Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday; dinner: seven days
Traditional Italian in the Heart of Italy neighborhood. Cash only.
For me, it was love at first bite of lobster ravioli, handmade and enfolding creamy crustacean, with a vodka sauce that transcended the cliche to achieve a fine balance of richness and acidity. "Seafood and Pasta" is a delicious dish of noodles, calamari, lobster, and shrimp with an encircling crown of mussels, in a light but intensely flavorful tomato broth. The only weak link in the chain was Chicago's own chicken Vesuvio, but even it packed more flavor than you might find elsewhere. Pork chops Lugana are grilled, seasoned with Provencal herbs in the style of Lombardy, and draped with lightly sauteed herb-flecked peppers, onions, and potatoes. A Milanese Fernet-Branca was recommended as a postprandial digestive, and with a house-made cannoli, it proved a perfect way to "settle up." I liked the food here so much I literally busted a button on my trousers, a sad though strangely satisfying sensation.
This is a cozy neighborhood place, with a bar and booths up front, the dining in back. Service was simpatico, making us feel like regulars though wed never stepped in before. There's a full stock, but the house is strongest on wines and Italian aperitifs. —David Hammond