaigns say) isn't, necessarily, an enjoyable experience, nor are many suburban destinations located centrally to the train stations.

                                    Back to Fox and Obel. Yes, they are expensive. I do my Asian/SE Asian shopping in Uptown and Chinatown so I know full well how ridiculous it is to pay a huge premium for .50 Maesri curries at F&O. I can't imagine why anyone would do so when the ethnic markets are so accesible(especially by CTA). What does F&O offer? A beautiful store, knowledgable salespeople who may or may not share the ethnicity of the products they offer, a plethora of produce and cured meats(see: prosciutto), pretty decent bread(a luxury in this town notable for a dearth of such). Lumping F&O in with the previously-mentioned "corporate behemoths" is lazy thinking. My .02

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: aelph

                                      Since when does Chicago lack good bread? I've never heard anyone say that, and I certainly don't agree with it. Aside from a wide variety of excellent breads of all types at Fox and Obel, there are bakeries all over the city serving wonderful bread. For Italian style bread and also for whole wheat bread, I think D'amato's (on Grand next to May Street Market) is terrific.

                                    2. Just out of mild curiousity, how many people here who are F&O proponents have actually been to some/any of the stores and delis on Harlem Ave? Nsxtasy, which ones have you been to?

                                      I have to agree with most of Marilyn's points, but I am definitely biased. My father is from Italy- born and raised- and so I spent a lot of time in that area as a child. Even if I just want fresh mozzarella, I haul all the way over there. I've had products from upscale speciality grocers and I don't think they're as good.

                                      But I guess it's a matter of opinion.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: bakeryqueen

                                        I visit Caputo's on Harlem Avenue once every season with detours to the Riveria and dining stops at Capone's, Agostino's, etc. I stock up then at the former on pomodori, olive oil, cheeses, meats, pasta and other such stuff. I find the quality to be good and everything to be a super value, and a lot of fun besides. That being said, if I wanted to impress European friends with "restaurant quality" ingredients (where price was not an object), I would probably visit F&O as well as a few other suppliers. (For example, I buy my cooking olive oil at Caputo's and buy my salad olive oil by mail or at Graziano's on Randolph, since I've not been able to find a product of similar quality at the former.)

                                        By the way, I'm a driver (as well as a frequent user of the CTA), but my impression is that it would be very time-consuming at best and a super hassle at worst to use the CTA to navigate between center city and the northern reaches of Harlem.

                                      2. Aelph, you're right about the bread.

                                        1. Nsxtasy, actually, on certain other Chicago forums it's a common lament that Chicago has very few sources for great bread. And I do enjoy D'amato's...however the only store near me that carries them(often only in baguette form) is Treasure Island. I'm not a fan of Red Hen...never have been. And find Turano, etc. a necessary evil at best when making subs. Let's give scant mention to those horrible parbaked La Brea products. I recently "discovered" Benison's(I believe that's the name) of Evanston at last season's farmer's markets...again...they're in Evanston...no local year round purveyors. Breadsmith is mediocre. One can find amazing Eastern European breads in the northern 'burbs, but, again, city-proper offerings are few and far between. Chicago does not have the bread culture(so to speak) found in other cities. Not to beat a dead horse, but implicit in many chowish destinations is the assumption that one has a car. I can get all over much of the city just fine by hoofing it or CTA(even in the dead of Winter). It's ridiculous that in a vast, urban center there aren't boulangeries for every neighborhood(if not on every block). I'm just not allocating the large time expenditure to source some farflung magical hearth of bread. I'll do it for ethnic shopping excursions, but not a somewhat-passable loaf. Fox and Obel(which I shop at a couple times a year...if that) has great bread.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: aelph

                                            There are a bunch more than the ones you mentioned.

                                            First, I think suburban bakeries - and food stores and restaurants - qualify for consideration as much as those in the city, if you're speaking in generalities about the Chicago area. People live in the suburbs as well as in the city. It's one thing if someone is asking about sources in a specific area, in which case it's appropriate to focus on the area being requested (just as this topic started with an inquiry for sources "in and around the loop"). But in the absence of such specificity, the Chicago area is much bigger than what's only in the city, and suburban places are convenient to those nearby and some may be worth the trip out from the city. It's unfortunate that certain other forums consist of city people who have very little familiarity with the suburban offerings they frequently disdain. And not everyone is limited to locations within public transportation - although, again, if that is a specific consideration, then by all means it should be mentioned in any request, and appropriate recommendations (i.e. ones near public transit) can be made.

                                            Additional bakeries with excellent breads and baked goods include:

                                            - Swedish Bakery in Andersonville has a wonderful selection of Swedish baked goods of all sorts, everything from limpa to marzipan-based pastries and lots more. They are on Clark Street (CTA Bus 22). www.swedishbakery.com

                                            - You mentioned Bennison's, which is in Evanston, half a block from the Davis St stop. A nice (but fairly conventional) assortment of baked goods, reasonably good quality. www.bennisonscakes.com

                                            - Tag's, in Evanston, is another good (but conventional) bakery in Evanston, a block west of the Central Street stop on Metra's North Line. www.tagscakes.com

                                            - Three Tarts Bakery, in Northfield (Pace Bus 421 and 423) has a wonderful assortment of quality breads and cakes. They also have excellent sandwiches and light salads at lunchtime. Sort of like a smaller outlet combining the baked goods counter and the cafe at Fox and Obel. www.threetartsbakery.com

                                            - Gourmet Frog in Highwood is the bakery outlet for Froggy's, the restaurant next door. Good French bread and nice pastries. Across the street from the Highwood station on Metra's North Line. No website - Metromix listing at http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/di...

                                            - Foodstuffs, with locations in Evanston (a block west of Tag's), Glenview, Glencoe, and Lake Forest, has a nice assortment of breads. Foodstuffs is an upscale food store - somewhat like Fox and Obel, although IMHO F&O beats Foodstuffs quite handily, in both quality and variety. www.foodstuffs.com

                                            - Pasticceria Natalina was supposed to open this week, a block north of Swedish Bakery. Sounds like it might be another winner; I'm looking forward to checking it out. http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/di...

                                            1. re: nsxtasy

                                              Pasticceria Natalina sells only pastries, and not breads. I went there today and posted a review:
                                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/372142

                                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                                I appreciate your research. Unfortunately, it does me relatively no good as most of the places listed are outside the range of my city-proper purview. I've never been one to argue that the suburbs contain a wealth of great cuisine. It would be foolhardy to do so. For city-dwellers sans automobile these places might as well be on the moon. They aren't readily accesible. For instance, just a trip to Roger's Park(shy of Evanston, of course) takes upwards of 40 minutes by red line on a good day(and then however much longer to Howard stop) and much, much longer on a bad(and this is both ways. Anyway, thanks...I'll have to add your rec.'s to my lists.

                                                1. re: aelph

                                                  Actually, the suburbs DO contain a wealth of great cuisine (as much as city snobs on that other forum refuse to believe it) - everything from fine dining destination restaurants as good as many in the city (e.g. Le Francais, Oceanique, Michael, Vie, and Courtrights, just to name five), to ethnic restaurants and food markets, not only the ones in Bedford Park as mentioned above, but also at places like H-Mart in Niles and Mitsuwa in Arlington Heights, just to name two of the bigger Asian ones. Any city dweller who actually visits these places will surely change their narrow-minded opinion!

                                                  1. re: nsxtasy

                                                    I obfuscated my own point above...I intended to say that I'm not one to argue *against* the presence of great suburban cuisines. If we're talkin' the same "other" forum I'm not sure where you get the impression that they are "city snobs." There's been more discussion over there re: H-Mart, Mitsuwa, and Oceanique than on here. I also think the "narrowminded opinions" go both ways...many suburbanites are just as misinformed about Chicago-proper. C'est la vie.

                                              2. re: aelph

                                                You can get Bennison's baguettes and a few of their other goodies at Sam's Wine and Spirits...just switched over from Red Hen.

                                                1. re: aelph

                                                  Note that there are three D'Amato bakeries on Grand Avenue run by varied members of the same family. The breads differ in detail but all are at least pretty good. Treasure Island carries bread from the one in the 1300 block. The one nsxtasy is referring to is on the north side of Grand in the 1100 block, just west of Bari Foods. This one produces different bread from the others with a coal-fired oven accounting for some of the differences. The third bakery is on the south side of Grand in the 1100 block and is wholesale only.

                                                  1. re: Eldon Kreider

                                                    Ok, I'm going to get ready to duck, but please don't throw anything unless you've actually tried these. It may be exclusive to the Canal/Roosevelt Domenick's but the Como and Pugliese artisinal breads (raisin/pecan, too, if it hasn't been sitting around too long) that they offer at the counter at the far end of the store are very good. This does not apply to the French breads.

                                                    1. re: jbw

                                                      Those breads are not exclusive to that particular location of Dominick's. The Dominick's in Evanston has the same artisanal breads. I recall seeing similar offerings at other locations of Dominicks (and also Jewel, if I recall correctly). I haven't tried the two you mentioned, but I've had the raisin-pecan bread and also the whole wheat French bread, and they're pretty good - not as good as D'Amato's whole wheat, but not bad at all. Whole Foods should also be mentioned here, because they, too, sell many of the same kinds of breads (and their quality is similar to the artisanal breads at Dominick's IMHO).

                                                      I think the availability of these breads in supermarkets - along with the French bread and baguettes that they bake in the store - have probably hurt the neighborhood bakeries over the years. I can only guess that many people get them there, while picking up their cola and diapers and frozen foods, rather than make an extra stop at a standalone bakery.

                                                      I don't dispute that there are fewer neighborhood bakeries today than many years ago; I only disagree that Chicago is any different in this regard than any other city. This is really a national phenomenon. However, it's also worth noting that, while the number of neighborhood bakeries has declined, the availability of higher-quality breads in the supermarket has risen. And you can still get good bread in the Chicago area, at single-location bakeries as well as at supermarkets.

                                                2. Just a few comments. I live 3 blocks from Fox and Obel. The two guys who founded the store are long gone, having sold to corporate interests, but the buyer kept the name. Paying for quality is one thing, but $35-$50 per pound for steak is crazy. And, the service is nothing special.

                                                  Now and then I drive to Caputo's and buy prosciutto, pancetta, cold cuts, Pecorino Romano, Reggiano Parmesan cut from the wheel, clam sauce (Vongole) both red and white, Caputo's Bella Romana olive oil in 3-liter cans, 8-10 pounds of pasta, balsamic, sherry, and red wine vinegars, freshly baked foccacia, fresh produce and quite a few other things for the price of a Fox and Obel strip steak. I'm not exaggerating.

                                                  I'm glad Fox & Obel is there, it's nice to have them available, and they do catering, and there's a discount wine shop across the street with a wonderful inventory and also a tremendous selection of cheeses and specialty foods, but F&O's prices and service on a daily basis are not very appealing.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Greg in Chicago

                                                    Fox and Obel is not inexpensive, but it is what it is. I enjoy shopping there because of the consistent quality and the variety of high-quality goods, all in one place (even though their location happens to be inconvenient for me). If you prefer to shop elsewhere, that's your choice.

                                                    However, I really disagree with the above remarks about their service. I have found their customer service to be extremely responsive, in many ways - everything from the knowledge and advice of the staff behind the various counters, to the helpfulness of the butcher counter in preparing cuts to order, to the friendliness of the check-out staff. On several occasions I have sent e-mail comments to the store with questions and suggestions, and in every case I have heard back within a day or two with a direct, personalized response to my query. I couldn't ask for better service anywhere.

                                                  2. WOW. This really brought out the passion of Chicago Hounds.

                                                    I don’t buy prepared foods, so I can’t comment on F&O’s selection, although it always looks quite good.

                                                    They have an excellent selection of produce, meats and other ingredients. As a frequent cook, I always find a couple of things to bring home, but the price is often twice of what I can pay elsewhere. That puts it about in line with Whole Foods.

                                                    I like the fact that F&O was founded locally, but I don’t find it any better or worse than Whole Foods. The two are very similar in many ways. Both seem to have a very qualified staff that can be very helpful. They are certainly a far cry from the Dominick’s/Jewel stores where you are pretty much on your own, the quality is second rate, and the prices are not that great.

                                                    I don’t know if I buy the whole “F&O has sold out to the Man” line. I guess the original owners did sell out to some investors, but at this point not much has changed. It’s still an independent store. Maybe it will fall apart, but to name it “corporate” is a stretch. Lets hope the new owners have a passion for food and make a good thing better.

                                                    Fortunately I do have the luxury of being able to drive around for a few hours each weekend to look for new food stores and check out independent markets. It’s kind of a hobby of mine. Some are wonderful, some are run down holes, but in general it makes my life and my food more interesting and informed. If you like to cook, I would highly recommend looking into the hundreds of specialty food stores around the city, even if its just a once a month excursion. Marilyn Pocius’ “A cook’s guide to Chicago” is a great place to start.