Cafe Bionda Gives Pat Bruno Double The Pleasure

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Mar 16, 2009 10:05PM

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We still read newspapers, oh yes we do, indeed. So we were happy to find, while reading last Friday's Sun-Times, that restaurant critic Pat Bruno had an opinion of Café Bionda much in line with ours. We also have a good memory and thought, "Hadn't Bruno reviewed Bionda before?"

Turned out he had. Only it was Bionda's Wicker Park location, and it was only last February that Bruno raved about that one. Helen Rosner at MenuPages Chicago compares the similarities between the reviews. For us, the issue is one of simple laziness. One of the knocks on Bruno's recent work is that it's, let's say, by the numbers. Far be it from us to criticize someone for writing about what he knows best, which in Bruno's case is Italian dining. But two reviews of what is essentially the same restaurant seems like laziness.

Had Bruno pointed out any differences between the two restaurants — as someone who's been to both, ambiance immediately comes to mind — we'd most likely be making much ado about nothing. But he didn't, and someone in editorial at the Sun-Times didn't catch it when they should have [Full Disclosure: this Chicagoist staffer has freelanced for the Sun-Times, and still hopes to after this]. We e-mailed Bruno and the Sun-Times for comment and are still waiting for a reply at the time of this writing. We will update this post once we receive comment.

4:45 p.m. UPDATE: Bruno responds, both via e-mail and phone. His e-mail was succinct: "Get a life." After letting Bruno vent about how I and MP Chicago's Rosner "have it out for (him)" and that we're "making (his) life hard by contacting the Sun-Times about this," eventually he composed himself long enough to explain.

"I'm a freelancer," Bruno said, "just trying to make a living." But what about the two separate reviews of what is essentially the same restaurant, I asked. "But they aren't," Bruno said. "Joe (Farina, café Bionda owner) may own both, but they have different chefs and different servers; just similar menus." Then why not highlight the differences between the two locations? "I only have so much space to work with. I wouldn't be able to fit it into the review. Besides, who cares, besides you and Rosner?"

Ultimately, we hashed out nothing, but not before Bruno added, "I've never heard of Chicagoist."