Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday; dinner: Monday-Saturday
Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11
Funky member of the Italian Village family where the decor overwhelms the food.
When a Saturday night found us feeling peckish in the Loop, our stomachs led us to the open-late Italian Village complex. Of the three rooms, each with their own feel and theme, we chose the ground-floor Vivere, for its bright, slightly gaudy room and contemporary seasonal menu. From a wine list as thick and comprehensive as the yellow pages, we settled on a 1990 Grand Cru burgundy (an excellent value at under $70). Starters consisted of a Caesar salad and melt-in-your-mouth lamb carpaccio, peppery with a horseradish mayonnaise and shaved fennel. I was happy with the reasonable portion sizes, satisfying without making me feel like a glutton. For mains, I was content with the rare duck breast served atop a chestnut puree, and one of my friends enjoyed her chicken breasts supercrunchy skin and the creamy polenta it was served with. The friendly, if hurried, service (we arrived after ten, so maybe they had their sights set on home), didnt blink at dividing a butternut squash ravioli into two portions. The ravioli were bright and pleasant tasting, and left a trail of browned butter on the palate (one of our party thought it was too rich and oily, but I thought it was delicious). By the time we finished our dinners, we were too full for dessert, but I was impressed with my well-executed espresso.
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