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Piccolo Sogno

m
mike_d Oct 28, 2010 05:02 PM

Anything new to mention about this place? Some older stuff on the board, but got a rec from an acquaintance and would like any opinions you all might have. Thanks.

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    cweideman Nov 4, 2010 07:06 AM

    Piccolo has a new Fall menu out that is awesome. I love Piccolo, its my favorite Italian Place in the city too! They were reviewed on Check, Please! last Friday and got rave reviews, check it out!

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    Piccolo Sogno
    464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

    1. chicgail Nov 4, 2010 01:46 PM

      Piccolo is fine. Nothing wrong with it, but why don't you let us know what you're looking for, whether it's type of food (Italian only?), location, price, who will be there, ambiance and we can comment more intelligently regarding what you want.

      For example, Spiaggia Cafe is extraordinary gourmet Italian that you might really like better. Or Quartino's is really good for a more casual, raucus evening.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chicgail
        nsxtasy Nov 7, 2010 04:49 PM

        I would also put in a mention of both Vivere (in the Italian Village complex in the Loop) and Cibo Matto (in the new Wit Hotel in the Loop). Both Vivere and Cibo Matto offer a more contemporary version of Italian cuisine, including global bistro type dishes. Both are excellent. Cafe Spiaggia and Piccolo Sogno are also good, but each is a little different; when in doubt, check out the menus on their websites to get a better idea of how their food differs from one another.

        1. re: chicgail
          m
          mike_d Nov 9, 2010 09:01 AM

          Thanks. I was just interested in opinions. As I said, someone not on Chowhounds recommended it, and I was just checking to see your thoughts.. The lack of postings suggested a lukewarn reception on the board... I love Quartinos. by the way, and is my default stop when in town for wine and a bite. Still that menu does look interesting and I may have to stop for lunch while on holiday upcoming.

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          Quartino
          626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

        2. nsxtasy May 10, 2011 02:27 PM

          I hadn’t gotten a chance to post something about my dinner a week ago at Piccolo Sogno, so I’m doing it now that I’m back in town. Chicago has several really great Italian restaurants and this is one of them. I LOVED this place!

          First impressions matter, and I loved it right off the bat. I was seated and looked around at everyone eating and having a good time. The décor is your typical bistro, and you could see into the kitchen at the far end of the dining room. It was somewhat loud but not uncomfortably so (unlike some other trendy places). They brought a basket of breads to the table, and OH MY GOD they were good. They make all the breads in-house. The basket included crostini, those incredibly thin breadsticks, and these were just amazing, easily the best I have ever had by far, with a crumbly texture and a little bit of seasoning. I want some more RIGHT NOW! :) There was also an outstanding focaccia and some more conventional but equally outstanding Italian bread made with some whole grain flour, I think. I started with the pear salad, which was very nice. We then had the mixed grill, which included outstanding grilled calamari in which the body was left mostly whole (slices only went halfway through, instead of slicing all the way for rings). The octopus in the mixed grill was a bit overcooked/chewy but this was the only flaw in the entire meal. My main was braised beef short ribs and these were excellent; if you like short ribs, I recommend them! They were served over a bed of polenta. So by this point everything was already excellent. Then we had dessert, and another “oh my god” dish, panna cotta flavored with saffron. And it was just amazing – with the mild sweetness of the panna cotta balanced just perfectly with the mild, slight astringency of the saffron taste. The service, led by our waiter Alfredo, was equally outstanding. Chef Priolo was on site, too, chatting with customers, doing some light prep in the kitchen, etc. The check came out to $80/person including moderate alcohol ordered by the glass and tax/tip. Piccolo Sogno is thoroughly outstanding in every way and I highly recommend it!

          www.piccolosognochicago.com

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          Piccolo Sogno
          464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

          2 Replies
          1. re: nsxtasy
            nsxtasy Oct 18, 2011 03:03 PM

            We ate at Piccolo Sogno last night and it was excellent once again. Several of the dishes were outstanding, a couple were just okay, and overall it was another wonderful meal.

            After the same heavenly bread service as my previous visit, the three of us started with three appetizers. The "sformato di zucca - Local squash flan, parmesan cream and house made sapa" was wonderful, a "don't miss" item. I ordered the "insalata di barbabietole - Mixed local beets, shaved fennel, imported ricotta di buffalo, greens, citrus infused oil"; they were happy to honor my request to substitute bleu cheese for the ricotta, and I think it worked very well that way. The third starter was just okay, not bad but not transcendent: "insalata di cicoria - Treviso Radicchio, endive and rucula, shaved parmesan, aged balsamic". We then had three pastas: "cappellacci di zucca - Local pumpkin and amaretto cookie stuffed pasta with brown butter, walnuts and sage" which was very good (not as sweet as its description sounds), "gnocchi d’ autunno - Spinach and potato gnocchi, mushrooms, local squash, toasted garlic and herbs" which was also good, and I forget the third one, sorry. For my main, I got the "'sapore' di mare - Assorted shellfish and fish stew, garlic rubbed toast", and this was another outstanding "don't miss" dish. The amount of fish (calamari, clams, mussels, shrimp, and some type of filet) was exceedingly generous and the spicy tomato-based broth was very flavorful. I tried a companion's "coniglio all’ agro - Slow stewed rabbit with white wine, rosemary, lemon, semolina pudding" and it was very good, tender, moist, and flavorful. The third main was the weakest dish of the meal: "halibut con fregola - Seared Alaskan Halibut, toasted fregola, vegetables, lemon oil, herb salad". It was just too mild and bland, and the chopped vegetables it was served over didn't do anything to help. We also had a side of the polenta, which was available hard or soft; we got it soft and it was excellent. We finished with the same saffron panna cotta as I had the previous time, and it was once again excellent, a great dish where the sharpness of saffron contrasted nicely with the ever so slightly sweet creaminess of panna cotta.

            Piccolo Sogno is turning out some of the best, most creative Italian food in Chicago, and I highly recommend it!

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            Piccolo Sogno
            464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

            1. re: nsxtasy
              h
              hoppy2468 Oct 19, 2011 07:01 AM

              We ate there last Friday. As nsxtasy points out, the bread service is truly delicious. We also had the sformato di zucca. I thought it ok. It didn't "wow" me. Wife had a daily risotto which was excellent. I had the spaghetti neri “frutti di mare". Outstanding. The string cut black spaghetti was wonderful. And then...coniglio all agro for both of us. This "WOWED" us. Unbelieveable. The semolina pudding that it came with were the best "mashed potatoes" I've ever had. Well, the ones at Guy Savoy in Paris were actually the best but then those were potatoes. No dessert, we went to the chocolate buffet at The Lobby but that's another story.

              Lastly, we arrived maybe ten minutes late and had called to say that we would be. We were told to wait at the bar. No room there of course and as it was our anniversary, we wanted to wait until we got to our table to toast with some bubbles. We watched many people leave while we waited and waited. We were NOT going to get a drink at the bar. I hate restaurants that delay your table in the hope that they can pick up a few extra bucks by making you wait in the hope that you'll buy a drink. Then a table opened up in the bar/waiting area. It sat empty for about 10 minutes until we were taken to it. As it was our anniversary there was no way I was taking that table as it was quite loud around the bar. As I was stating this fact to the hostess, one of the owners was passing by and heard me. He assured me that he would find us another table and he did, once we waited another five minutes. Once we got past this opening B.S. dinner was wonderful, what I've come to expect at P.S. but that wait has got to stop.

          2. m
            mike_d Oct 19, 2011 02:00 PM

            It's killing me that I still have not gotten to this restaurant in a year. C'mon you guys, stop posting about it. ;-)

            1 Reply
            1. re: mike_d
              nsxtasy Oct 19, 2011 02:36 PM

              :)

              BTW, when you want to go, try to make your reservation as far in advance as you can. They've been filling up at prime times, even during the week. I had trouble finding the time I wanted a month out, and it was for a Monday night!

              Fortunately, they're in the process of expanding a bit, so that should bump up their capacity. (The open kitchen I noted in my earlier visit has been pushed back and is no longer visible to the dining room; perhaps it will be visible again when they finish the extra space, which will be additional dining area.)

            2. m
              mike_d Mar 20, 2012 09:09 AM

              So, I started this thread what seems a lifetime ago, and I thought I'd finish it with a review of our dinner there last night. What can I say? I'm slow but persistent - we finally got there. FYI, this may get a bit long....

              I'm going to put in the url for the current menu for reference:
              http://piccolosognorestaurant.com/men...

              My wife is fond of pear salads, so we split the roasted pear salad. I added a bit of balsamic vinegar from the bottle on the table. I thought it brought out the delicate roasted flavor of the pear. The goat cheese and greens worked very well together. A good start, I thought. My wife loved it.

              As much as I wanted something off the secondi menu, it was St. Joseph's Day, and the range of pastas, and the chance to have appetizer sized portions, won the day. And to clarify, we shared everything, passing the plates back and forth between the two of us.

              The first two pastas, the signature ravioli w/4 cheeses. I swear I can taste it now :-) The marsala glaze was just perfectly restrained, the pine nuts (so easy to ruin) just right. It was impressive as a blend of flavors. The stracci might have been better though. Best pasta ever, so light and flavorful. I'm not ready to give up the usual durum semolina, but wow. Excellent combo of ingredients, especially with what is a great time for asparagus. Great mushroom and truffle oil flavors, just hint of garlic.

              In place of the meat course, the second set of pastas were ragus. The veal ragu on "straw and hay" and the bolognese on the tortelli. First, it was great to be able to compare the ragus. The bolognese, rich, strong beef and pork flavor (at least to my palate); the veal, light and buttery, but with some lemon juice, I would think, to balance the sweetness of the meat. The straw and hay noodles were very good. The tortelli.... the fennel seed in the potato mixture was just right, the hint of saffron under the bolognese. I don't know whether to say it was "transporting" or "blanking fantastic" :-

              )

              Our service was fine. :-) To explain the smile emoticon, they went to seat us outside, but my wife prefers indoors, so back in we went to be waited on by our waiter who freely admitted in the first minute that it was his second day at the restaurant. He did fine. I wanted to turn him loose for what would probably be the first time of him pacing a meal with one salad and 4 pasta dishes, but he was reasonably afraid. No matter, the timing on the salad and the first pasta course was fine. And then he waited for us ask to start the second round. Since the rush had faded, this worked fine, putting the second pasta course on the table right when we wanted it.

              Sorry to be posting such a love song, but I've been waiting a year and half to get here after first hearing about the place on Twitter from someone. It was worth the wait.

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