Pierre Thomas Victory Dinner Reviews
Article # 1 - Thomas finding it's good to be a Saint
Online Source #1
Amid 'whirlwind,' Super Bowl champ back home in Lynwood...
April 7, 2010 By ALAN MACEY
Since scoring a touchdown and helping the New Orleans Saints win Super Bowl XLIV over the Indianapolis Colts in February, T.F. South graduate and star running back Pierre Thomas has been busy.
"I was on 'TMZ' (with Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian), hosted a victory party with teammate Lance Moore in Las Vegas and was on 'Jimmy Kimmel (Live!)' twice, once in a skit and once on the actual set of the show," Thomas, wearing a big smile, said.
"I was on a BET cable show with Lance and Tracey Porter. That was fun. My good friend Vince Calabrese attended the NBA All-Star Weekend with me in Dallas. We got to meet and become friends with Richards grad Dwyane Wade (of the Miami Heat).
"We all tossed around the idea of hosting some kind of an event together this summer in Chicago. It would be a great time.
"We also got to meet the real No. 23, Michael Jordan. I told him I wear No. 23 proudly. He is a cool guy and gave me some inspiring words to remember."
For the past few days, the Lynwood native has been back home, catching up with old friends. Tuesday night, Thomas and many of those friends packed Popolano's Restaurant in Lansing to raise money for his favorite foundation, "Dreams for Kids," which helps spread awareness for those in need. Its slogan is "Changing lives, one kid at a time."
"Being at an event like this means a lot," Thomas said. "These people have stuck by my side the whole way through and I appreciate that. It has been fun seeing them again."
Today, Thomas will travel to another favorite destination, the University of Illinois in Champaign, where he hopes to talk with former coaches and some players in the football program he was part of for four memorable seasons before becoming a Saint.
Thursday, Thomas will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the White Sox game against the Cleveland Indians. His love of baseball never has waned.
"This is like a childhood dream," Thomas said. "I loved playing baseball. My dream was to make it to the major leagues. Some of my friends say I was better in baseball than football back in the day.
"The White Sox are my favorite team and the 'Big Hurt' (Frank Thomas) was my favorite player. But look at what T.F. South's Curtis Granderson has done! He's playing center field for the New York Yankees! And he's from Lynwood, just like me! It couldn't have happened to a better guy. He's a true role model for the kids.
"Going to Yankee Stadium sure sounds like a trip I should make."
After the Sox game, Thomas and his friends have been invited to another victory party at The Fifty-50 in Chicago, hosted by T.F. South alum Eddie Mahoney. On Friday, Thomas will be at Excalibur for "another victory party."
And so it goes. The life of a Super Bowl hero.
"It's surreal," Thomas tried to explain. "I've been on 'Cloud 9' since the big win. Everybody wants to hear my story. People can't imagine how physically and mentally draining it is. I can't imagine what it has been like for (Super Bowl MVP) Drew Brees.
"But I must say, it has been worth it, and I hope to experience it all again some day."
Thomas knows what he must concentrate on next week when the victory parties are finally over.
"For me to get better, I need to get stronger," he said. "I've got to build my leg power. It's the driving force for a running back. I want to add 10 pounds. If I'm going to be mentioned with the great running backs, I have to keep learning and taking care of my body.
"I want to make good decisions. Good financial decisions. I plan on taking my time, not rushing into anything and sticking to my gut when it comes to making decisions in my career."
As Calabrese watched his famous pal greet old friends, he tried to sum up what the last two months have been like.
"It has been a whirlwind, everything is happening so fast," Calabrese said. "The best part is Pierre is still the same guy he was 10 years ago. He is very humble and greets everyone with a smile. The people in New Orleans feel a real connection to Pierre."
Just like they've always had back home in the T.F. South community.
Article #2 - Popolano's is worth going across state line
Online Source #2
March 19, 2010 BY MARK TAYLOR, MARKIC46321@YAHOO.COM, POST-TRIBUNE CORRESPONDENT,
We felt a giddy sense of danger crossing the Illinois border into Lansing, Ill.
We wondered if we'd recognize any of the other diners at the crowded Popolano's Restaurant on a Friday night and if they would squeal on us to our priest if we chose to eat meat.
If you go
Where: 17940 Torrence Ave., Lansing, Ill.
Price range: $-$$
Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Worth noting: Popolano's seats just under 200 in three dining rooms and a bar area. The restaurant accepts, but does not require reservations, except for large parties. Call (708) 474-0425.
In the end we listened to our better angels and never regretted it.
The Popolano's in Lansing is south of Interstate 80/94 on Torrence Avenue. From the street it looks like a gingerbread trimmed Midwest farmhouse, although what a Midwest farmhouse is doing with an Italian name like Popolano's I'll never know.
We phoned ahead and it's a good thing that we did, because when we arrived the lobby was crowded with hungry diners. And while the staff escorted them into the dining room as tables became available, we felt smugly superior knowing our wait wouldn't be that long.
Jerry Paliga Jr., and his wife, Cindy Paliga, whose family established this friendly eatery in 1983 and has operated it since, run a fine restaurant well worth crossing the state line. The same family operates Popolano's in Chesterton.
The music, like the home cooking, is old school, but a lot of fun. Our cheery server Eric took our drinks and appetizer order quickly and soon we were noshing on shrimp de jonghe and a spinach artichoke dip, having bypassed the buffalo wings and other carnivorous offerings that could have doomed us to hell 40 years ago, or at least a 10- to 20-year sentence in purgatory.
The shrimp de jonghe was appropriately garlicky, with five plump crustaceans that clearly had never been to a health club lounging in moist bread crumbs and served with a spicy tomato-based horseradish dip. They were tender and tasty.
Ditto for the dip, which featured whole and sliced artichoke in a light creamy dip with plenty of spinach. To sop it up, Popolano's offered a choice between tri-colored tortilla chips and slices of toast ends, both of which had their charms. I enjoyed it, but my wife savored it with the gusto of a connoisseur who spent much of her adolescence as an itinerant artichoke picker who never lost her love for the cynara carduculus. Even I had to admit it was a pretty presentation and the contrasts in texture and taste quite appealing, even if I never was as fond of the blossom of the thistle as my spouse.
I should include a shout-out to the bayside chowder, a New England-style cream based soup that included clams and diced shrimp and exuded plenty of flavor.
For our entrees we stuck with the chicken of the sea, and by that I don't mean Charlie the Tuna, though I was briefly tempted by a blackened ahi tuna offering. Eric recommended the lake perch, one of his few misses. I took him at his word and salivated at the sight of the sautéed little beauties, lined up around a ramekin of tartar sauce as if Cub Scouts around a campfire. But when I bit into one it was -- bland. Almost flavorless. I passed samples around the table -- a cousin had joined us for drinks and stayed -- and my wife wanted a taste as well. A lot of salt and pepper and a squeeze or two of lemon and they finally had some flavor. They weren't bad, they just didn't taste like lake perch. Still, I ate them all. I selected as my side dish a double mashed potato, which were topped with diced scallions and grated cheddar cheese.
As is often the case, my wife chose better. She opted for the grouper with Mississippi orzo. I have been to Mississippi and never once been offered orzo, a rice-shaped pasta that is versatile and lends itself to nearly any accompanying sauce or vegetable. Orzo is like the Ed McMahon of pastas, a perfect straight man who always makes the lead look better. I think the Mississippi reference is to a local style of serving grits that includes shrimp, scallions and cheese that transforms that lowly corn product into a culinary star. While the grouper was flavorful and perfectly cooked with a light covering that protected the tenderness of the fish, the Mississippi orzo took center stage when we weren't looking. It featured plenty of shrimp and the crunch of the scallions and the gooey cheese maintained discipline among the little pasta, who stuck together as loyally as Kiss fans.
Her combination was splendid.
For dessert we opted for the tiramisu, which Eric recommended, and the chocolate mousse cake. The tiramisu arrived in a clear glass sundae cup and resembled that ice cream specialty, from the whipped topping to the chocolate syrup. While it was flavorful and eventually -- if you mined the mountain long enough -- you found the liqueur soaked ladyfinger wafers and mascarpone cheese, it was a little too fru fru for me. I'm not a tiramisu snob. I firmly believe in the right of every pastry chef to redefine that wonderful Italian creation. But I'm a simple man of simple tastes and I would have appreciated a stripped-down version.
The chocolate mousse cake featured a tasty, chocolate crumb crust and layers of chocolate and mint-flavored mousse. I actually enjoy both, but my taste buds were expecting a solid chocolate experience and we hadn't been forewarned about the mint. But now you have. The mousse was creamy and rich, flavorful both in dark chocolate and mint.
We both appreciated the fine coffee, something often overlooked in a dining experience. I've been served hot steaming cups of a tepid looking liquid that might share a distant DNA relationship with coffee, but this was the real thing: rich, hearty and flavorful enough for me to look around for Juan Valdez and his donkey.
Prices at Popolano's seem average to reasonable. Our hot spinach and artichoke dip was $5.99, our shrimp de jonghe was $6.95 and the costliest, the combination platter, was $8.99. Chicken and sea-food entrees range from $7.99 for the one-quarter fried chicken to $14.95 for my wife's grouper and Mississippi orzo, $14.99 for the walleye vesuvio and $15.99 for lake perch. Pasta dishes start at $10.50 for spaghetti with Popolano's homemade sauce, $13.79 for zuppa di pesce and $14.79 for the Italian bus tour. Pork and beef specialties include pot roast at $12.69, a full slab of baby-back ribs is $17.99 and a 23-ounce bone-in rib eye is $19.95. Desserts, like our tiramisu and mint chocolate mousse pie are $5.50.
Popolano's offers full bar service, a small, but serviceable selection of domestic and imported beers and a wine list with glasses priced from $5 to $7.75 and bottles from $18 to $30.
Family-friendly restaurant serves up tasty home-cooked Italian fare.
Article #3 - Both NFL stars in Lansing to promote their charities
Online Soure #3
BY AL HAMNIK - firstname.lastname@example.org, (219) 933-4154 | Posted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 12:05 am
JOHN LUKE | THE TIMES New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas, left, greets Tom Tuohy, president of the charity "Dreams For Kids" at Popolano's Restaurant in Lansing on Tuesday night for Thomas' Victory Dinner, a benefit for the organization. The T.F. South grad and Super Bowl XLIV champion shook hands with 125 friends and fans from the area.
Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs can't go anywhere in the Chicago area or Northwest Indiana without being approached by excitable Bears fans.
Running back Pierre Thomas, the leading rusher last season for the world champion New Orleans Saints, is fast approaching that star power.
If there's strength in numbers, imagine the positive impact both made Tuesday night at Thomas' benefit dinner for "Dreams For Kids" at Popolano's Restaurant in Lansing. Briggs made a guest appearance to help the Thornton Fractional South grad and to plug his charity -- Briggs4Kidz -- and its April 12 event.
Making Thomas' involvement more remarkable is the fact he is not married and has no children.
"That's a great example of a great role model," said Tom Tuohy, president and founder of Dreams For Kids. "What it does is set an example for every single person to be responsible for the children of our time. And it also sets an example for those who have children that there are other children out there who don't have parents or role models.
"We help the next generation now so they're prepared to live in the future. We have to concentrate on the kids living with disabilities or in poverty today so 10 years from now they haven't been neglected or isolated. We want them to be the solution, not part of the problem."
Thomas said he fell in love with the cause immediately upon learning about the organization.
"That's something I want to be a part of, helping little kids with their dreams any way I can," Thomas said. "When I was younger, I didn't have a lot of people to help me out so I want to give back. That's my whole focus -- getting these kids active, out of the streets, and having fun.
"I want to make sure the kids have role models and something to look forward to whether or not they play sports. You never know. You reach out and you might touch one of these kids and they might want to do the same thing when they get older."
Briggs4Kidz has similar goals. The Bears' star is not married but has three young children.
"My childhood, my upbringing, my mom and the values she instilled in me and my sisters ... for me it's about never forgetting where you come from," Briggs said. "To drive an hour and a half from my home to see Pierre giving back is a reason for doing this and I'll support anyone who does.
"I target those who are less fortunate and I reward kids for attendance, citizenship, improved grades, things like that. Teachers who've been with them every day select the right kids."
Briggs recently returned from his home town of Sacramento, Calif., where he visited the elementary school he attended and read to several of the children there.
"Made me feel almost as good as winning the Super Bowl," he said. "Almost."
PRO FOOTBALL / Star gazing in Chicago / PIERRE THOMAS, New Orleans Saints
Thursday -- will throw out first pitch at White Sox night game with Cleveland with an after-party at the Fifty/50, which is managed by T.F. South alum Eddie Mahoney and has T.F. South grad and current New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson as an investor.
Friday -- will host a Saints' victory party at Excalibur night club in Chicago with guests Steve Slaton of the Houston Texans, Jarrett Payton of the Chicago Slaughter and the Bears' Chester Taylor, Garrett Wolfe and Jerry Azumah.
LANCE BRIGGS, Chicago Bears
Monday -- "A Reason To Dream" kicks off the Briggs4Kidz Foundation from 6 p.m. to midnight at Lumen Nightclub, 839 West Fulton Market St., Chicago. Open bar and food from 6-9 p.m. Door prizes, raffle items and silent auction.
Article #4 - Trendy and Traditional
Article Source #4
Published: 04:00 AM Sep 16,2010 and written by PHIL ARVIA, Chicago Sun Times SouthTown Star Staff Writer
" Popolano's has been a fixture for three decades on Torrence Avenue, Popolano's Edibles and Spirits in Lansing is a casual spot that raises the bar for neighborhood pizza joints."
Article #5 - Popolano's
Located at 225 S. Calumet Ave., you will find a rehabbed circa-1870s mansion in the heart of downtown Chesterton, Popolano's offers something for everyone at reasonable prices.
Complete with large, sheltering trees, an outdoor dining patio and wraparound porch, this charmer has claimed the attention of the locals and antique-history buffs alike. Eclectic menu features excellent made-to-order pizzas, a number of creative pastas and a wide selection of burgers and sandwiches. Main courses, with bread, soup or salad and choice of potato, include a fresh fish of the day in addition to sautéed perch or tilapia, prime rib, filet mignon and baby back ribs, to name a few.
Wines by the glass or carafe; full bar. Classic dessert lineup. Open daily for lunch and dinner 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Pizzas, pastas and sandwiches $6.95 to $10.95; main courses $9.95 to $17.95. Another Popolano's is located at 17940 Torrence Ave., Lansing. Phone: (708) 474-0425. Call for more details on the Lansing location.
Reservations: Accepted Sundays through Thursdays and before 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.;Smoking: No;Kids menu: Yes; Price: $; Bar: Full bar.