Chicago | Illinois | Italian | Melanzane05 Apr 2017 09:07 am

An Italian gem – varied and extensive menu, great bread, great service and reasonable wine choices with fair pours.

The house salad (enough to share) with balsamic dressing and pecans was fresh – no wilted greens here! The melanzane appetizer was  lightly breaded and topped with just the right amount of tomatoes, garlic, oil and mozzarella. The egg noodle carbonara was one of the best I’ve ever had – I tend to large portions with plenty of cream sauce and pancetta (definitely should have been a shared entree). The grilled octopus with balsamic was OK but tough (not usually a fan but decided to try it so I may not be best judge). Can’t wait to go back and make this one of my regular haunts (this place originally opened years ago on Peterson Avenue and at the time was noted as a real cut above the usual area restaurants – don’t know why I stopped frequenting this place but I’m back).

Via Veneto

6340 North Lincoln Avenue

Chicago, IL 60659

(773)267-0888

Street parking and at adjacent medical building evenings and Sunday

open 7 days

 

Chicago | Illinois | Italian08 Jan 2017 12:00 pm

This Andersonville spot boasts an extensive menu with good cooking – and portion sizes easy to share. Bread plate and salads that accompany entrees will convince you to forego appetizers. Always daily specials including wines. Wait staff is attentive and table busing impressive (but you may have to slow down plate removal – ask to wait until all in your party have finished eating); pasta entrees usually justify a take home container.

Many thumbs up for this landmark restaurant in a trendy neighborhood.

Free parking across the street next to the bakery.

Calo Restaurant

5343 North Clark Street

Chicago, IL 60640

(773)271-7782

 

California | Italian | Santa Cruz01 Nov 2016 08:43 am

Gem of authenticity with owners from New York with Sicilian background.

Wow! The Sunday Gravy which took hours to prepare was the perfect Bolognese style pasta sauce (though the word sauce does not give this thick and luscious staple of good cooking any justice). Pat Bruno’s recipe from one of the Chicago newspapers has been attempted in Chicago several times with some success and Lillian’s comes in close.

Appetizers are well prepared; try their gnocchi (they melt in your mouth)! Bread is perfect and wine choices adequate and fairly priced.

Location is great with plenty of parking nearby (and away from the hustle and bustle of “downtown” Santa Cruz and the waterfront).

Lillian’s

1148 Soquel Ave.

Santa Cruz, CA 95062

(831)425-2288

Closed Monday

Open 4 to 9 pm (Sat & Sun until 10 pm)

 

 

California | Fairfax | Italian11 Jan 2014 02:23 pm

Great little spot with wine from casks made to owner’s specifications – both the red and white were good.

Shared freshly made ravioli with pumpkin squash filling – they split the order in the kitchen – always a good sign.

We will definitely be back.

Small spot so reservations would be a good idea during prime dining time.

Fradelizio’s Ristorante Italiano

35 Broadway

Fairfax, CA 94930

(415)459-1618

Italian | San Francisco | Tony's Top Ten05 Dec 2013 09:37 am

This one makes my Top Ten!

Chef/Owner Sergio Giusti brings his home cooking knowledge from a small town near Firenze – and his food is some of the best Italian food I have eaten outside of Italy. He spent time in Chicago for years and knows all of the better Chicago Italian restaurants and their chefs (La Scarola, Piccolo Sogno, Bruna’s, Coco Pazzo, etc.) – I am sorry he left Chicago!

This small, noisy restaurant in a happening part of San Francisco (you definitely need a reservation most nights) has an exciting ambiance (more like a New York spot) – but why not go where the in-crowd goes? One of his specialties is gnocchi with a light cream tomato sauce – the gnocchi melt in your mouth. The roast chicken is perfectly prepared with the right spices and tenderness. The Veal Saltimbocca Alla Romano was tender with just the right amount of prosciutto and fontina cheese.

Salt alert: none needed here – Sergio does not mask the flavor of his cooking with too much salt – what a concept.

Next time I will have the Malanzane Alla Leonardo Da Vinci – my quest for the best Malanzane continues.

Wine list is thorough but not ridiculous; nice Barbera de Alba and Dolcetta de Alba choices along with other great Italian wines.

Also, the prices are very reasonable.

1429 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 392-8585
Firenze by Night website

Chicago | Illinois | Italian | Melanzane20 Sep 2013 04:58 pm

Great little place near the Chicago River and Wrigley Building & Trump Tower for delicious Milanese di Melanzane sandwiches (and others) as well as great pizzas. The Eggplant alla Parmigiana is also good. Wines available by the glass. This is a family run business and deserves support – it’s right next to a McD – and location superb. Al Fresco dining weather permitting, but last time I was told that alcohol was not allowed outdoors. Anyway, give this place a try.

405 North Wabash
Chicago, IL
312-755-1255
Bongiorno’s website

Chicago | Illinois | Italian | Tony's Top Ten30 Aug 2013 12:00 pm

Still one of the best restaurants in Chicago – last visit was wonderful with pasta tasting menu to accommodate my fish allergies although seafood fest was in full swing – but other 3 diners enjoyed the standard seafood themed dishes. Wine choices are of course exhaustive and somewhat pricey (but this is a heavy-hitter kind of a place); nevertheless, I did some homework and found a wonderful Gattinara (my fondness for friends in Alba near this wine region makes it  special for me) and Barolo by the glass.

Service was more than excellent, timing was perfect from 730 to 1100 pm (we were celebrating), and everyone in the place is professional.


Our favorite for special occasions; also try the cafe’.
The tasting menu in the cafe’- with truffles (when in season) and selected wines – is a must.

One Magnificent Mile
980 North Michigan Avenue, Second Level
Chicago, Illinois 60611
(312) 280-2750

Southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Oak Street

Their web site has information about their specialty dishes, as well as excerpts of other reviews of the restaurant.

California | Carmel | Italian | Melanzane23 Sep 2006 01:30 pm

The beautiful town of Carmel has one of the best little Italian restaurants in California. Strolling the idyllic, artistic, tree-lined, quiet town and arriving at an elegant little spot like Mondo’s is a great experience. It’s what vacations are all about.

The service staff treated us with great care and even moved us to the corner window spot after the previous occupants left. It all began with good bread and good wine – a Durney Vineyard 98 Carmel Valley Pinot Noir. I have to admit my homemade pinot noir has a bit to go to compete with this quality – but what a nice new CA wine area to navigate and discover.

Sharing the Melanzane and special veal entree were excellent choices. The Melanzane is among the best. Veal was Provimi as you would expect in the land of healthy and quality food (luv ya – California). Tutto Mindo will be a sure visit whenever we are in Carmel.

Dolores Street between Ocean & 7th

Carmel, CA 93921

(831)624-8977

www.mondos.com

California | Italian | Monterey23 Sep 2006 12:19 pm

Monterey has loads of fine restaurants, but this one was chosen away from the tourist areas but close enough to our hotel near the ocean; we do have a good nose for restaurants.

The restaurant is branded ” A Local’s Place” though we could not assess this branding as we were there midweek and late in the day. We shared a spinach salad (oops, guess not in the future until the fresh spinach scare is clarified/resolved) and ricotta basil raviola and I had minestrone as well. Wine choices are adequate and the pours are fair; guess the increasing popularity of Monterey and Carmel Valley wines has improved things at Joe’s.

Service was very friendly and their open kitchen approach should be a standard; nothing to hide here.

2149 North Fremont Street

Monterey, CA

(831)655-3355

www.montereyjoes.com

California | Corte Madera | Italian | Melanzane | Pizza05 Jul 2006 11:59 am

Mario & Tony (the chef) Farahmand transplanted themselves from Iran to California,with a childhood (and growing up in the Italian restaurant business) in Italy before Corte Madera. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your journey to an area we visit often. I will again praise an eggplant dish prepared exactly to my liking – tender, not greasey, with a fresh marinara sauce consisting mainly of diced, flavorful tomatoes. Wow! Other dishes with my companions included a really thin crust pizza with prosciutto, and a pasta/chicken dish – both very good. The focaccia style bread was a hit with the fresh garlic/spices/olive oil.

Wine choices are extensive for such a small place – variety from many places, and some very decent Barbera and Dolcetta selections by the glass and bottle. Wine prices are fair.

Sharing a tiramasu was not a bad idea either. Coffee is good, and service very friendly (even with a 2.5 year old in tow). Friendly staff as well as elegant/casual surroundings.

18 Tamalpais Drive
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415)927-2316
www.benissimos.com

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