Hype is anathema to a cynic such as you. Yet some places fulfill–dare you say, surpass–expectations from the very start. Some places not only please, but they promise. They stand as a bastion of dynamic cookery and gracious service that is sure to elevate the expression of those arts across the entire city. They beg you not merely to check them once off of your bucket list, but affirm the splendor of those rare restaurants that embody a living organism.
With more and more restaurants embracing the world’s most popular culinary genre, it pays to know just which vision of “Italy” one will be exploring in a given dining room.
Featuring: Alla Vita and a Bellemore Post-Mortem
While it is too early in the restaurant’s lifespan to write a full review, you thought–just for fun–you would put Rose Mary’s seven different pasta dishes through the ringer. Given that Joe Flamm is something of a wizard with the form–anyone who has tried Spiaggia’s truffle gnocchi can attest to that–and that his pastas form the most distinct core of the menu at present, you think this ranking can prove instructive in the interim.
Ciccio Mio is the red sauce joint of your dreams, the greatest common divisor of every good thing that every Italian-American restaurant has done in the century (or so) since the diaspora wove the trodden souls of Naples, Palermo, and Genoa into the fabric of domestic life. Does that mean Ciccio Mio is the best Italian restaurant in Chicago? Why, yes, it does. Tied for “best,” at least, depending on just what one considers “Italian” and whether diaspora culture the whole country over is destined for preservation or renovation. “Authenticity,” you guess, is the name of the game, and Hogsalt’s newest restaurant brings one of modern dining’s most contentious questions to the fore.