Balena‘s dinner menu is filled with traditional dishes and modern ingredients: light starters include wood-roasted shishito peppers and a bone marrow bruschetta. The pasta and rotisserie selections are similarly unique – the tagliolini nero (black squid ink pasta) is particularly popular and accompanied by sea urchin and fresh crab. Served alongside the delicious cuisine is Balena’s extensive selection of local and regional wines. For dessert, enjoy tiramisu, blueberry crostata or Amaro flights.
Balena, 1633 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312-867-3888
Quartino boasts a gorgeous outdoor terrace with a terrific view. During the colder months, the two-floor indoor space is elegant and intimate. The small plates, ranging from creamy duck prosciutto and Gorgonzola dolce to pancetta wrapped dates and carpaccio, are especially flavorsome alongside a glass of wine from Quartino’s extensive collection. Other classic dishes include the crispy polenta fries, house-made gnocchi and braised pork shank – the plates are served family-style.
Quartino Ristorante, 626 N. State St, Chicago, IL, USA,. +1 312 698 5000
Nestled in the hip Logan Square, the warm atmosphere of Buona Terra Ristorante reflects its family-owned spirit. Rotating daily menus keeps things fresh and interesting: popular dishes include ravioli con vittelo, squares of pasta filled with veal, fresh mozzarella and a brandy cream sauce. Buona Terra also offers special chef-led events and a three-course prix-fixe option is available.
Consistently labelled one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, Piccolo Sogno serves traditional recipes. The pastas combine complex ingredients with hand-made dough – standouts being the frutti di mare – a dish of black spaghetti brimming with mussels, clams, calamari, and shrimp – as well as the green and white ribbon pasta with veal ragu. The pizza is locally considered to be among the best in the region, hand-tossed and baked in a hot wood oven. To accompany the great food is an extensive wine list, featuring bottles from across Italy.
Piccolo Sogno, 464 N. Halsted St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 421 0077