As many of you know Michelle is also proud to operate her family’s Tuscan steakhouse, Gene & Georgetti in Chicago. She is third generation (it’s been in her family 82 years!), and they recently won Reader’s Choice for Best Steak in the Chicago Tribune! We wanted to share the story with you here. Michelle’s love of hospitality traces back to moments spent watching her grandfather and her parents operate the restaurant during her childhood and she brings extensive food and beverage knowledge to her clients in addition to her extensive array of knowledge producing events. 🤩
Originally published by Chicago Tribune on April 26, 2023
READERS’ CHOICE FOOD AWARDS 2023: YOUR PICKS FOR BEST NEW RESTAURANT, CHICAGO-STYLE BARBECUE AND MORE
We never know what to expect when it comes to our Readers’ Choice Food Awards these days — and we love it.
Since we started opening nominations to readers last year, the candidates we get for our Food Awards — which, this year, span from best new restaurants to late-night haunts to plant-based cuisine — are so geographically and categorically diverse, it’s clear that our small team of writers and editors could never cover the same territory as our readers.
This year, nearly 600 of you submitted nominations over a weeklong period in March. From there, we selected five finalists in each category (10 for Best New Restaurant), and nearly 9,000 votes poured in during the final half of the month. Readers showed their support from Chicago neighborhoods such as Washington Heights and Logan Square, to suburban Evanston and St. Charles and beyond.
For those wondering how much a single vote can matter in these competitions, know that just one point separated the winner and runner-up in the Best Steak category. Voters who returned daily to support their favorites made a huge difference as well, vaulting many of our winners dozens — even hundreds — of votes ahead of other finalists.
Read on to learn about our dozen winning restaurants, bars, diners, virtual kitchens and pop-ups. Want more favorites? Check out our Critics’ Choice winners from last month. You can also find all the winners since the start of our annual contest in 2011 in our searchable map.
Congrats to all who earned the recognition with another year of excellence in food, drink and hospitality through challenging times, and thanks to you, our readers, for helping shine a spotlight on all the delicious things Chicagoland has to offer. — Ariel Cheung, food editor
BEST STEAK: GENE & GEORGETTI
Asked to pick the best steak in Chicago, Tribune readers went with a classic.
But while Gene & Georgetti has been serving massive slabs of beef in an irresistible old-school atmosphere since 1941, the past four years have been a particularly challenging time for the River North steakhouse.
In October 2019, a kitchen fire shut down the restaurant for months, which required a thorough renovation. Unfortunately, the restaurant’s grand reopening, originally set for March 26, 2020, was delayed because of the pandemic.
“No one had it easy during the pandemic, but to go straight from a fire to the pandemic was challenging,” says managing partner Michelle Durpetti.
Instead of sulking, Durpetti says her team took the initiative to make the restaurant better. “There were so many silver linings in the moments that were not easy,” Durpetti says. “We got to consider who we were, what we were creating and how we could improve.”
Durpetti says the kitchen revised some recipes and now makes more items in-house, including the pasta.
“I think this is our best iteration yet,” Durpetti says. “There is always more stuff to improve in a restaurant, but I think we are in our best moment right now.” — N.K.