coming to Chicago
Can anyone please reccomend a great old fashioned Italian?? Red sauces, clams, etc? Price dosent matter, just the best! thanks
While Spiaggia is certainly the pinnacle of Chicago's Italian fine dining, it wouldn't be my first recommendation for true, old-fashioned Italian. Its menu items run more towards the refined (e.g. wood-roasted filet of turbot with sunchoke puree, trumpet royale mushrooms and mushroom veal reduction, etc.) than the classic, and its clientele will likely be in fine evening-wear. Don't get me wrong -- Spiaggia's offerings are exquisite, but it will be a different feel (and price tag -- $165 for the tasting menu, pre-wine and -tip) than some of our other Italian haunts.
My top recommendation for old-fashioned Italian is La Scarola, in West Town (www.lascarola.com). Welcoming service, generous portions, a cozy storefront, and classic renditions of all the dishes you'd expect (linguine and clams, eggplant parmagiano, and the best calamari I've ever had).
Of course, there are many casual fine-dining Italian restaurants (Coco Pazzo, Cafe Spiaggia, etc.) on the spectrum between La Scarola and Spiaggia, but if you want authentic, delicious, and filling, I'd go with La Scarola.
I really enjoy Volare, on Grand a block east of Michigan Ave. Topo Gigio in Oldtown is really good too. Both are fairly moderate in price and seem to be packed most of the time.