6 Italian Restaurants in Chicago That Even the Godfather Would Approve Of
From the most exquisite dishes in fine dining places to homey restaurants dishing out plates of pasta, here are the best places to eat Italian food in Chicago.
Chicago is crazy about Italian food. There are so many fantastic Italian restaurants in this city serving the rich and creamy dishes from the north and the warm Mediterranean-inspired flavors of the south. Whether you decide to splurge with a fancy meal in a fine dining ristoria, or have a great meal in a cozy trattoria, here are our favorite Italian restaurants in Chicago.
Balena is an Italian restaurant that screams elegance—with its high ceilings, a bar filled with leather decorations, and arched windows that let you peek inside the kitchen where the chef prepares the most delectable Italian dishes.
Award-winning chef Chris Pandel serves delectable Italian dishes, and has been nominated for the Jean Banchet Award. Here at Balena, they make sure that they only use the highest-quality ingredients, and prepare it as carefully as they can to ensure that what comes out of the kitchen is the best dish you will ever have.
From pastas and pizzas, to a wide array of authentic Italian dishes, you will surely enjoy your food here. Their must try is the Balena Truffle Pizza— which is adorned with black truffles. Popular main entrees include the swordfish served with pickled persimmons and finished with an olive oil curd, and Wagyu skirt steak marinated with raw mushrooms and served with a porcini mustard sauce. For a classic Italian chicken dish, try the Salt and Pepper Chicken Thighs with carrots, mint and ricotta salata. If you like pork, order the roasted porchetta served with polenta and a red onion salad.
Strozzapreti with Rabbit Sugo
Balena also makes their desserts in-house, and must-tries are their Apple Tart and the Chocolate Torta. They also have an extensive array of wines and whiskeys—imported and local options available— so ask the service crew what is a good pair for your dishes.
1633 N. Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60614
Sunday: 10:00am-2:00pm; 4:30pm-9:00pm
Bruna's Ristorante has been serving authentic Italian cuisine for more than 81 years. Opened in 1933, Bruna's Ristorante has been a favorite among the locals, and has managed to attain a huge clientele.
From northern Italian cuisine—which is still served until now— to the owners’ own original recipes, the owners have managed to make the restaurant into an Italian haven where customers can enjoy and have a pleasant meal with its calm atmosphere and friendly staff.
Bruna's Ristorante’s must-try pastas are Bruna's Rigatoni, Ravioli di Ricotta, and Gnocchi di Patate. If you like lamb, Bruna's Veal Scaloppine is a wonderful dish, but do save room for dessert because Bruna's Ristorante has some great desserts: try the Tiramisu, Cannoli, and Dolce del Giorno.
Bruna's Ristorante also has a wide selection of wines from both Italy and California, which are great to pair with their dishes. One bite of any dish you order here will certainly whisk you away to Italy.
2424 S. Oakley Ave.
Chicago, IL 60608
Mondays to Thursdays: 11:00am-10:00pm
Fridays to Saturdays: 11:00am-11:00pm
Cere’s Table has been named "Best New Restaurant" by the Chicago magazine and has attained awards from the Michelin Guide. This Broadway establishment has been serving fabulous Italian dishes since 2009.
Cere's Table serves seasonal Italian dishes which embodies the Italian lifestyle and respects the history, process, and techniques of Italian cuisine. They have a changing seasonal menu where they maintain partnerships with local farmers who provide the restaurant with the best seasonal quality ingredients. Cere's Table is a part of the sustainable movement where they support organic and pesticide-free produce, and also help the local farmers by purchasing from them.
Now, for suggestions on dishes that you should try in Cere's Table: for your starter, order the Grilled Radicchio—which is perfectly poached egg with endive croutons, finished with a parmigiano vinaigrette. For your primi, I suggest trying the Risotto di Mare, which is perfectly cooked risotto with lobster, rock shrimps, and tarragon. For your secondi, go for their Roasted Amish Half Chicken, served with potatoes and carrots with pesto. End your meal with a lovely dessert—you should have the Salted Caramel Budino (a rich and creamy custard or pudding) with some Espresso Marbella.
Cere's Table, like all great Italian establishments, boasts of a huge wine and cocktail list that perfectly complements your orders. A lot of these wines are offered by the glass, so you don’t have to get stuck with a single bottle for the entire meal if you’re dining alone or with just one other.
3124 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60657
Phone Number: 773-922-4020
Sundays to Thursdays: 5:30pm – 10:00pm
Fridays and Saturdays: 5:00pm – 10:30pm
For more than 20 years, Coco Pazzo has been serving authentic Tuscan cuisine so marvelously that even the Italian government has given them a seal of approval for their Tuscan menu. Coco Pazzo has a lot of awards under its belt: the prestigious "AAA Four Diamond Award", "Multiple Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence", and awards from local prominent papers like the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times.
Coco Pazzo has been serving traditional dishes with contemporary interpretations, preserving the same old flavors, but the cooking style is updated with new techniques and ingredients. The pastas, breads, sauces, and even the ragu is made in house daily, which ensures freshness and high quality.
Planning a full course meal? Here’s a nice suggestion: start with the Mozzarella di Bufala, which is imported mozzarella with marinated tomatoes and arugula, and the Pate di Fegantini—chicken liver pate, carrot marmalade, and pan forte gelatin. Both of them would beautifully ready your palette for the lovely dishes to come. One must have the pasta in Coco Pazzo, for it is sublime! If you are a meat lover like this writer, then I suggest you try the Rigatoni alla Buttera (house made fennel sausage with sweet peas, tomatoes, parmesan, and finished with cream). If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then go for the Linguine alle Vongole, which features Manila clams cooked in white wine and herbs. For your secondi, have some Quagliette Arrosto—which is wood oven roasted quail, served with polenta quatirolo, figs, grapes, and topped off with saba (a syrup made from grapes), and for the perfect finish to your meal: dessert! Or dolce, as the Italians say. The classic favorite Panna Cotta would be a marvelous choice, or the Tortino di Limone for something zesty. Or you can end it with a Formaggi Plate, assorted cheeses served with bread and fruits.
Coco Pazzo has a huge selection of excellent wines in their cellar. If you’re having a hard time deciding what to get for your meal, the wine master will happily make his recommendations. After all, what is an Italian meal without great vino, yes?
300 W. Hubbard St,
River North Chicago, IL, 60654
Phone Number: 312-836-0900
Lunch: Mondays to Fridays: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner: Mondays to Thursdays: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Fridays and Saturdays: 5:00pm – 10:30pm
Sundays: 5:00pm – 9:30pm
Davanti Enoteca is one of those Italian restaurants where you will notice that every detail was carefully researched, from the décor to the food, to guarantee authenticity. Davanti Enoteca exudes a rustic vibe inside the restaurant with the polished wood wine bar and décor of exposed brick walls, old recycled milk bottles, old wine boxes, and even old potato sacks!
For food, Davanti Enoteca goes for simple but delicious dishes. For their starters, you might want to try the chicken liver pate, apple radish, and truffle honey that are placed inside small individual mason jars and served with Tuscan toast. The truffle egg toast with asparagus and fotina is a good way to amp up your appetite. Or you can go for their boards that are filled with preserved meats and cheeses.
One of the best sellers is the mascarpone polenta with ragu of the day. This creamy, hearty dish will have you yearning for more. Want pizza? Davanti Enoteca boasts of exceptional pizzas in their menu—the bestseller being the Prosciutto e Rucola (which is prosciutto di parma with fresh mozzarella, fotina, and arugula.) They also serve superb pastas—you should get the Riccio di Mare e Granchio, which is linguini with sea urchin and crab. For seafood lovers (like yours truly), that very description alone should start the drooling.
Have something sweet to cap off your meal with— Davanti Enoteca is well known for its Key Lime Tart with balsamic reduction, the Strawberry Crostata (a baked pie), and finally, the chocolate-y Torta Bacio.
Weekend brunch is from 11:00am to 2:00pm.
Here at Davanti Enoteca, they only use top-of-the-line ingredients, and only the freshest, so you know the food they serve you will be the best of the best.
1359 W Taylor Street
Chicago IL, 60607
Phone Number: 312-226-5550
Mondays to Thursdays: 11:30am – 10:00pm
Fridays: 11:30am – Midnight
Saturdays: 11:00am – Midnight
Sundays: 11:00am – 10:00pm
If you love vino with your Italian food, then come to Piccolo Sogno, where they offer over 400 wines for you to choose from. The restaurant has an outdoor area where you can enjoy your meal on a sunny day and is considered as one of the most romantic spots in Chicago.
For pasta, I highly recommend the ravioli that is stuffed with four different kinds of cheeses, drizzled with Marsala glazed with butter, and topped with pine nuts and Parmesan curls. If you want some protein try their Rosticciana, which is beef short ribs which is braised for hours with squash puree, red wine, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Seafood lovers will enjoy the "Sapore" di Mare—which is basically an assorted shellfish and fish stew served with garlic toast.
464 N Halsted St,
Chicago, IL 60642
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