Park Ridge Insider JoAnn Fosco on the fried chicken tacos at Holt’s, catching the game at Harp & Fiddle, brunch at Patina Wine Bar, and looking forward to ballroom lessons at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio
Holt’s fried chicken and elote tacos
What you do for a living: I am the co-owner of Anthony Valentino Salon here (26 Main Street) in Park Ridge. We have been in business for 33 years in all and 27 in Park Ridge. A lot has changed in Park Ridge, especially on Main Street, for the better during that time. We invested in an almost century-old building back in 1996, and this building has been very good to us. We have a great group of talented stylists who specialize in current color and blondes, balayage and the latest trends in cuts and hair extensions.
How long you’ve lived here: I first came to Park Ridge as a child in 1973 and was then raised in Niles, where my parents still live. My two siblings and their families live in Park Ridge, and I recently relocated from Barrington back to Park Ridge right here in Uptown.
What you like best about Park Ridge: We have a city vibe right at our doorstep with Chicago being so close, but also a tight-knit, neighborhood feel. It’s a generous, helpful community that looks after each other.
Best meal you’ve had recently: It was probably a late August lunch at Holt’s and their fried chicken and elote tacos. It was recommended to me, and was a big hit. Sunny patio and fried chicken with creamy elotes… what’s not to like? The best dessert I’ve had of late is the churros at Harp & Fiddle. They serve them up with a salted caramel dip that is just divine and worth the guilt.
Favorite restaurants in the area: It’s very hard to pick a favorite or two because I have many, and I’m friends with so many restaurant owners and love sitting with them and sharing stories and talking business. My more frequent go-to spots are Pennyville Station, Shakou and Harp & Fiddle (my second work family). The gnocchi at Pennyville is a favorite dish, especially with fall coming.
Favorite “hidden gem” restaurant: Not that it’s not popular, but I love Daniel’s Charcuterie tucked away on Fairview in Uptown. I go seeking their muffuletta sandwich whenever I need to satisfy my Italian deli craving. They’re open for breakfast now, too. Can’t wait to see what they have in store.
Best bar to grab a drink or to catch the game: I’m a huge sports fan, especially the NFL, so I love catching games at Harp & Fiddle. It’s easy to spend a day there because it’s so comfortable.
I’ve been loving weekend brunch lately with some girlfriends at the new Patina Wine Bar. The atmosphere is great there.
A great night out with friends usually includes… starting off with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting to welcome another new business to Park Ridge, or a Chamber networking event, and then shifting over to hanging out for a few hours with friends somewhere on Main Street.
The best way to spend a Saturday in the fall: I’ve been loving weekend brunch lately with some girlfriends at the new Patina Wine Bar. The atmosphere is great there. They make an amazing frittata and salmon pastrami toast. Delicious.
What’s something you look forward to every fall?
It’s my favorite season by far. I like dressing for fall, cooking for fall and throwing dinner parties. The Trucktoberfest event here in Park Ridge in September is always a good time. And I love Halloween in town.
Favorite local store or best shopping area: For pretty accessories, I like to go to Sooo Cute Boutique by the Pickwick Theater. From fun dresses to jewelry, there are some great finds to be had there. Marigold is a perfect spot for gifts and self-decorating ideas for my new home. I also recently found some great gifts in the men’s section at 2 Sisters Boutique on Prospect.
For pretty accessories, I like to go to Sooo Cute Boutique by the Pickwick Theater. From fun dresses to jewelry, there are some great finds to be had there.
Secret spot: Pines Room speakeasy from the owners of Holt’s is a fun new addition to the nightlife scene in town. There’s no sign on the door, and it’s such a cozy, thoughtfully decorated place.
Underrated activity in the area: Enjoying a margherita cheese pizza all to myself at Pazzi di Pizza, just like Kevin in Home Alone. I also have a lot of fun exploring Chicago neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Lincoln Square and Uptown too. I’ve met some really fun, interesting people on my jaunts down to the city.
Weekend getaway spot: I like exploring all the little towns in southwest Michigan like St. Joe’s and South Haven, but the lakefront in Chicago is where it’s at for me. Some people don’t go into the city as often as they once did, but we have this incredible lakefront and shopping and dining options right at our doorstep. I love going into the River West neighborhood in Chicago to have dinner on the patio at Piccolo Sogno or rub elbows and enjoy authentic rustic Italian at La Scarola.
What have you heard great things about but have yet to try?
The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Park Ridge. I’m excited to be starting ballroom dance lessons there this fall. Anyone else looking for a partner?