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Jan 6, 2011 06:36 PM

Need recs to impress Dad

My dad is coming into town this weekend, and I want to take him somewhere really great Sunday night. He is a big Italian buff, and previously I have taken him to Cafe Spiaggia, Piccolo Sogno, and Merlo on Maple (all fabulous). Can anyone recommend another great Italian? I would like to take him to Little Italy - Davanti Enoteca is not the style I'm looking for. Any recs would be greatly appreciated!

Cafe Spiaggia
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Piccolo Sogno
464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

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  1. Have you considered Spiaggia? It's easily the best Italian restaurant in Chicago, and the only truly high-end restaurant specializing in Italian. It's in a class by itself. That being said, it's also very expensive, and formal (jackets required). But it's the ultimate, most impressive Italian restaurant in Chicago.

    >> I would like to take him to Little Italy

    If you would like to take him to Little Italy, you can do so. However, I think our best and most creative Italian restaurants are elsewhere. In addition to the ones you mentioned and Spiaggia, I would add Vivere, Cibo Matto, Coco Pazzo, and Pane Caldo. I have not yet been to the Florentine but Todd Stein's cuisine when he was at Cibo Matto was equally worthy, so I'm going to guess the Florentine merits consideration as well.

    >> Davanti Enoteca is not the style I'm looking for.

    I'm not sure what you mean by that. I haven't been to Davanti Enoteca but from reading its menu, its "style" seems to be consistent with the three places you think were fabulous.

    6 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks for the recs! In regards to the Davanti comment, it seems it mostly small plates and pizza, with a few pasta dishes. Looks great, but don't think my dad would be into it.

      1. re: nsxtasy

        Also - what is your opinion on A Tavola or La Scarola?

        A Tavola
        2148 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

          1. re: txinchicago

            Scarola is an always very good to great old-school italian joint. Make sure to call ahead or you will be standing outside (or what we do is give our name to Hernando and then go over to Emmits of Ocean's 11 fame for a drink). For a dad, this would be great. Tons of italian american regulars.

            La Scarola Italian Restaurant
            721 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654

            1. re: jbontario

              Duh, go to Richard's bar instead of Emmits if you're waiting for La Scarola (which is a great restaurant). Best crooner juke-box in the country, pics of famous Italian Americans (and infamous...), the oldest bartender in the city, I could go on... had many a drink there ...

              Or just blow off the crowds and go to Bella Notte a little farther down Grand Ave. it's as formal as you want it to be and just as good as Scarola.

              I'm a fan of Tuscany on Taylor, but my uncle knows the guy so we get "specials" that maybe the tourists don't.

              Tuscany on Taylor
              1014 W Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60607

              Bella Notte Restaurant
              1374 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

            2. re: txinchicago

              A Tavola claims "Italian" but I would categorize it as that. Very good, just not "Italian" all the time. What about Rose Angelis on Wrightwood? More traditional but amazing, affordable, unique specials.

              A Tavola
              2148 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

              Rose Angelis
              1314 W Wrightwood Ave Ste 1, Chicago, IL 60614

          2. If you're willing to travel to Andersonville check out Anteprime, it's spectacular. Not your typical "red sauce" Italian. Pastas are wonderful and made in house. The fish is always great and their ribeye with arugula is my fave!

            1 Reply
            1. re: geg5150

              Andersonville is about 7 miles from downtown Chicago - 20-25 minutes by cab, 40-50 minutes by el (including a 10-minute walk from the Berwyn station), and even longer by bus. That's an awfully long way to go, especially when there are so many great Italian places close by in the downtown area.