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Jul 26, 2010 10:39 AM

Recommendations for Italian Restaurant in Chicago

I will be in town on Friday night and I am looking for a really good Italian dinner. It could be fancy or old school, price is not an issue. The only thing we don't want is pizza. Thanks!

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  1. Wow, there are so many good ones!

    If you want a high-end Italian experience, where you get dressed up and spend a lot of money for the ultimate in creativity and service, there's just one choice: Spiaggia. All the others are fairly moderate in price and fairly casual in style.

    My favorite moderately-priced Italian restaurant is Cafe Spiaggia, at the north end of the Mag Mile, next door to its fancy sister restaurant. Coco Pazzo, in River North, is very good too.

    A couple of excellent Italian restaurants offer Italian food with contemporary style, some of which is indistinguishable from a typical contemporary American restaurant. These include Vivere, the glitzy restaurant in the Italian Village complex in the Loop, and Cibo Matto, the oh-so-chic restaurant in the new Wit Hotel in the Loop.

    There are a few others I haven't tried yet, notably Piccolo Sogno in the West Loop (from the former chef at Coco Pazzo), and Terzo Piano in the Art Institute (no museum admission required, lunch every day but dinner only Thursdays) from Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia.

    You don't mention your location. If you're not downtown, there are other excellent restaurants throughout the city and suburbs - Riccardo Trattoria in Lincoln Park, Campagnola in Evanston, etc.

    All of these accept reservations on Opentable (as well as over the phone, of course).

    1. Sabatino's!
      Great service, good, reliable food, old school. Great pesto, nice veal,escargot, hub loves their bolognese. We always make bad jokes about how their dress code should be an italian horn, a sandwashed silk shirt & pinky ring.

      3 Replies
      1. re: louweezy

        Sabatino's is quite some distance from downtown (about seven miles northwest of the Loop, roughly halfway between there and O'Hare). So if you're on the northwest side, it's a great place to go.

        If you can let us know where you're staying or coming from, we can give you recommendations that are convenient. There are great Italian restaurants all over town, so there's no need to travel far to find one.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Anyone been to Pane Caldo lately? My wife and I really, really liked it but they changed the wine list (it seemed they lessened their emphasis on Italians esp. Barolo/Barbaresco) and we just haven't been back for a while.

          Pane Caldo
          72 E Walton St, Chicago, IL 60611

          1. re: HoosierFoodie

            Pane Caldo is very good too. The thing I've noticed about it is that their prices go up and down, a lot. Before the recession hit two years ago, it was very pricey, with entrees in the low forties. For a while they had cut their prices so low that most entrees were actually in the teens, IIRC. I see that their current website menu has most in the upper twenties. At that price, it's worth considering, but I think Cafe Spiaggia would still be my first choice if I'm in that vicinity.

      2. I'll highly second the Sabatino's recommendation. This is old school Italian at its best!