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? re: The Mia Francesca group of restaurants

I've received a gift card and was wondering which of these restaurants are worthy and which to avoid (if any)? Willing to drive so location isn't an issue.

If you have a favorite, please tell me why. If you dislike one of them, please tip us all off as to your experience. Much appreciated.

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  1. I like the Francesca's on Taylor street. I have been there multiple times and often with guests and no one has been displeased. I even have relatives who when they now come from Seattle they want to just go there. The food is top notch-. Been to the one on Bryn Mawr and liked it too but the food just did not seem as good. Good Luck and enjoy. You will love the calamari and the olive oil with spices.

    1. I LOVE Mia Francesca's in Lakeview on Clark St. Granted, I haven't been to all the other ones, but my husband and I go to Mia's all the time - great food, friendly waitstaff....it does get crowded though, so make a reservation!

      1. Has anyone been to the St. Charles, Arlington Heights, Barrington or Dundee outposts? What did you think? I've heard the St. Charles location has tight seating.

        2 Replies
        1. re: twodales

          My friends go to St. Charles often and like it, I've been once and thought OK but I don't like Italian and especially not in such huge portions. I also thought it too noisy due to the open room.

          1. re: twodales

            I go to Francesca's Tavola in AH usually Bi-monthly. I ALWAYS ask for Grant as my server and am NEVER disappointed. Great Food, Great wine list and Great Service.

            I can't speak for the other locations but I think they make a lot of their food at a commisary so I'd imagine (and hope) the others are good too.

          2. I was in the same situation - a Francesca's gift card brought us to Francesca's Forno near the Damen/Milwaukee/North Ave intersection, and unfortunately the meal fell squarely into the "I never would eat here if I had to pay my own money" category. Our pasta dishes were so completely bland and uninteresting that we had to ask for marinara sauce to add to it. That and this location was inexplicably packed to the gills, so our service was completely lackluster and the restaurant was really really loud.

            Friends of mine have been to the location in Naperville and liked it, if that helps.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jn2001

              gosh: I am disappointed to hear you had such a bad experience. I live in Bucktown and it is one of my favorite spots to dine--and I am a very picky foodie, too. I live their salume, cheeses, bruschettas (esp. the seaonsl variety--most recently we had one with figs, bacon and gorgonzola), spaghetti al fungheto, ravioli and vodka sauce, pork chop wrapped with pancetta--the list goes on. The manager, Joe, is wonderful, and has fabulous wine recommendations--they have a great wine list, too. I love this place! I have been to the Clark St and Barrington outposts, and this is my favorite. Barrington's food is not as good, and is ridiculously loud.

            2. Mia Francesca's in Lakeview is one of our favorite italian restaurants in the city, and routinely use it as our "go to" when entertaining out of town guests. I'd highly recommend it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: nks3986

                Lakeview? Is that the one on Bryn Mawr? Has anyone been to the Arlington Heights location?

                1. re: twodales

                  Lakeview and Bryn Mawr are definitely NOT the same place.

              2. La Sorella di Francesca is the Naperville outpost. Food and service are excellent. A house specialty appetizer is a dish of warm lentils served with spinach and ricotta cheese and it is very good. Another is funghi con polenta, chunks of various fresh mushrooms on a bed of very creamy polenta. Main courses are also creative and good, whether pasta alone or meat or fish (salmon, grouper, or tilapia are offered). Always a lively place, not extremely huge dining room, but they have places on main floor and upstairs.

                1. My husband and I had our rehearsal dinner at the Mia's on CLark in Lakeview. It's my favorite one. Great room, noisy, great food. The one on Bryn Mawr is fine, but Lakeview is the original.

                  1. I had a bad experience at the one on Clark. I highly recommend Elmhurst and both locations in Naperville. South Naperville outpost is in a strip mall (but it does have parking and a cool outdoor bar/patio) - Elmhurst and downtown Naperville have more charming surroundings being in-town.

                    1. Other than location, is there much difference between the Francescas? Except for Francesca's Forno in Wicker Park that specializes in "small dishes," it seems to me that the offerings are all basically the same: all basically competent Italian.

                      Am I missing something?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chicgail

                        I've never been to any of them. That is why I asked for help from you. Just because they have the same owner doesn't mean they are all good OR bad.