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From March 31 through Pennsylvania Primary Day on Tuesday, April 22, Di Bruno’s Chestnut Street location (1730 Chestnut St.) will be offering a culinary showdown between two sandwiches, created especially to reflect the personalities and preferences of the two democratic candidates.

The Barack Bratwurst aims to capture the spirit of Chicago’s favorite son—Bratwurst is one of the Windy City’s top street foods, and Sen. Obama is a big fan of chili. The sandwich: Kobe beef chili, served on a Chicago-style poppy seed bun.

Sen. “spicy” Clinton digs olives and pastrami. Hence, the Hillary Big City Sandwich: pastrami, pickled tomatoes, green olive tapenade, shaved onion, Swiss cheese, and spicy New York-style mustard on pumpernickel.

No need to play this one close to the vest. I’m going with the Barack Bratwurst.

The results of the poll will be tallied at the end of each day.

[Don’t] Let Them Drink Wine

My teenage son has always liked to push the envelope conversationally, but lately he has taken to asking for a sip of wine when he sees me with one. (No, that is not all the time.) Typically, this occurs while I am making dinner, and on one of those rare nights when we are all actually home at the same time to share a meal. This means, too, that four other kids are watching me, and him, making my decision all that more difficult.

I want to let him have a taste. I think it is good for him to see controlled consumption and to understand that wine isn’t something you guzzle, and that even a small sip can transform the way food tastes and vice versa. And, that making wine is an ancient craft with a rich history—a subject he enjoys.

The question of whether or not to slowly introduce wine and spirits to teenagers has been hotly debated over the past few years in response to rampant binge drinking by high school- and college-aged kids. I suspect it has come up in many of your own conversations, which is why I am posting this link to a New York Times article I came across this morning: Can Sips at Home Prevent Binges?

I would love to hear your thoughts about this topic, so please feel free to e-mail me at dwarden@mainlinetoday.com.

An Oldie But Goodie

And finally, as I write this, I am finishing off a plate of leftovers (yes, this could be a whole other conversation, which btw, I would love to engage in) from Casselli’s (7620 Ridge Ave., between Minerva and Dearnley streets).

I have heard about and passed this old-school Italian restaurant for years, but never landed there. One visit, and I am hooked—as much by the kitschy atmosphere (there’s a piano player whose repertoire includes Brandy, and the wine carafes are of the Paul Mason era) as the food. I felt like I was in a scene from Baretta, and I loved it. My martini was as good as any I’ve had at trendier joints, with big, meaty olives—not those pathetic, pea-sized ones—and, “shocking,” less expensive.

The portions are not quite as hedonistic as Maggiano’s, but considering they’re single servings, not family-style portions, they’re hefty. I got dinner and two lunches out of mine.

You can find the menu at menupages.com, but my friend who used to go all the time before she moved to Fishtown says the specials are always the way to go. I couldn’t resist testing out their eggplant, though, so I added an order of eggplant rollatini to my entrée, a special, pan-fried trout with a pecan coating and beurre meunière sauce adorned with chunks of jumbo lump crabmeat. My friend had the pork special, which was stuffed with all kinds of yummy delicacies. Having pigged out on some truly delectable roast pork on Easter Sunday, I refused a bite, so sorry about not being able to expertly divulge the full label of ingredients.

Entrées come with soup and salad, and a side of pasta or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable. I got the pasta with garlic and olive oil at an up-charge of two bucks or so; I’m thinking this is a good place to take the family, especially one filled with teenage boys. How anyone could have room for dessert is a mystery to me, but the vibe is so low-key and welcoming, I could have stayed all night sipping on espresso and an after-dinner drink. If you’re looking for unpretentious and comfortable, Casselli’s is the place to go.

No, it is not Vetri or Osteria, but think about it: Would you trade your grandmother in for Marc Vetri? (Don’t answer that question.)