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Best Place for a Pasta Main

My wife and I are narrowing down our choices for our Chicago honeymoon: we have reservations at Topolobampo and Gibson's; we're heading to Spoon Thai one night; we are going to try Sola (my wife is fixated on this restaurant).

My wife and I want to go to a place that has good Italian food, is not overly expensive, and where she can get an entree-sized pasta dish (rather than ordering a small pasta as a primi and then having a meat as her main). I have looked at the following menus: Spiaggia (we decided we did not want to spend that much); Cafe Coco Pazzo; Bice; Riccardo Trattoria, Cafe Spiaggia.

We like the looks of Cafe Spiaggia and Bice. Which would be the better place to go for a rewarding pasta feed, or is there somewhere else you would recommend? (Note: we are not vegetarians).

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  1. Between those two, I would choose Cafe Spiaggia. And it's an excellent choice for what you're looking for.

    1. Cafe Spiaggia is very good. I like Topo Gigio in Oldtown a lot, too. They have about 20 different pasta dishes. About $12 to $15.

      1. All of the Italian restaurants you listed above are great (especially Cafe Spiaggia and Trattoria Riccardo), but I wouldn't order pasta as my main dish at either place. When I want a great dish of pasta for a reasonable price, I go to Mia Francesca. They may not be the most authentic Italian, but I think they can serve up a mean dish of pasta with the best of them! The Francesca's on Taylor Street takes reservations and is a bit more quiet than the Lakeview location. Have a great trip!

        1 Reply
        1. re: elc515

          I second this! While not the best Italian restaurant in the city, Mia Francesca makes some GREAT pastas. Never had a bad meal here.

        2. Terragusto has excellent pasta dishes, and I would strongly recommend them for that.

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          Terragusto
          1851 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613

          4 Replies
          1. re: leek

            Totally agree with the quality of the pasta at Terragusto, which are all made in house (with sauces prepared from artisanal and local ingredients). Small, intimate, neighborhoodly; BUT, the servings are pretty close to traditional primi. If you change your mind and want to go for a full-scale Italian dinner they have a pretty good deal for couples with a pair of appetizers, a pair of pasta, and a shared secondo for about $30/head. If you find that option attractive, I would recommend it highly. It can be reached on the Red Line (Addison stop--with a good look at Wrigley Field) and #152 West. There's an Addison stop on the Brown Line that's closer, but I believe it's temporarily closed. BYOB.

            1. re: jbw

              That's funny, I thought the pasta dishes were just fine in terms of size for a main course. We each got an appetizer and a pasta (group of 4) and no one was hungry after (plus 2 of us had leftovers!). Everyone's stomach is a different size ;)

              1. re: leek

                Leek,

                I don't disagree with you, and we've certainly made meals out of appetizers and pastas. But I was concerned about the OPs specific request for entree-sized portions, and certainly Terragusto's are far from belly busters. When TG is criticized it's usually because of the quantity/value ratio. See centerstage, for instance, on the portions:

                http://centerstagechicago.com/restaur...

                1. re: jbw

                  I love TG, but my wife and I always end up drinking water thru out the night, which I expect is due to high salt content in the sauces and/or pastas.

          2. Cafe Spiaggia hands down. I've only had wonderful experiences there.

            I had one downright awful meal at Bice. The pasta they served me was crunchy and cold, so I sent it back. They brought back the same plate, seemingly just reheated and still crunchy. I would never go back.