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chicago's best italian restos/chefs


marlena spieler
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i'm looking for a handful of suggestions as to the best italian restaurants and/or chefs in chicago....have never been to chicago before and need the recommendations for....a group of italians! and myself.

all suggestions and descriptions greatly appreciated!

cheers,

marlena

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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There is one Italian restaurant in Chicago that towers over all the others, and that's Spiaggia, with cuisine served by award-winning chef Tony Mantuano. This is one of the very top restaurants in the entire city, and is priced accordingly (i.e. very expensive). It's also a gentlemen-wear-jackets-and-ties place. Exceptional, if this is what you're looking for and money is no object.

In addition to Spiaggia, which is in a class of its own, there are numerous casual mid-priced Italian restaurants that are wonderful. The best include Cafe Spiaggia (the casual sister restaurant of Spiaggia, next door), Coco Pazzo and Coco Pazzo Cafe, its slightly lower-priced sibling a half mile away, Vivere (the fine dining restaurant in the Italian Village complex - I recommend Vivere but the others are just so-so), Trattoria No. 10, Pane Caldo, and if you happen to be headed north, Va Pensiero in Evanston and Gabriel's in Highwood. There are many, many more, but (with the exception of the last two) these are the best in the greater downtown area. If you happen to be in another part of the area, let us know where, as there are good Italian places in many other city neighborhoods and suburbs.

I've typed their names with links to their websites. All show their menus and most show prices on them too, in case that's a concern.

Mia Francesca

I haven't been as impressed with the Francesca chain of Italian restaurants (4 locations in the city and 12 in the suburbs). They're okay, but I've found that the previous group is far better.

Edited by nsxtasy (log)
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You also may want to check out Terragusto and/or Riccardo Trattoria, located in Lakeview and Lincoln Park respectively. They both strike me as places that chef's from Italy might be interested in (if they really want to come all the way to America to eat Italian food :wink: )

Terragusto

1851 W Addison St

(773) 248-2777

Riccardo Trattoria

2119 N Clark St

(773) 549-0038

-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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A newer entrant in the "quality Italian" field is Osteria di Tramonto in north suburban Wheeling (www.cenitare.com). It's a concept run by the highly regarded chef team of Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand. My two visits have been quite satisfying.

Or, for a more neighborhoody feel I highly recommend La Scarola on Grand Avenue just northwest of the Loop. Excellent, authentic-tasting Italian specialties, affordable pricing and a genuine Italian neighborhood feel that brings me back time and again. (Edited to correct spelling)

Edited by mlarue (log)
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You also may want to check out Terragusto and/or Riccardo Trattoria, located in Lakeview and Lincoln Park respectively.  They both strike me as places that chef's from Italy might be interested in (if they really want to come all the way to America to eat Italian food  :wink: )

Terragusto

1851 W Addison St

(773) 248-2777

Riccardo Trattoria

2119 N Clark St

(773) 549-0038

My reaction exactly. Anyhow, I second Terragusto.

Bonsoirée has an Italian feel to it, even if it's not Italian per se.

Here's Bonsoirée's Valentine's menu. It's $105 pp, but corkage is only $5 a bottle.

Edited by Alex (log)

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

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Enoteca Roma is run by a mom and son from Rome, they also own Leticia's Bakery next door. You can often see his Cinque Cento, he imported from Italy, parked outside. I believe his son named it Luigi.

Its very Roman, they don't delve into other parts of Italian food.

They also have a great wine list.

Its on Division in Wicker Park.

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Terragusto is good. They are great at the Italian idea of having a few simply prepared offerings and doing them well.

Spiaggia is good too, but quite the opposite. A michelin-like effort at fine dining.

Tramonto's other Italian restaurant, that is downtown- Osteria via Stato is fairly authentic Italian (as opposed to american italian) and I find is particularly good for groups because the first few courses are served family style.

One place/chef not mentioned is Dean Zanella at 312Chicago. Full disclosure- I used to be the sous chef there, but I honestly believe that it is even better than when I worked there a few years ago. Dean works closely with local farmers and makes a tasty, honest effort at cooking in an Italian style with ingredients from Chicagoland.

Anthony Nicalo

Farmstead Wines

www.farmsteadwines.com

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Dear "The Other Tony",

You wouldn't know where Dean Zanella is from or where his parents/heritage is from, would you? We're leaning towards finding a chef with a sensibility of Italy's mezzogiorno, specifically Napoli, Campania, the whole tomatoes and pasta and luscious sun-drenched thing.....

thanks,

marlena

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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I will throw my vote in for Anteprima on clark near Berwyn in andersonville. Great people, great food and I believe their is a connection to Spiaggia some how. Been 4 times and have thoroughly enjoyed everysingle visit. If intimacy is what you are after go some where else, if a bustling neighborhood spot with much better than average cooking and ingredients than this is it. And I should throw in that the wine list is better than average as well.

"mmmmm purple" Homer Simpson

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