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Mamma mia!

Some things in Andersonville haven't changed a bit. The Swedish-American Museum Center still presides over the neighborhood's main thoroughfare, Clark Street. And Andersonville is still--and will probably always be--the go-to spot when you're craving Swedish meatballs or you need a jar of pickled herring. But Clark Street is filling up fast with new spots with international flavor all their own. Check out the latest arrivals.

New eats

Appropriately, the grand opening of new sweet spot Pasticceria Natalina, fell on Valentine's Day. The pastries at this shop, owned by Natalie "Natalina" Zarzour and her husband Nicolas, were inspired by the couple's trips to Palermo, Italy, to visit family. To ensure authenticity, everything is made in-house. Look for Sicilian treats such as ricotta-filled cannoli; cinnamon and orange blossom rice pudding; and cassata, a rich, sugary sponge cake covered in marzipan. Some selections, like the cakes adorned with real flowers crystallized in sugar and the hand-painted marzipan, are almost too pretty to eat.

Down the street from Pasticceria Natalina, Belkacem Elmetennani, who also owns Crepe & Coffee Palace in Lincoln Park, has opened Icosium Kafe. Bright linens, golden lanterns with beaded fringes, and other Mediterranean touches adorn the inside of the cafe, named for Elmetennani's hometown in Algeria. The menu features substantial salads, but the real focus is on crepes. Make your own, or go for one of the house specialties, such as Crepe Icosium, made with raisins, pears and rose water, and topped with pistachio ice cream. Savory crepes, such as Crepa Iberica, are served with homemade soup. Icosium Kafe is BYOB, but the menu offers non-alcoholic beverages ranging from fresh-squeezed carrot juice to Egyptian mango juice to organic coffees and teas.

New shops

Continue your Mediterranean experience at Marrakech Treasures, a bazaar-like boutique crammed with Moroccan handicrafts, accessories and furniture. Owner Nadia Rahmani, who opened shop in mid-December, travels to her native Morocco four times a year to hand pick every item in the store. Among her finds: goat-skin lamps embellished with handmade henna paste, jewelry designed by women from the region of Ourika and a $3,000 antique door adorned with bronze and silver carvings.

For more contemporary home decor, head across the street to Haus, filled with pieces from 25 different local and national artists. Since its October opening, the gallery-like space has been showcasing everything from simple housewarming gifts to high-end, museum-quality pieces, such as hand-blown glass vases, woven linen tapestries, and oil, acrylic and mixed media canvases. Owner Greg Steffens, who tries to highlight up-and-coming artists, regularly hosts events in the space.

New Sounds

An offshoot of the seven-year-old Lakeview store of the same name, Borderline MUSIC specializes in dance imports, world beats, lounge music and unreleased DJ mixes. Co-owners Scott Jannush and Greg Scollan also stock framed music posters, imported magazines, DVDs and pop-culture collectibles. And naturally, the shop, which was named for Madonna's first top 10 hit, boasts the largest selection of Madonna memorabilia and music in the country, including limited-edition releases and out-of-print memorabilia. Borderline MUSIC also hosts artist meet-and-greets.

Natalie Cirar is a metromix special contributor.metromix@tribune.comOriginally published March 5, 2007.

Copyright © 2015, CT Now
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