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Jul 12, 2007 07:48 PM

Italian in Near North Side

Be staying at a friend's condo near River, just south of Wacker and west of Lake Shore. Any recommended Italian restos in the vicinity — aka, short cab ride — that are worth trying out next weekend?

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    1. Topo Gigio, on Wells south of North Ave., is a great trad Italian place, nice atmosphere, and outdoor patio. Very reasonably priced ($12 to $20 for entrees, except for an occasional special that might run to $25). Lively bar, fun neighborhood. I live a block away and eat there pretty often, and have never received a substandard meal.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Pete Oldtown

        I second Topo Gigio and I have eaten there many times over the years as I also live near by. It's just a neighborhood place but a really nice one and I've also never had a bad meal there. If you want something a little more upscale and quintessentially near north (Topo technically qualifies as Old Town ;-)) try Spiaggia Restaurant or Cafe Spiaggia both located at Oak and Michigan. Spiaggia restaurant is the Grande Dame of Italian fine dining in Chicago. It is a dramatic space with lovely views of the Oak Street Beach. The food is refined and the prices stratospheric. For a splurge it is highly recommended. It's cheaper and more casual sister restaurant, Cafe Spiaggia, is a very nice and a very pretty space. I particularly like the addition of the Montovani fresco replications in the dining room. From the description of where you are staying you could easily walk or cab to Vivere restaurant which is part of The Italian Village complex on Monroe between Clark & Dearborn. This is the most upscale restaurant of the three and my favorite. There is also Il Mulino which is located on Dearborn just south of Division. It's in the old Biggs space, a restaurant known more for it's romantic setting than ever for it's food. I haven't been to the Il Molino in Chicago, only the NYC branch, but from the reviews I've read it is as pricey and probably as good as the one in Manhattan.


        1. re: KateB

          Il Mulino in Chicago has gotten very mixed reviews. As expensive as the one in Manhattan, certainly.


          for some other input on the place.

          1. re: leek

            As I mentioned I haven't been to the Chicago branch but since it is in the old Biggs space it is certain to be a pretty and romantic place to dine. Most of the reviews that I have read have harped upon the outrageous prices and the offenses that engenders. I've only eaten at the Manhattan location but the food I had was excellent but, then again, I wasn't paying. If I had my perspective may be different. I can whole heartedly endorse the ones that I have been to. Spiaggia is deluxe and worth the price of admission by any standard that can afford it. I could live on the pheasant agnolotti at Vivere quite happily even though the decor of the restaurant doesn't work for me. As far as Cafe Spiaggia goes it is hit or miss for me. Certainly never bad and sometimes truly great but it used to be my shopping lunch place until they remodelled and changed the menu (the latter coming first) and removed the 4 cheese pizza with sun dried tomatoes from the menu. I was completely addicted to that pizza. Now I have to drive to Spacca Napoli for my neopolitan pizza fix and that is a hardship I willingly endure. The bonus is that I never order the same pizza twice ;-)!


      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. I'll add my voice to those praising Topo Gigio on Wells. I've dined there many times and the quality of the food is consistently good. This is the best time of the year to go, too, as the patio is open and the atmosphere is at its peak. La Scarola has been hit or miss for me lately, but I have had some memprable meals there, too.