Fashioned out of an old speakeasy, Paramount Room still exudes the weary cool of its jazz age predecessor. However, chef Stephen Dunne also keeps his kitchen refreshingly with the times, crafting a menu of pub-inspired seasonal eats that earned the restaurant a coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand rating and the praise of local gourmands at Chicago Magazine, Centerstage, and Daily Candy. Small plates of chilled oysters and steak tartare encourage socialable sharing, and entrees of cider-braised lamb shank, buttermilk fried chicken, and a bacon-wrapped filet embody new twists on old favorites. True to its origins, Paramount Room also houses a top-notch bar, where resident beverage manager Jacquie Armanetti and her team preside over a tap list of ever-rotating craft beers, suggest pairings from an extensive wine list and sling cocktails inspired by both Prohibition favorites and more modern mixology.
Toeing the line between corner bar and gourmet grill, The Point serves old-fashioned comfort food alongside vegan and gluten-free fare. The eclectic menu matches the decor, which effortlessly blends exposed brick and timeworn racing photos with sleek chrome light fixtures and sentient bar stools. Diners can plumb new depths with intriguing menu items such as the crab cake with caper remoulade, the vegan mushroom broth risotto, and the tilapia ceviche with orange and lime. Or they can rely on old standards such as the Point burger with cheddar and bacon or the chicken wings, which come in chipotle barbecue or gorgonzola-bacon. It's not all rib-sticking entrees, either. In her glowing review, the Chicago Reader's Julia Thiel praised the lineup of libations as well, saying, "The drinks menu is just as impressive as the food, offering a dozen beers on tap... another 20-odd in bottles and cans, plus a dozen wines by the glass, the same number of cocktails, and a good selection of spirits, particularly whiskey and tequila."
When native Italian Ciro Longobardo and renowned chef Tony Priolo teamed up to open Piccolo Sogno, they had modest aims. The restaurant's name translates to “little dream,” and theirs was to recreate the experience of Italian dining—a simple, neighborly affair—in Chicago. What began as a little dream has quickly turned into one of the most talked-about restaurants in the city, thanks to Priolo’s wide selection of regional Italian dishes and an open-air patio that earned the Chicago Reader's pick for Best Alfresco Dining in 2012. On warmer nights, a canopy of green and purple foliage traps the aromas of Priolo’s hand-tossed pizzas, Milanese pork loins, and Mediterranean sea bass. Though he spends much of his time on managerial duties, Longobardo’s contributions to the menu should not be overlooked. The vino specialist has curated a list of more than 400 Italian wines, each carefully chosen for its distinctive and complementary flavors. The knowledgeable staff can recommend one of these wines to pair with a homemade pasta dish or sip solo, either on the patio or amid the cerulean hues and sparkling chandeliers of the restaurant's luxurious dining room.