Behind the waterfront restaurant’s brushed-metal façade, a tempting bill of fare enraptures taste buds with gourmet burgers and wraps, fresh seafood, and shareable appetizers. During warm months, diners lounge upon the open-air patio, gazing across the stone-clad banks of the Chicago River while canvassing passing seagulls for fish recommendations. Inside, a warmly lit spread of sleek polished woods, slate walls, and cityscape vistas frames meals with an elegant, cosmopolitan touch. An impressive beer and cocktail list accompanies mouthwatering finger foods or main plates of pasta, while burgers satisfy appetites and consciences with sustainable and hormone-free beef from Niman Ranch.
Rittergut Wine Bar Restaurant & Social Club crafts the perfect wine, seafood, and steak experience, with seating that overlooks the Chicago River. Wine by the glass and bottle from the vineyards of Spain, Austria, France, and Italy complements charcuterie and imported cheese plates stocked with wild boar salami or herb-laden garrotxa goat cheese, much like the contents of an enophile’s personal bomb shelter. The tasting bar and private wine rooms set the stage for uninterrupted swilling, while dining rooms bathed in amber light host feasts of lamb burgers seasoned with Moroccan spices. Arched ceilings draw the eye downward to exposed brick walls and hardwood floors indoors, and a riverside patio with dark wicker booths and wooden tables perch patrons over ebbing crests and bottled messages that implore you to try the salmon.
Amid exposed bricks and flickering candlelight, hundreds of wines, craft beers, aged spirits, and seasonal cocktails delight palates, earning The Tasting Room accolades such as Best Wine Bar, Best Lounge, and Best Romantic Bar in Best of Citysearch 2009. Like giddy produce matchmakers, educated sommeliers and consultants pair wines by the glass, bottle, or flight with a seasonal menu of crisp, house-made flat breads, artisan cheeses, and craft charcuterie. Simmering pots of fondue slowly bubble atop tables, heating thick cheeses and sweet dipping chocolate. In the upstairs lounge, plush couches flank low tables, and windows host skyline views and the jealous glares of mouthless stars.
At Quartino, communal Italian dining unfolds over two floors and an outdoor balcony during the warmer months. When traversing its mighty expanse, you may see diners passing small plates of house-made pickled vegetables, duck prosciutto, or veal meatball sliders. Neapolitan pizzas arrive to tables piping hot from a brick oven, crowned with made-from-scratch mozzarella and toppings such as roasted portabellas and grilled zucchini. It’s all part of a menu dreamed up by Executive Chef John Coletta. Diners can pair his samplings, as well as entrees such as imported pasta and organic veal skirt steak, with more than 30 handpicked wines, which wait behind the bustling bar to be drunken or used by the kitchen staff for after-hours games of spin the bottle.
In a spacious and bustling loft space, Piece’s doughsmiths twirl crispy New Haven–style thin-crust pizzas to pair with house-crafted microbrews. A triad of pizza bases—red, white, and mozzarella-free plain—balance premium ingredients better than Italy’s top runway models, with toppings that include mashed potatoes, clams, and ricotta cheese. Led by brewmaster Jonathan Cutler, Piece concocts award-winning beers, such as the rye-based Worryin Ale or the Top Heavy Hefeweizen, in gleaming silver vats next door to the dining room. Parties can intersperse crispy bites with raucous cheers as they watch one of 11 46-inch plasma TVs, which punctuate the walls with the soft glow of sports games or documentaries about uranium. Amateur vocal cords strut their stuff during standard karaoke on Thursday nights, as well as live-band karaoke on Saturday nights.
Michael Dorf stood with his brother Josh, smiling over the barrel filled with wine from grapes they'd just crushed, fermented, and pressed. He claims that despite tastings and classes, he'd never begun to understand wine until this moment. As his understanding grew, he laid the foundations for City Winery: a full winery facility, restaurant, and concert venue inside urban Chicago. He now watches over more than 400 international wines and 20 house wines. Inside the winery, these wines—made from nine US and international varietals—age inside stainless steel tanks and American and French oak barrels. Here, staffers lead winemaking classes, letting visitors join the crushing and fermenting process, and showing them how make private barrels and fill custom juice boxes or bottles pasted with labels of their own design.
These monolithic tanks and barrels can be seen through floor-to-ceiling windows from most of the restaurant's rooms, where servers ferry Executive Chef Andres Barrera's dishes, each a blend of Italian, French, Spanish, and Middle-Eastern flavors. The culinary team crafts small and large plates of artisanal cheeses, seafood, and flatbreads—which they make using the winery's own wine lees as yeast. In the restaurant and Barrel Room tasting bar, staffers pour housemade wines piped fresh from the cellar through 14 taps, while visitors bask in the glow from hard wood and floor to ceiling windows. Patrons dine on a ground floor lit by soft blue lights and hanging lamps fashioned from old wine bottles, as well as a mezzanine level looking out on the city skyline. Private dining rooms gather guests around long communal tables, stretched between exposed brick walls. In the show venue, comedians, live musicians, and slapstick-prone stage crew members entertain audiences under the glow of tabletop candles.