Buon Appetito: Chicago's Mouth-Watering Italian Food

Spiaggia is a place to see and be seen at the northern end of the Magnificent Mile.  One of the city's top restaurants, it continues to inspire and delight with dishes like Bigoli spaghetti with basil-fed snails, artichokes and spring garlic.  If Spiaggia is the super-luxe of Italian in Chicago, then Andersonville's Anteprima is its heart and soul.  A cozy interior, delightful outdoor seating, and innovative seasonal menu combine to make this north-side eatery one of the city’s most-favored restaurants.  Coco Pazzo’s chefs cover everything from traditional, authentic Italian to regional cuisine to modern fine dining.  Even the simplest dishes here (gnocchi alla parmagianno, and any of the pizzas) are made with such fresh flavors that make them some of the richest meals on the menu.  Piccolo Sogno offers more contemporary takes on Italian cuisine, such as Fontina-stuffed squash blossoms and succulent suckling pig roasted to perfection.  The wine list here begs to be ordered, poured, and sipped from an Italian piazza, a warm breeze in the air.  Osteria Via Stato offers one of the city’s best fixed-price meals--for just $38.95 per person, you’ll sample antipasti, two pastas, and an entree.  Seasonal dishes and Tuscan wines (on the pricier side) are the highlights on this menu.  Francesca’s on Taylor is a Little Italy standby.  The friendly atmosphere, excellent service, and northern Italian fare would make anyone feel at home.  Campagnola in Evanston offers rustic, country-style dishes like wood-grilled Muscovy duck with organic vegetables in a cozy, wood-laden environment.  Lakeview’s Angelina’s Ristorante serves up southern Italian delicacies.  This is a great place to stop by for brunch on the weekend.  Taverna 750 has an extremely strong lineup of small plates including pizzas, housemade pastas, and polenta specialties.  Housemade liqueurs and cellos complete the cocktail menu.  RoseAngelis in Lincoln Park offers numerous weekly specials including half price bottles of wine on Tuesday or dinner for two for $49 including a shared appetizer, two Caesar salads, two entrees, and a shared dessert.

Buon Appetito!

10 Rose Angelis
RoseAngelis is located in an assuming location in Lincoln Park. It's not quite as ostentatious as some of the higher end Italian eateries, but enter in and you'll feel right at home. They have a menu of special dishes that change each week which include pizza, soup, salad, manicotti, and pasta. Desserts are made daily in house. Try the Mezzalune al Burro: spinach pasta half moons stuffed with ricotta and pesto served in a seasoned browned butter sauce with sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Complete your meal with a bottle from their reserve wine list, and you've got yourself a complete Italian evening! (773-296-0081)

9 Taverna 750
Located in a newly renovated space in East Lakview/Boystown, Taverna 750 serves everything with style. This is a perfect place for an intimate dinner for two or a large party--they can accommodate anything. A spacious, open dining room and outdoor seating in the summertime, Taverna 750 maintains a chic sensibility while serving up affordable food and drink. The cocktail menu is full of gems, particularly if you're willing to try something from their house-made liqueur list (including lemoncello, grapefruitcello, pistachio liqueur or star-anise liqueur). Their menu of small plates, pizzas, salds, pastas, and vegetarian dishes is full of creative touches and surprises. Don't forget to try the house specialty--a braised pork shoulder served with parmesan polenta and basil oil. The incredibly friendly and welcoming staff will ensure you get exactly what you're looking for, even if it's simply a lovely night. ((773) 904-7466)

8 Angelina Ristorante
Angelina's is a neighborhood favorite. They are known for their fresh pasta, intimate interior, and friendly staff. One of their most popular meals is weekend brunch. Choose from one of the six delicious options on their champagne brunch menu and you'll get unlimited champagne, mimosas, kir royales, or bellinis for just $21. Their Lasagna di Verdura is a crowd pleaser: roasted tomato, mushroom, squash and spinach between layered fresh pasta, bubbling with baked cheese. Come in on any Monday night and enjoy a bottle of wine for just half of the regular price. If you come in with a Lakeview local on a Wednesday, you get 20% off of your bill. What's not to love? (773-935-5933)

7 Campagnola
Campagnola's chef Vince DiBattista works to get the most exquisite flavors out of simple, straight-forward, seasonal ingredients. His Evanston Italian restaurant has small yet full menu with dishes like wood-fired radicchio wrapped in bacon with basil aioli and goat cheese, penne with braised duck ragu, red wine, and porcini mushrooms, and trout with melted tomato, brown butter, lemon, and toasted almonds. With a rustic and relaxed interior, Campagnola is an extremely inviting spot: lots of warm wood touches, a staff who have worked together for years, and a quiet location in South Evanston. Try to save room for the toasted crème fraiche and walnut cake served with vanilla gelato! (847-475-6100)

6 Francesca's on Taylor
This neighborhood charmer earns high marks for its traditional trattoria atmosphere, friendly service, and Northern Italian and Tuscan-inspired fare. Start off with an appetizer of mussels in spicy tomato sauce before moving on to heartier matters, like pollo limone, rigatoni melanzane with roasted eggplant and mozzarella, and salmone pagliacci with broccoli, eggplant, garlic, and white wine. (312-829-2828)

5 Osteria Via Stato
The dining room is very late-night Italian, dimly lit with the sports channel. The bar will usually spot a few with their eyes fixed on the game. Know their wine and constantly change it up. The restaurant also offers the popular "Just Bring Me Wine" option, where servers take on the onus of selecting the perfect wine for your meal. Besides the thinnest crust in the city, antipasti like fresh mozzarella ciliegine are paired by a pasta (gemelli with sage and brown butteri, for example). (312-642-8450)

4 Piccolo Sogno
Entering Piccolo Sogno, you'll see a gorgeous marble bar, terrazzo floors, and glowing blue walls. Aside from the beautiful interior, the contemporary Italian menu is full of incredible dishes like carpaccio, fontina-stuffed squash blossoms, and delicious wood-fired pizzas. Pastas like meaty lasagna and entrees like roasted suckling pig will have you asking for more. A more affordable, off-the-beaten-path option than some of the downtown Italian eateries, Piccolo Sogno also has one of the best outdoor dining areas in the city (if not the country)--an ivy-fringed patio perfect on a warm summer evening. It's an ideal spot to enjoy a bottle of one of their excellent wines. (3124210077)

3 Coco Pazzo
Perfect for special occasions, this restaurant focuses on hearty Tuscan cuisine. The dining room has a spacious, airy interior, upscale but still comfortable. The food is full of assertive flavors, as evidenced by dishes like pappardelle with rabbit, roast pancetta-rolled pork loin, and herb-crusted half rack of lamb with artichokes and fried polenta. Any of the grilled game dishes is sure to please. The most popular dessert is cioccolato fondente, a chocolate volcano ready to erupt as soon as your fork hits it. (312-836-0900)

2 Anteprima
This trattoria's well-worn wooden tables are a testament to the quality of the ever-changing items on its menu. Crowds are a regular happenstance at Anteprima, where the homemade pasta is impossibly good. The ingredients are (for the most part) local, organic and reflect the best of "what's on" the market at any given time. You can expect dishes like tagliatelle with summer squash, basil and sundried tomatoes as well as crispy wild sockeye salmon served with Swiss chard and glazed shallots. (773-506-9990)

1 Spiaggia
For luxurious, upscale Italian dining, Spiaggia is a top pick. One of the town's most romantic dining rooms, it features sparkling platinum-and-white decor, sculpted steel light fixtures, and fantastic Lake Michigan views. The food is simplicity at its best, crafted with the finest aged cheeses, the freshest produce, and wonderful pastas. Delicious dishes include roasted scallops with Parmigiano Reggiano, tenderloin of rabbit, and an unforgettable citrus sea bass. Perfect wines, impeccable service, and irresistible desserts make this restaurant a winner in every category. An 8-course tasting menu is available for $165 per person. A pairing of 8 wines may be added for $90 per person. EL: Red Line to Chicago/State (312-280-2750)

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Maps and Directions

Rose Angelis 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
COST: $$
Taverna 750 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Group Friendly
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Lake View
Angelina Ristorante 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Delivery, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Wrigleyville
COST: $$$
Campagnola 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, European, Italian
Dining Options: Catering, Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Neighborhood: Evanston
COST: $$
Francesca's on Taylor 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Catering, Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
COST: $$$
Osteria Via Stato 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Dining Options: Family Friendly, Group Friendly
Neighborhood: River North
COST: $$
Piccolo Sogno 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Cuisine: Italian
Neighborhood: River West
COST: $$$
Coco Pazzo 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: River North
COST: $$
Anteprima 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Uptown
COST: $$
Spiaggia 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Catering, Disabled Accessible, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Sommelier, Wine Cellar
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Magnificent Mile
COST: $$$$