Best place in Chicago to sample salumi from Mario Batali's papa

694 Wine & Spirits

694 N. Milwaukee
312-492-6620

694wineandspirits.com

This wine bar, owned since late last year by Chris Dunstatter and Chip Dudley (a onetime Reader employee), is in fact the only place in town to get cured meats from Seattle's Salumi Artisan Cured Meats, a very small operation. As the story goes, Rodney Alex, former owner of what used to be Juicy Wine Bar, is a specialty food freak, and kept calling Armandino Batali, Mario's pop, asking to buy his products. After about nine months, Batali gave in, so for the last four years patrons have been able to enjoy a changing lineup of eight or nine selections including dario (salami seasoned with peppercorns and mace), mole (with cinnamon, chocolate and ancho pepper), finnochiona (with black peppercorn and fennel), lamb prosciutto, and culatello (spiced pork haunch). Dudley says his favorite is the finnochiona; mine is the luxuriously rich culatello. Wines by the glass, craft beers, boutique spirits, and a small menu of snacks, panini, and cheeses also are available in the two-story space with an outdoor deck. —Anne Spiselman