Authentic Italian food isn’t hard to come by when you’re in downtown Chicago; the area is full of traditional restaurants, many of which are family-owned and continue to use authentic recipes handed down through generations. Real Italian food that uses fresh ingredients, homemade marinara sauce, and made-from-scratch crusts and breads, offer the complete Italian experience. Chicago features some of the best in the Midwest, and here’s where you need to go for that great pizza pie!
For some Tuscan cuisine and lots of choices, make your reservation at Coco Pazzo on 300 W. Hubbard Street. This is your best pick if you enjoy marsala wine-based dishes, as the chef prepares the chicken marsala with a generous homemade marsala sauce. Make sure you save room for dessert at Coco Pazzo; the chocolate volcano, tiramisu, and classic Italian cheesecake are out of this world. Call (312) 836-0900 for reservations; pick an outdoor spot in the summer for a great excuse for people watching!
If you want something upscale, head over to Spiaggia on 980 N. Michigan Avenue. From aged cheese plates to perfect pasta, this restaurant goes the extra mile to please. Spiaggia is not only a great date place, but a fine restaurant for wedding receptions and special celebrations. You’ll enjoy the extensive wine list, and views of Lake Michigan from the exquisite dining room. Call (312) 280-2750 to enjoy chef Paul Bartolotta’s amazing creations; reservations are recommended all week, and you’ll need to dress up!
For an infusion of French cuisine, make your way to Gabriel’s for their wide selection of pasta, seafood, and meat dishes. The gorgeous patio and outdoor tables are a wonderful place to enjoy dinner in the summertime. Gabriel’s is famous for its veal Porterhouse and homemade mashed potatoes. Enjoy a glass of reserve wine and take in the classic setting. Call (847) 433-0031 for reservations.
When it’s robust flavors, a cozy atmosphere, and the warm feeling of a true Italian kitchen you want, make a stop at Campagnola on 815 Chicago Avenue. Here you’ll find classic but contemporary home-style cooking; the menu is filled with old-country dishes with a twist. The appetizers include some creative combinations of seafood, bruschetta, and some tasty wood-grilled sardines. Enjoy the rich desserts for the grand finale! Call (847) 475-6100 for reservations, definitely recommended on the weekends.
Tucked away on 1516 N. Wells Street is one of Chicago’s well kept secrets for an authentic Italian experience; Topo Gigio is a fantastic place to enjoy some of Italy’s finest creations that are literally grilled to perfection. Try the Eggplant Parmesan here for a dish you’ll never want to forget; piled high with breaded eggplant, chunky marinara sauce, and a good dose of melted parmesan cheese, this dish is the epitome of perfection. Other favorites include the Chicken Cacciatore and Grilled Calamari. Enjoy the outdoor garden in the summer with your glass of Pinot, and you’ll be transported to another world. Call (312) 266-9355 for reservations.
Finally, there’s no reason to leave Chicago without a visit to The Italian Village. Located at 71 W. Monroe Street, Vivere is your best choice for a gourmet Italian dish with contemporary flair. This restaurant is owned by the Capitanini family who own other Italian bistros and restaurants in the area; from authentic ‘peasant’ dishes to gourmet creations, you won’t be disappointed. Ravioli, classic meat lasagna, and a bevy of seafood dishes are sure to please most palettes. Enjoy a treat from the overflowing dessert case on your way out. Hint: the chocolate cake with truffles makes a great late-night indulgence! Call (312) 332-4040 for reservations.
On your visit to downtown Chicago, make sure you try at least one of the area’s top Italian restaurants. Chicago continues to be home to many Italian families who settled in the area in the early 1920s, and their recipes and cooking styles remain in true form in the local area. From chicken parmesan to homemade focaccia bread, you’ll find everything from rustic to contemporary Italian cuisine. Enjoy your share of authentic Italian flavor at these top places for Italian dining in downtown Chicago!