chicago italian near downtown
recommendation for Italian. staying downtown chicago
We have a lot of good to great ones in the neighborhoods comprising downtown Chicago: Piccolo Sogno (River West), Piccolo Sogno Due (River North), Vivere (Loop), Café Spiaggia (Mag Mile), Tesori (Loop), Terzo Piano (Loop - dinner only on Thursdays), Coco Pazzo (River North), Gioco (South Loop), Coco Pazzo Café (Mag Mile), Trattoria No. 10 (Loop), Nico Osteria (Gold Coast). That's the order in which I would rank them, starting with the very best... but all of these are at least pretty good, and I wouldn't split hairs arguing over these rankings. In fact, I would probably consider going to one that's closer over one that's further away and ranks higher. (You don't mention where in downtown Chicago you are staying; it covers quite a wide area, three miles north to south.) All of these are open for lunch too.
The prices at these places don't vary all THAT much from one to another. At all of them, I find myself typically paying $60-80 per person (including appetizer, entrée, dessert, moderate wine and tax/tip), which is basically the upper half of your $75-45 group. So no, the rankings wouldn't change based on price. (I didn't mention Spiaggia, which would significantly exceed that range.) And I don't think you're going to find any nice Italian restaurant downtown where you can expect to have a complete dinner for under $45 including wine and tax/tip. You can do that for lunch, or with pizza, or a few small plates at Quartino or Bar Toma, or just a single pasta dish or possibly entree, but not a complete three-course dinner (app/pasta, entrée, dessert; or app, pasta, entrée), even with splitting one of the three courses.
Even at Anteprima - which is my top pick for great Italian food at a bargain price, thanks to their prix fixe special Sundays-Thursdays, $29 for almost any three courses (and is not downtown) - I usually find myself paying in the $50-65 range, which isn't all that much less than the above group and is still in that same $45-75 range. I'd probably rank Anteprima tops regardless of price for the outstanding food, and not because it's slightly less money than the previous group. www.anteprimachicago.net
One venue I would add for consideration is Balena; my favorite Italian venue in Chicago. Some of the best service you will receive in Chicago, really cool decor/ambiance, consistently excellent food (the pizzas and pastas are among the best I have consumed anywhere but nearly everything on the menu I have tried has been excellent) and a fantastic beverage program to boot. Prices are very reasonable for the portions and quality. It would fall in the $45-$75 per/person with wine category.
i was really impressed by the friendliness of the staff! the food was delicious and the atmosphere very low key and fun!