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Dec 5, 2006 10:02 PM

New Tramonto/Gand Restaurants in Wheeling

Anyone else tried the new Osteria di Tramonto and/or Tramonto's Steak & Seafood in Wheeling? I've been to Osteria about 10 times and the food has been mostly great (with a few service gaffes and minor food mistakes). Terrific pizzas from a huge wood-burning oven and every pasta dish I've tried has been perfectly cooked and sauced. Portions are smaller than traditonal Amer-Italian joints, but larger than high-end places like Spiaggia. I'll take quality over quantity any day. I hope that more places start serving realistically sized portions.

Given the Gale Gand connection, the desserts have been something of a letdown. I actually hated the canoli, the shell was greasy tasting (it seemed like a deep-fried won ton skin) and the filling had an off-flavor to me. The tiramisu was just OK; certainly not as good as Gabriel's in Highwood. The panna cotta was flawless both times I had it, however.

The higher-end steak/seafood place quietly opened last week. It was so good that I went 2 days in a row. I was expecting it to be very expensive, but entrees start at $17. A 6 oz. filet, appetizer and dessert is around $40. They also have the requisite ginormous Chicago-style slabs-o-meat for those so inclined.

No foie gras ban in this place; they'll serve a whole lobe for about $80 (for 4-6 people). Loved the chilled seafood platter; the entry-level one ($15/person) features raw oysters, raw clams, jumbo shrimp and sweet black mussels. Everything was pristinely fresh.

Both places are outfitted in an appropriately extravagant Vegas-ish/North Shorey kind of way (while still stopping short of total ostentation). The ambience will be a huge draw for some and a big minus for others who favor a more "indie" vibe, but the high ceilings and ample space between tables should be appreciated by all. It's very obvious that huge sums of money have been spent...the steakhouse is definitely the most glam of any place in the area.

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  1. I've eaten at Osteria and enjoyed the lamb immensly. The beef tartar was also excellent.

    I would agree that the pizzas from the wood oven are excellent when they are fresh out of the office. They are still good when they get cold, but just not quite as tasty.. good, but not great for takeout pizza..

    My wife just went to a practice dinner with the RT Lounge and enjoyed the sushi a lot.

    I am a bit biased however as my next door neighbor works for Tramanto at Osteria.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rexchoi

      Try the braised monkfish at Osteria....absolutely divine. They also have a very nice wine list.

      1. re: NDJ

        Is that the "osso bucco style" monkfish? I've been curious about it. I am totally in awe of the wine program at O.d.T., so many treasures as well as good stuff that po' folks like me can afford. The list at their steak and seafood place next door is even more mind-boggling. I hope the sushi lounge is as good as the other dining rooms. I think it opens in a few days.

    2. I've pretty much lived out of the RT Lounge, Osteria di Tramonto and Tramonto's Steak and Seafood over the last few months. I've held larger dinner parties in all three and have been at least a weekly guest at the restaurants.

      My favorite of them all is RT Lounge. It's unlike anything else I go to or we have around here. First, the sushi is excellent. There are plenty of pretty good sushi places around, but this just seems to be the best. My guests have made the same comment, so I believe it to be true. I love the fact that it is completely non-smoking and just has a very relaxed feel. The decor is very stylish and while some of the seating looks better than it feels, it's nice to have a place like this so nearby. I've found the folks that work the sushi area, liquor bar and general floor all to be exceptionally friendly, helpful and eager to make the experience enjoyable. I've found myself there more and more to simply relax and enjoy not being anywhere near work! The folks that make the sushi are also a ton of fun and are willing to make pretty much anything you can imagine! My biggest surprise is still the Yellowtail Scallion roll. Simple enough, but the yellowtail just bursts with flavor.

      Tramonto's Steak and Seafood, the more upscale of the two restaurants, is excellent as well. They really know how to provide a level of service that makes you feel like you are in some major city, not Wheeling. The food is excellent and they really cater to your needs. Personally, I have a very limited diet, so the fact that they take my needs so incredibly seriously and have always been so thorough means a great deal to me. Their tuna dish is exceptionally good and my favorite on the menu. I've tried most of the salmon, as well, though I had to omit the parsnip puree due to an ingredient, but I found the fish itself to be well prepared and flavorful. My fiancé has had the complete meal, as on the menu, and loved it. She's also given very high grades to the prime rib, as well as the surf & turf. Other friends have marveled over the braised lamb shank, actually eating the meal without a knife!

      Desserts are usually out for me, but I have numerous friends and family members who will swear that their cheesecake trio is the best they've ever tasted.

      Osteria is also very good, though a bit larger and tends to run noisier. If that bothers you, you may want to ask for a seat in the side area that's partially curtained off, as it seems to reduce the noise levels a bit. The food is very good and there are more dishes that will appeal to a wider crowd, by both the dish itself and the cost. My fiancé says that the pasta dishes are all very fresh and tasty. Usually a half order is ample for her. I really enjoy the tuna with the braised fennel. Though it may seem to have common elements with the dish next door, they taste so completely different, I could enjoy them on back to back nights. Osteria also does an excellent job at accommodating dietary requests and needs. Again, such a huge concern for me that I truly appreciate it when restaurants take it as seriously as I do.

      I have more in-depth info on all three restaurants on my restaurant blog/review site,, if you all are interested. No, I'm not associated with these restaurants in any way, but I do love a good night out! :)

      1. Hi MDhalial and others...

        It looks like the link you provided didn't work (at least for me)...but this one did

        Pugman...thanks for the tip. I'm going to be looking for a new place to take the wife. We've been to Le Francais a few times (under different chefs) and have had a nice dining experience every time. I was thinking of going back again...but perhaps I'll give Osteria di Tramonto a try.



        5 Replies
        1. re: gonefishin

          Dan -

          We were back at Osteria over the weekend. Still excellent food, though they seem to be experimenting with the menu a bit. I'm worried in that my favorite dish, the Tuna with Braised Fennel is on the special menu and not the main menu any longer. I overheard one of the waiters telling a guest that "it's kinda OK, but not that great", which is disappointing, since everyone I've been with that tried it was pretty impressed by the flavor. I still highly recommend it, if you like seared tuna. If you aren't a "raw" fan, it probably isn't for you.

          Along the lines of raw, get there early for your reservation and get a drink or a sushi roll at the RT Lounge. It's a really nice place to just relax and enjoy, but they are getting busier lately. They also serve hot appetizers up there too and the full Steak and Seafood menu. I really enjoy the combinations you can make, between Osteria, Steak and Seafood and Lounge. You can really customize your meal to be whatever you like it to be by bouncing between the three of them - best of all, you never have to go out in the -20 weather we're having! :)

          1. re: MDhaliwal

            "they seem to be experimenting with the menu a bit."

            From what I understand, they will be updating their menus for each season so they can always serve food that is 'in season'

            1. re: rexchoi

              Yes, that is what they have said they are doing. We did try one of the new dishes in Osteria tonight, which was a Scottish Salmon with smashed potatoes and slow roasted tomatoes. This was on the menu in place of my beloved Tuna with fennel. I have to admit, this new salmon dish was absolutely exceptional. I loved it! Both myself and my fiancé ordered it and both of us were very impressed. The salmon was cooked very well, with great flavor and the overall dish was very enjoyable. I'm glad to see additional fish dishes pop up, since that is what I'm looking for 99% of the time I go out to eat.

              1. re: MDhaliwal

                Well, I can tell you for a fact that in the next week or so, they are doing a large menu overhaul. The favorites will still be there, but they will be replacing a lot of the items. It'll be exciting tasting all the new dishes during our meetings before work.

                1. re: osteria

                  It looks like the Scottish Salmon dish I described made the cut has been moved from the special list to the full menu, but is no longer listed as Scottish. It has become my new favorite menu item and my fiancé has become hooked as well!

                  There's also a tuna appetizer garnished with blood orange and fennel, which reminds me a bit of my old, beloved tuna dinner, in ingredients. I tried it for the first time last night and it was very pleasant and flavorful.

                  I also threw a dinner party of 10 folks for a good friend's birthday on Friday and the restaurant did a wonderful job, even on a fairly busy night.

        2. Well, I've obviously tried the food at the new Tramonto/Gand restaurants because I am a server at the Osteria. Having been there since before the restaurant even actually opened has given me the opportunity to try every item on the menu (including breakfast) and I can highly recommend the Ricky T's Braised Short Ribs, Salmon Scallopine (no, it does not come with pasta), Mezzi Rigatoni and Absolute Penneti. As for desert, don't miss out on the yummy Apple Crostada.

          The wine list at this restaurant is phenomenal and the sommeliers are always on hand to help the customers - just know that when every table wants to speak with them, it takes a while for them to get to your table at times.

          This place really is a gem. I've dined there myself several times and have received great service. I know, though, that service can be a bit strained at times on very busy weekend nights, but it's never bad in the least. All the staff has been schooled extensively on the food (including cheeses and salumis) and the wine list.

          Come out and enjoy the Osteria. It will be a great experience for you, I'm sure.

          2 Replies
          1. re: osteria

            That is one thing that I've been impressed with. The staff at the restaurants at this location are all fairly knowledgeable. As I wrote, I have some large dietary restrictions and I've always been very pleased with the effort that the staff has put forth. It really makes all the difference in the world. When there was even an inkling of doubt in their minds, I've had sous chefs brought to my table and the like to assure I'm well fed and at least as healthy as I was when I walked into the restaurant, on the way back out! :-)

            I tried the Salmon Scallopini on Saturday night in lieu of the Seared Ahi Tuna Sicilian-style, which was sold out. I enjoyed the salmon. It had a very fresh, summary flavor to it. Karen had the Cavatelli, which is pasta with tomatoes, red wine braised duck and parmesan. She enjoyed this dish a great deal and would order it again. The rest of my company for the evening tried the spaghetti and meatballs and the Pappardelle with Meat Sauce, I believe. Everyone enjoyed it all, as usual.

            Of course, it is still tough to fit in an entire Italian dinner after eating all that sushi at the RT Lounge prior! It's a real problem! :)

            1. re: MDhaliwal

              I had another wonderful night at RT Lounge and Tramonto's Steak and Seafood on Saturday night. Karen and I enjoyed the full gamut of sushi and drinks upstairs, followed by a full meal and drink downstairs. The sushi is always excellent, no matter how busy they get. Our main meal started with the house smoked salmon! I was very surprised to see this item back on the menu! Originally, they had it available with a very intricate presentation, with individual toast points topped with beautifully smoked salmon, sort of a shaved egg, red onion, capers and so forth. Soon after opening, this dish was gone. It's now back, though without the toast points. It is served more like the beef carpaccio, then with the various garnishes drizzled over the top. It was excellent.

              My tuna was suprerb as usual and Karen's surf and turf was excellent as well. The biggest moment of my night was convincing Karen to try the sundae with the peanut butter ice cream, sweet and salty peanuts, hot fudge, strawberry compote and the like. She said it was out of this world and I know I was dying to take a spoonful myself (unfortunately I'm allergic - though my coconut sorbet was excellent!).

              I noticed that they have a new salmon presentation on their menu as well. I'll hopefully try that out on my next visit and let you all know what I thought. :)

          2. The steak and prime rib is the best I've ever tasted. I'd like to know if anyone can find out who Rick's meat supplier is?

            5 Replies
            1. re: fredflintstone

              We've been staying at the Westin and have tried all 3 restaurants as well. We like the atmosphere of the sushi bar. Just a great, relaxing place to have some sake, a martine, or some light sushi. The sushi is good, but not the best we've had in the area. But it's up there.

              Osteria has been great each time. Delicious pasta dishes. I really like the duck dish too. Haven't tried the pizza yet, but probably will next week.

              The steak/seafood restaurant is our favorite. Hip, though refined decor, and wonderful service. You feel like you're downtown Chicago or midtown, Atlanta. The wine selection is out of this world. The tomahawk chop (40 oz.) ribeye should not be missed, but definitely be shared!

              The desserts were good, though not exceptional. Sides were ditto. Still, altogether, definitely worth it. Will be back soon.

              1. re: kevinabeatty

                We've ate at Osteria last month and just ate at the steak place Friday night. We weren't impressed at all with the Osteria. We thought the food was just ordinary and we could get better Italian food at many other restaurants. The menu was not creative and had the same Italian food choices you could find in many other restaurants. On the other hand, we loved the atmosphere at the steak restaurant. The tempura shrimp appetizer was delicious. My husband's aged strip steak was one of the best he has eaten. I don't eat steaks so I ordered the tuna based on our waiter's high recommendation. It was almost inedible as there was so much pepper on the ends that all I could taste was pepper. It ruined the taste of the tuna. I ended up cutting away all of the ends. I have had much better tuna elsewhere and would not recommend it.We ordered the roasted vegetables as our side. Nothing special. When Nine had roasted vegetables on their menu they were delicious. These were oily and didn't have any taste being roasted.We didn't order dessert and based upon the couple of desserts I saw at other tables they didn't look that good. Where does Gail Gand get this great reputation for desserts? My husband wants to go back again to the steak restaurant. I would probably just order a couple of appetizers for my entree.

                1. re: Bigmamma

                  We ate there back in December, maybe it was too new but it was awful. I"m really surprised at the glowing comments above. Especially the wait staff!

                  We are obviously foodies and are pickier than most I'll admit. We kind of knew what to expect but have had much better food for the masses than this. Unfortunately we're not frequently in the suburbs so I can't recommend too many alternatives. The in-laws are in Palatine.

                  1. re: fightingtheusburbs

                    > we're not frequently in the suburbs so I can't
                    > recommend too many alternatives.

                    Most of the better, more well-known steakhouses in the area (both city and suburbs) are listed in this topic:

                    Pete Miller's has a location in Wheeling. Others nearby include Stoney River in Deerfield and Deer Park, and Morton's and Ruth's Chris in Northbrook.

                  2. re: Bigmamma

                    I'm guessing you may have hit it on a bad night. I've had the tuna at Steak and Seafood at least 10x at this point and haven't found it to be over seasoned, at least not with pepper. It usually has a good spice rub on the outside, which is nicely balanced with the flavors of the fennel and the citrus used in the dish. I do tend to take bites that have a bit of each ingredient in it, so if you were forgoing the rest of the plate, maybe that may be part of the difference?

                    Everyone's taste and preference is different too, of course! :)