Second Helpings: Delia's Kitchen

Poised to become only Romanian restaurant in near western suburbs

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By David Hammond

Last year, I wrote about the Greek chicken at Delia's Kitchen, and recently I enjoyed their Crispy Bacon Belgian Waffle. This breakfast food was basically  a cake-y waffle with crisp bacon mixed into the batter (genius!) and sprinkled on top, along with some powdered sugar.  I thought this was a fine idea that could only be improved with…more bacon (of course!).

While eating, it occurred to me that Delia's, owned by a Romanian couple, was maybe missing a major opportunity by not serving more Romanian food.

As covered in previous posts, we have a relatively high degree of ethnically diverse dining opportunities in Oak Park.

We do not, however, have a Romanian restaurant in our village.

Now, Romanian breakfasts sound pretty simple. One such Romanian breakfast was recorded in Bram Stoker's Dracula: "I had for breakfast [...] a sort of porridge of maize flour which they said was "mamaliga."

Mamaliga is simply polenta, and in Transylvania, as in other parts of Romania, it's a first food of the day, served either sweet or savory.

I asked Veronica Ciobotaru, who owns Delia's Café, if she'd ever consider putting Romanian items on the menu. She said that she'd consider polenta, but added her customers "might not know what Romanian food is, so they might not want to try it. Greek is more familiar."

I asked her what her big seller was and she said it was matzoh ball soup, adding "I never thought people would want matzoh ball soup, but everyone loves it."

Given the large traditional Jewish population in Romania, matzoh ball soup is also big in Ciobotaru's home country, as are the potato pancakes, or latkes, which are also on are Delia's menu and common in the Jewish and Romanian culinary traditions.

So it turns out, Delia's is already serving some Romanian food.

I  would encourage Delia's Kitchen, however, to take the plunge and begin offering a few more Romanian dinner items, perhaps in the autumn or winter when lamb stew and cabbage rolls may be more seasonally appropriate.

We have about 20 Asian restaurants in the immediate area, many Italian and Greek…so Delia's Kitchen is poised to become the only Romanian restaurant in the near western suburbs of Chicago (where there are only two Romanian restaurants). Like I said, an opportunity.



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