Stepping out: Chicago Pizza and Burgers is like eating at a good friends

By From page B2 | January 19, 2011



“He who goes for a day in the forest should take bread for a week.”
— Czech proverb

Chicago Pizza and Burgers (and Indian food)

In May, this small restaurant with the most interesting of names, at 6346 Main St. (Highway 49) in the town of El Dorado, will be celebrating its second birthday. Owners Rani and Bobby, started out with big, good burgers and then fired up their wood burning pizza oven. Finally they added what I believe is the best Indian food around, an opinion that a lot of local people have.

“We were having our lunch and some people came in and we offered them a bite,” said Rani, “and they asked why Indian food wasn’t on the menu. So we added it and since then Indian food has become the most popular of our dishes. It should get more popular shortly when we install our Tandoor oven so we can make both Nan, the famous Indian bread, and Tandoori chicken.”

I asked what was new on the menu and Rani said, “Lots of things: missi roti (a spiced, flat chickpea bread), veggie korma (mixed vegetables cooked in cream sauce with dried fruit and nuts), meatball bhuna (beef meatballs stir-fried with bell pepper, onions, tomatoes and spices) and several fish and shrimp dishes.”

I decided to try some of the new dishes, but before that I started out with a mango lassi, a delicious mango and yogurt drink that I always enjoy. Then she brought a serving of the aloo tikki, a fried spiced potato patty. It came with a minty green sauce (chutney) which made it even better. After that the missi roti, which is made in four thin layers. It was lightly spicy and delicious by itself, as well as later with the food. I shared it with a couple of other diners who wondered what I was eating. They really liked it and put it on their list for their next visit.

Next came the veggie korma and the meatball bhuna, along with a serving of basmati rice. The veggie korma was quite spicy (my choice) and delicious. The meatball bhuna was also very good and very well cooked. Rani told me that they first put the meatballs on as a special. Then people kept calling to see if they were the special that day. So they added them to the menu.

After my meal, I was treated to a small dish of keer, an excellent rice pudding that I have enjoyed there before. Now full, and with a container of left overs, I started to leave, but then Rani brought out some sweets made with raw sugar, cardamom and sesame seeds. They were about the size of almonds and a nice treat. Then she brought me a spoonful of another sweet, small candies mixed with toasted fennel. Fennel has a licorice taste, something I really enjoy.

What is real special about this restaurant is that the owners are fantastic and are delighted to explain all the dishes to you. If you don’t know what you want from the Indian menu, they will ask what you like and then recommend something. They also adjust the spiciness to your taste. It is more like eating at a friend’s home than eating at a restaurant.

Chicago Pizza and Burgers (and Indian food) just changed its hours to 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. “We needed some time off,” said Rani, “so we decided to be closed on Monday, our slowest day.”

All of the food is also available to-go and about half the people buy it to eat at home. For more information call 530-621-3900.

El Dorado Art and Wine Festival

Don’t forget that this Saturday, Jan. 22, from 6 until 9 p.m. in the Main Exhibit Hall at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, one of the most spectacular events of the year takes place — the annual El Dorado Art and Wine Festival. This is the seventh year that MORE and Kiwanis have partnered to bring you this unique and exciting event and you don’t want to miss it.

More than 20 wineries are expected to participate and at least as many food vendors, so there should be plenty of wine and food tasting to please even the most discriminating palate. In addition, live music will be provided by a local band Out Of The Blue.

The artwork is provided by MORE’s Creative Arts program and its outsider artists.
With all that this event offers: dancing, a live auction, silent auctions, drawings and the best food and wine El Dorado County has to offer, no one will want to miss it.

Tickets are available at MORE, 399 Placerville Drive, 530-622-4848, or through the Kiwanis Club or at Carl Hagen Insurance, Minuteman Press and Windfall Classified in Diamond Springs. for a cost of $30 each or $50 per couple. Proceeds benefit local Kiwanis youth programs and adults with developmental disabilities.

A Chocolate Affair

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at another of the great events in our wonderful county, “A Chocolate Affair.” This popular annual event will be held Saturday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. in the Main Exhibit Hall at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive in Placerville.

Soroptimist of Cameron Park/El Dorado Hills and Soroptimist of Placerville clubs will co-host the event, which benefits women, children, families, scholarships and grants. Dave Bender, Channel 13’s weatherman, will emcee.

Attendees will be treated to samples of delicious foods from generous local restaurants, caterers, bakeries and chocolatiers and more than a dozen wineries will be pouring tastings of delectable El Dorado County wines. Local brewers will also provide samples of their wares.

In addition to all the food and drink, there will be a silent as well as a live auction.

The two Soroptimist clubs raised more than $27,000 at last year’s event, the proceeds being divided between the two clubs for distribution back into the community. Past contributions have included scholarships, Women’s Opportunity Award, Center for Violence-free Relationships, CASA, Hope House, Senior Day Care, Prom Closet, the Upper Room and other worthy community projects.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, subject to availability. Tickets are available in several locations throughout El Dorado County: Cameron Park —Cameron Park Health Foods, 3342 Coach Lane; Cameron Park Florist, 4100 Cameron Park Dr.; Sierra Vista Bank, 3311 Coach Lane, Suite A; and Shingle Springs/Cameron Park Chamber of Commerce, 3300 Coach Lane, B7. El Dorado Hills — California Welcome Center, 2085 Vine St., Suite 105; and Sandra D’s, 3941 Park Drive, Suite 6. Historic El Dorado — Hartwick House, 6237 Pleasant Valley Road. Placerville — 49er Federal Credit Union, 225 Placerville Drive; River City Bank, 348 Main St.; and the Paint Spot, 1303 Broadway. Diamond Springs —Windfall Classifieds, 624 Pleasant Valley Road; and Pollock Pines — Belle’s and Beau’s Salon, 6100 Pony Express Trail.

Tickets may also be purchased by downloading an order form at or by calling 530-344-1476.

Valentine’s Day at Sequoia

Sequoia at the Bee-Bennett House, which is located at 643 Bee St. in Placerville, will be holding a special Valentine’s Day dinner with two options.

Option one, which takes place on Saturday, Feb. 12, is the Valentine’s Dinner and Ball, which will be served in the Empire Ballroom from 5 until 8 p.m., with dancing beginning at 7 p.m. The cost is $55 per person plus tax and gratuity.

Option two takes place on Monday, Feb. 14, and is the same special Valentine’s Day dinner, served throughout the house from 5 until 9 p.m. (regular menu not available).

The cost is $55 per person plus tax and gratuity.

The menu includes: appetizer – fresh crab vol au vent with California sparkling wine; soup – roasted tomato bisque; salad – winter greens with cashews and dried cherries; entrée – select one from the following: lobster stuffed sole with lobster sauce, filet mignon and prawns with black and white sauces, roasted vegetable Wellington with truffle infused red pepper coulis or California duck breast with raspberry vinegar sauce. For dessert there is chocolate cherry tuxedo.

Reservations are required for both options and can be made by calling 530-622-5222.

Celebrate the Day

Birthdays to celebrate today: Revolutionary War hero and leader of the Vermont “Green Mountain Boys” Ethan Allen (1738); the founder of the American Civil Liberties Union Roger Nash Baldwin (1884); world famous gun maker and inventor John Moses Browning (1855); the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart Barney Clark (1921); influential French fashion designer Christian Dior (1905); American inventor, clockmaker, gunsmith, surveyor and steamboat developer, John Fitch (1743); Confederate general and one of the most famous soldiers of the Civil War Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson (1824); famous disk jockey Wolfman Jack (born Robert Smith in 1938); actors Robbie Benson (born Robert Segal in 1956), Geena Davis (1957), Jill Eikenberry (1947), Paul Scofield (1922) and Telly Savalas (born Aristotle Savalas in 1924); singer Placido Domingo (1941); golfer Jack Nicklaus (1940); musician and songwriter Billy Ocean (1950). It is also the anniversary of the first Kiwanis Club, which was chartered in Detroit, Mich. on this day in 1915, and “National Hugging Day.”

Doug Noble

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