Fresh, old-school Italian cuisine served in a bustling eatery that's a favorite among celebrities.
While You're Waiting
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.
For the night owls of Chicago, just because it?s after midnight doesn?t mean that no one?s hungry. The folks at Jefferson Tap & Grille understand that, supplementing their bevy of beverages with an extensive menu available until the wee hours. Open for lunch and until at least 2 a.m. every night of the week?and until 4 a.m. Thursday?Friday and 5 a.m. on Saturday? they fuel after-hours revelry with hearty sandwiches and burgers, thin-crust pizzas with homemade sauce, and a respectable selection of gourmet appetizers. Classic brews stand ready to wash down each bite, the taps flowing with an ever-growing craft beer selection.
Vivo brings Randolph Street Market District diners Italian cuisine that's simple yet high quality, like the relativistic wave equations of Ettore Majorana. Begin your tour of Vivo's dinner menu with the wood-grilled asparagus and roasted peppers appetizer ($8) or the bruschetta starter ($8) before opting for a pasta entree, such as the rigatoni ($17) with Italian sausage and peas or the gnocchi ($17) with parmesan cream and black-truffle essence. Carnivores wishing to break in their new teeth will make molars merry with the grilled lamb chops ($35) with sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes, whereas old-timey deep-sea explorers can safely remove copper diving helmets for consumption of the wood-grilled Atlantic salmon ($28) with vegetables, or sautéed sea scallops ($30) with sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes. Vivo also offers ravioli, fish, and meat entrees that change daily. An extensive wine list includes both domestic and international labels.
A broad range of Italian and American classics fill out a Teena Mia's menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. Rich cups of Lavazza coffee accompany breakfasts such as stacks of pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and fried-egg sandwiches stacked with bacon, ham, or sausage. Their pizzas carry legions of toppings such as sausage, pineapple, jalapeños, and zucchini on a bed of melted shredded cheese. Customers can build their own pasta dishes by pairing their choice of noodle with rich marinara, alfredo, or vodka sauces or by hiring an architect to draft some blueprints on phyllo dough.
Chef John des Rosiers wants visitors to his restaurant-shop Wisma—which means home in Indonesian—to enjoy eating meals in their own homes as much as they do in a restaurant. Using organic and sustainable ingredients, many sourced from local producers such as Q7 Ranch and Anson Mills, he and his staff assemble and cook each dish before sealing it in a recyclable container for customers. They draw inspiration from the culinary styles of Europe, Asia, and the Americas, and craft every dish from scratch. On a normal day in their kitchen, the chefs may top handmade pizzas with housemade sausage and pesto, cook vegetarian incan quinoa and madras curry, and sear beef barbacoa for fajitas.
Desserts at Wisma are also a focal point, not an afterthought. Tres leches and double-chocolate cakes cleanse the palate after main dishes, as do six sorbet and ice-cream flavors such as lemon-basil sorbet and mint-strawberry ice cream. The staff also stocks small-batch wines and seasonally changing craft beers by the bottle, which customers can taste before they take home to plant and grow more bottles of wine or beer. Though many see it only briefly, the shop is filled with eclectic decor such as exposed brick offset by a yellow bike hung on one wall, cow-print and plaid chairs, and floral lampshades.