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posted: 7/24/2013 6:00 AM

From the food editor: Suburban eateries cited for stellar wine lists

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  • Miss Illinois 2012 Ashley Hooks will host a fundraiser for Bright Pink July 26 at Saranello's restaurant in Wheeling.

    Miss Illinois 2012 Ashley Hooks will host a fundraiser for Bright Pink July 26 at Saranello's restaurant in Wheeling.
    Courtesy of Ashley Hooks

  • Wine Spectator Aug. 31, 2013

    Wine Spectator Aug. 31, 2013


Raise a glass and give a hearty "cheers" to the dozens of suburban and Chicago restaurants cited for their wine lists by Wine Spectator magazine.

In the magazine's Aug. 31 issue (on newsstands now), editors unveil the 3,793 award winners that represent all 50 U.S. states plus others in 76 countries and territories. Eleven cruise ships even made the cut.

"We assess thousands of restaurant wine lists each year, and are pleased to see the rise of a new generation of wine lists. The winning restaurants take a global approach, with an adventurous mix of wines ranging from the classics, rising stars and even underdogs yet to be discovered," said Thomas Matthews, executive editor at Wine Spectator. "The eagerness of restaurateurs to establish themselves and their wine programs with bold selections is infectious, and we are eager to witness what happens as more continue to push the envelope."

This year, 2,870 restaurants earned the program's entry-level Award of Excellence; that award recognizes a wine list offering "an interesting and diverse selection of 100 or more wines that are well-presented and thematically match the restaurant's cuisine in both price and style."

Award of Excellence winners in the suburbs include Atwaters (Geneva), Barrington Country Bistro (Barrington), Capital Grille (Lombard, Rosemont), Carlucci (Rosemont), Ditka's (Oakbrook Terrace), Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar (Lincolnshire), The Melting Pot (Downers Grove, Naperville, Schaumburg), Morton's, The Steakhouse (Naperville, Northbrook, Schaumburg), Parker's Restaurant & Bar (Downers Grove), Ruth's Chris Steak House (Northbrook, South Barrington) Season's 52 (Oak Brook, Schaumburg), 1776 (Crystal Lake), Shula's Steak House (Itasca), Sullivan's Steakhouse (Lincolnshire, Naperville), Suzette's Creperie (Wheaton), The Turf Room, (North Aurora), Waterleaf Restaurant (Glen Ellyn) and Wildwood (Geneva).

Another 850 restaurants earned the Best of Award of Excellence -- the program's middle-tier award -- "for offering a wine list of 400 or more quality selections with significant vintage depth or superior breadth in one or more major wine regions."

Best of Award of Excellence winners in the suburbs include Cafe Lucci (Glenview), Courtrights (Willow Springs), Oceanique (Evanston) and The Tavern (Libertyville).

Four restaurants (none in Illinois) received the highest honor -- The Grand Award -- this year.

Patio party: Join Miss Illinois 2012 Ashley Hooks for a glass of bubbly and help raise money for Bright Pink, a national nonprofit organization focusing on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.

From 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 26, Hooks will host Prosecco on the Patio at Saranello's, 601 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, where her cousin, Mychael Bonner is the chef.

Bonner called on some of his chef friends to put together a seasonal menu of antipasti, grilled surf and turf, pizzas and desserts. Prosecco cocktails come compliments of Terlato Wines International and goody bags from Red Door Salon. There's also a silent auction with a grand prize comprising of three hours of personal styling/shopping with Chicago's own celebrity stylist, Eric Himel. Oh, how I need that!

Tickets cost $55. Get tickets at

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at or follow her on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter @PankeysPlate.

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