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Feb 25, 2007 07:27 AM

Caputo's on Harlem v. Fox & Obel's Italian

We appreciate and like a lot of what F&O has brought to the city but we were inspired to go to Caputo's when shortly after a dicussion here re "where's the best place for Prosciutto" we found ourselves at an event in Oak Park.

On the treck home we dediced to do a bit of shopping at Caputo's and what a trip (though incovenient). The title suggests a comparison but they aren't competing with one another, they are doing completely different things.

The first experience walking in after somewhat difficult parking was a 40 ish Italian woman shopping for produce and singing along to the Italian music that was piped in overhead. This is not Fox & Obel. The produce was extensive Italian with many varieties of fresh egg plant and other fresh vegetables true to the cuisine. Chicago in winter so not the best time of the year for the produce. Interesting that they are also addressing the hispanic market which is significant in and around the the produce section and throughout the store.

The deli and meat section were ridiculous. Came home with their fresh Italian sausage, among other items, and it was very good. Great variety of dried and fresh cold cuts and meats (a few prosciuttos and dried hams) and great selection. Bought a huge wedge of Parmagiana Reggiano...$4 a pound less at Caputos than where I buy on the north side.

The pasta aisle is heaven on earth. You got a sauce, they've got ten options. Some whole wheat options as well (which I'm not crazy about). Kids were restocking the olive oil as fast as people were taking it off the shelves, great selection at every price point.

A gal asked if we were finding everything and I asked where the pre made pizza dough is. I was looking for the flats that we sometimes buy that you can sauce, add cheese and bake. I went where she sent me and found two options of frozen balls of pizza dough.

Our basket looked like we had just ended a fast.

Caputo's is a fabulous experience and offers more Italian selections than you can find in the city. Not easy to get to, but a wonderful, authentic experience. A stock up a couple of times a year place. Real people shop there.

Fox & Obel is grand. Caputo's is real. They're different

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  1. I agree completely. The recent discussion on this Board also inspired me to go there. Produce was gorgeous and extraordinarily reasonably priced -- asparagus for 99 cents/ lb & red leaf lettuce for $1.49/lb. The ethnic diversity of the customers made one feel that this is a true Chicago neighborhood experience; not only did I overhear Italian, but also Spanish & Polish. I'll go back too, even though the parking is a challenge.

    1. Caputo's is awesome. There are other locations as well (in the suburbs, though).

      1. I'm fortunate enough to live about a mile away from the Addison Caputo's, and only a couple away from the one in Bloomingdale. I'm pretty sure that our store is bigger than the one on Harlem, and it is a wonderland of produce, italian specialties and interesting foods of all kinds. From my experience, I would recommend that anyone try their garlic sausage, their homemade bocconcini, the homemade seafood salad (great on a green salad) and the tiramisu in the bakery. Bless them for such a great variety and prices fair enough to actually be able to eat well!!

        1. Hi all,

          I have the Naperville Caputo's near me and love the cannoli's there :P The produce aisle is also quite nice. But one of my favorite things are the many import items here.

          I don't think all that much of the meat and seafood, as it's been quite poor looking and nothing special the times that I've tried it.

          BUT...the import stuff is great! San Marzano tomato's, the pasta choices, some nice balsamics (although you still have to watch for the brands that are all hype and price) and oils too.

          Overall...I rate it very good for imports, price, produce and a so-so selection on cheeses.

          take care,

          1. Thanks for all this info. I'm hosting an Italian wine tasting gathering soon and was wondering which Italian grocery to try for the appetizers.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sheilamarie

              I live in downtown Chicago, a few blocks from Fox and Obel. They sell high-quality food, at insane prices. A few times each year, I battle traffic to Caputo's, to load up on pasta, olive oil, and all things Italian.

              I have tried a broad selection of pastas, olive oils, sauces, deli items, and things Italian both fresh and canned, from Caputo's, and was pleased every time. I especially enjoy the freshly baked focaccia they always have. Also, their cheeses are wonderful, and if you ask, they will always cut a piece of Reggiano Parmesan from the wheel. They have plenty of pre-packaged cheese pieces sitting there for sale, but they offer the buyer better alternatives.

              Others may disagree, but I have found some of the employees at Fox and Obel to be surly. My trips there are few and far between, and take place only when time doesn't permit going elsewhere.

              1. re: Greg in Chicago

                I enjoy shopping at Fox and Obel, and have found the employees there to be consistently helpful and friendly. Sure, the prices are more than other places, but the quality is always the very best. I don't buy cheeses or packaged goods there because there are other places that do as well, but there are other categories of foods where their offerings are just *better* than elsewhere - everything from prepared foods (their soups are superb), to baked goods (so are their cinnamon swirl rolls), to fresh fish and meats, and other foods. It's not the place where I buy most of my groceries, but when I'm looking for something that's a higher quality than elsewhere and/or a bit unusual, I've had great success going there.