Is Spiaggia overrated?
What am I missing? Spiaggia is the most overrated of all the restaurants I have been to in several years of dining in Chicago. The scallop appetizer was fine but lacked the perfect consistency you would find at mk or Spring. Gnocchi were all right but nothing you couldn't get for half price at Cafe Spiaggia next door. Lamb entree was disappointing, especially the accompanying polenta. The service was average. The decor benefits from the views but is rather tired. If you want Italian food, go to the Cafe, order pasta, and spend much less money. Or go to Merlo, Follia, Giocco, or Cocco Pazzo.
Really, what am I missing??
I was fortunate to be invited to an "expense account" dinner at Spiaggia Saturday night. There was a snafu with the table (table for 10 broken up for other diners due to our late arrival), but the service was smooth otherwise. I agree that it is not a good value, but I might as well add a few comments on the food.
There was an amuse of a mushroom-flavored cream or creamy cheese, shaped into a tiny quenelle, in a tasty puddle of green sauce. That might have been the best little taste of the evening. I started with the beef tartare, consisting of diced strip steak formed into a squat cylinder lubricated with white truffle "essence" and perched on a small nest of micro greens. Nice, but for my money, not a $25 app. The person next to me ordered the most interesting looking secondi piatti, a plate featuring three preparations of lamb (sounds from your report as though the "chickpea polenta" was bad; perhaps that could be substituted). I had the California spot prawns, wood-grilled and served with polenta. This was of impeccable quality, but a bit boring. Unfortunately it was not a dinner where you could share lots of bites across the table. I forget what I had for dessert, not because it wasn't well constructed, but due to much too much wine. :-)