Oprah Winfrey had her favorite restaurants where she and her A-list guests would dine during “The Oprah Winfrey Show’s” run in Chicago, including RL and Table Fifty-Two, and now it appears Rosie O’Donnell has her own favorites since she began taping “The Rosie Show” in October in Winfrey’s Harpo Studios.
O’Donnell splits her time between Chicago and New York but visits West Loop sports bar Market on almost a weekly basis when she is in town taping her show for Winfrey’s OWN network. “The Rosie Show” guests Russell Brand, Jenny McCarthy, Kevin Hart and Phyllis Diller have also hung out at Market, which is co-owned by White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams. It helps that Market is less than half a mile away from Harpo Studios.
For fine dining, O’Donnell opts for Girl & The Goat in the West Loop and Naha in River North.
“My fiancee looks up in the (Zagat guide) where they rate restaurants and makes decisions based on that,” O’Donnell told me in December.
Another popular destination for “Rosie” guests — and pretty much any celeb visiting Chicago these days — is Paris Club in the River North neighborhood. It’s where “Rosie” guests McCarthy, Kathy Griffin, Kelly Osbourne, Gloria Estefan and NeNe Leakes were spotted, and where O’Donnell celebrated her first episode.
Where do O’Donnell’s guests stay in the city? Many guests, including McCarthy and Jane Fonda, checked into The Wit hotel — also the site of the “Rosie” staff holiday party in December.
O’Donnell, obviously, hasn’t yet attracted the same level of stars as Winfrey. And her dinner with Penny Marshall at Chicago Cut Steakhouse in December didn’t get people talking the way Winfrey’s dinner with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes at RL in 2010. But O’Donnell has given celebs such as Brand, Chelsea Handler and Cedric the Entertainer a new reason to visit Chicago, and she has been more visible around the city than Winfrey was during her tenure. Just look at O’Donnell’s Twitter page. She often will tweet about where she ate.
“(L)oved dinner at table 52,” O’Donnell tweeted to Table Fifty-Two chef (and Winfrey’s former personal chef) Art Smith in November. “(M)issed u though …”
Rosie, like Oprah, seems to have developed a taste for Smith. The chef, who recently opened Joanne Trattoria in New York with Lady Gaga’s father, Joe Germanotta, said O’Donnell has visited Table Fifty-Two several times thanks to his ex-boss’ recommendation. Smith added that O’Donnell also sends guests his way, including Sarah Ferguson, just like Winfrey would.
“Rosie is part of the Harpo family,” Smith said by email. “Families share what they love.”
Heads up: Wu-Tang Clan rapper Raekwon will perform at Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville March 13.
On the record: "I've never been a Thug or a Hustla. Never spent (a lot) of time in the ghetto. But Best Believe— There is not a Drop of P**** in my Blood." - Northwestern rap star Chet Haze, via Twitter. For more Haze tweets, check out "The Collected Wisdom of Chet Haze" by Gawker.com.
Help wanted: Do you think it's a bad idea to find love on a reality TV show? Well, then you might be what the production company behind "Top Chef" and the first five seasons of "Project Runway" might be looking for. Casting producers from Magical Elves will be in Chicago from Feb. 21-27 to cast singles in their 20's and 30's for a dating docu-series. For details, go to Curt Wagner's Show Patrol blog.
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