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Need steak and Italian recs

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Hey...need a little help here.

I'll be heading to South Bend from Minnesota for a Notre Dame football game in October. Been doing it yearly for the past 5 years or so. We always stay in Chicago Friday night, go to the game on Saturday and then also spend Saturday night in Chicago.

I'm sorry to say but we've usually been disappointed with our restaurant choices. The Rosebud, Gene and Georgetti, The Chop House and Gibsons have all been just ok, but nothing spectacular. We've tried some other places too, but the names escape me.

Last year we actually stayed on the north end of town (Wheeling to be exact) and went to the two Tramonto restaurants there. Both experiences were great, but this year we're planning on staying in the city and would like to go to some places closer.

Anyway, we'd like to do Italian one night and steak the other night. Any suggestions? I know Chicago has GREAT food, but unfortunately I just haven't been able to find it yet.

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  1. For Italian, I would go to Spiaggia Cafe (the less expensive sister restaurant of the amazing Spiaggia) or Osteria Via Stato. They do a flat rate dinner for $39 a person. You pick an entree and they bring you 4 antipasto and two pastas to share as a table. All very good stuff.

    For steak I like Capital Grille. I know it is not a chicago original (Sullivans is a good choice for that) but the best is the best. For something different, Fogo De Chao is the best Brazillian steakhouse in the city.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Doogie Houndser M.D.

      I agree that Cafe Spiaggia is a must see for an Italian destination. To get a more authentic Italian experience you would have to use your passport. As far as steak goes try get a window table at Smith & Wolensky's. Their spot along the river is one of the nicest the city has to offer

    2. The best steak I have had in the city was the dry aged K.C. strip @ Saloon steakhouse. The other top steaks I have had were at David Burkes, Joes Seafood, Prime Steaks, and Stone Crab, and Keefers. I avoid places like Gibsons, G & G, The Chop House, and the chain Capital Grill, all a level below Saloon, David Burkes, Joes, and Keefers in my humble steak lovers opinion.

      Italian food, I dont go out for Italian food, I tend to cook it at home when I have the craving(I used to cook at an Itlian restaurant, and can make most dishes myself). Just stay away from Rosebud would be my only advise on this one.

      Enjoy your trip back to Chicago.

      1. A couple of higher end Italian that you might want to take a look at, not the level of Spiaggia (either in quality or pricewise), but, in general, very satisfying experiences and close to what you'd find at the higher (restaurant) levels in Italy:

        Merlo (Bolognese)
        Follia (Milanese)
        Coco Pazzo

        Depending on where you are, they may requiire a short cab ride.

        1. You can cover both your bases at Harry Caray's - a great Italian steakhouse at State & Kinzie in the River North neoghborhood. Plus since you seem to be sports fans, the atmosphere is a plus.

          8 Replies
          1. re: mr_jerry

            We were actually set to go to Harry Caray's either last year or the year before but we switched at the last minute. I can't remember where we went instead though.

            Just wondering how good the food is. I don't need a 3 star meal, but would at least like the meal to be good and something different than home.

            1. re: whoopdido

              Harry Caray's is just average, not on the same level as the top steakhouses in the city from my experience eating there. Kind of a tourist stop.

              1. re: swsidejim

                Check out carmichaels steakhouse. It is a great place to have steak. The servings are more than enough and the quality of the food is great. Best of all you don't have to be looking around for parking because valet is free. Here is the website carmichaelsteakhouse.com....hope you check it out and enjoy.

                1. re: soon2bchef

                  I've never heard of Carmichaels, is it new?

                  1. re: swsidejim

                    I had never heard of it either so I googled it. Apparently it's convenient to the United Center and has shuttle service so it's a dinner-stop for Bulls fans.

                    Reviews are mixed, but it sounds like if you're looking for a lot of meat and alcohol it would hit the spot. The OP, however, was looking for something on a par with Tramuntos in Wheeling. I wouldn't guess that this would be it.

                    My choices would be Joe's or Capital Grill for what they are looking for.

                    1. re: chicgail

                      So what's the word on Joe's? I looked at the menu online and it looks pretty interesting. There's a Capital Grille in Minneapolis, as well as Morton's, so I was looking for something a little different. I did really like Tramontos, so yeah I guess I'm looking for something at least similar to that.

                      Spiaggia looked good as well. What about the 3 that jbw suggested? Merlo, Follia and Coco Pazzo?

                      1. re: whoopdido

                        Joe's is really good, and even better when the stone crab claws are in season.

                        I have been to Joe's 4 times in the last year, and the bone in filet, and the other steaks I have had there were top notch.

                        When Stone crabs are not in season I go to Saloon, or David Burkes for a steak. I do not like Capitol Grill very much, I try to avoid all chains.

                        1. re: whoopdido

                          The other three restaurants are good but not nearly in the same way as Spiaggia or Cafe Spiaggia. They make their pasta and gnocchi daily. I dare anyone to find a better gnocchi than the one they have at the Cafe which is paired with a wild boar ragu. Oh and dont forget to ask about their home-made gelati and sorbetti along with their amazing cheese selection.