Parigi has been on the radar ever since former chef Abraham Salum left to open his own restaurant on Cole Avenue. What’s become of the nearly 22-year-old Oak Lawn bistro?

Doing fine, thanks, under the laid-back rule of Janice Provost, who’s owned the casual-chic Mediterranean boutique for four years. Half-chef, half-hostess, she makes an effort to greet every table, and most of her clientele seem like friends. Her shoebox of a kitchen, open to the dining room, engenders a drop-in informality, like someone’s home—a quality Salum clearly worked to duplicate at his place.
The food had a homey thing going on, too, but imagine a super-savvy home cook who’s up on all the trends. Starters included a crunchy salad with glorious chunks of hearts of palm and a totally au courant appetizer of portobello fries, cleverly served in a Belgian-style cone. The mushrooms were cut into thick rectangles, dusted with crumbs, and fried until crisp, yet stayed moist and meaty inside—a very nice textural experience.
Entrées showed versatility, from a sizzling pork chop with maple sweet potatoes to a surprisingly satisfying vegetarian dish: acorn squash stuffed with a mixture of parsnips, peas, carrots, spinach, and quinoa and topped with Asiago cheese. Side vegetables such as broccoli and carrots were impeccably cooked.

The menu changes weekly, though the notorious chocolate glob dessert never goes away. Dark and gooey, like uncooked batter, it’s a Parigi trademark. But the tall, tender lemon cake was much better. There’s much more to Parigi than the glob.

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