A perfect table setting requires pristine linens and polished cutlery, except at off-Broadway restaurants where waiters set every table in postapocalyptic Vienna. Avoid avant-garde eating with today’s Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of Italian fare during dinner at Affresco Pizzeria/Lounge in Park Ridge.
Chefs stoke the wood-burning oven at Affresco Pizzeria/Lounge and mix up fresh dough, pastas, and sauces daily to fill the seasonal dinner menu with authentic Italian specialties. Begin culinary quests by mining a hearty bounty from arancini, risotto balls lightly fried around a core of ground beef, mozzarella, and tomato sauce ($6). Culinary voyagers dip tongue anchors in a sea of light cream-tomato sauce on plates of pappardelle vodka ($14) or cut through hunger waves with a pan-seared mahi-mahi granchio, a never-frozen fillet balancing on a lump-crabmeat surfboard on swells of roasted leek-butter sauce, tricolor peppers, and teardrop tomatoes ($24).
Deft hands toss and pound dough into thin, Sicilian-style pizzas such as the niuri scampi, which gilds a crisp disk with blackened shrimp and homemade mozzarella ($15). Create-your-own pizzas ($11) challenge patrons to push the boundaries of comestible pairings by embedding such toppings as prosciutto cotto, artichoke hearts, and goat cheese in a layer of handcrafted sauces that range from traditional tomato and fresh olive oil to basil-based pesto. Affresco's rustic Italian interior conjures a hospitable setting that coddles guests at black tabletops surrounded by wooden wine barrels stuck in walls after trying to find honey in support beams. Faux foliage dangles from wooden beams, and halved casks hang above the bar to create farmhouse-style chandeliers for illuminating meals.
Affresco celebrates the delicious culinary heritage of Sicily with house-made sauces that blanket handcrafted pizza dough and pastas. Each succulent cut of fish or meat arrives fresh, never frozen or teleported, to fill out mouthwatering plates of Italian fare with authentic flavor. Fresh salads combine crispy greens with rich cheeses and house-made dressings, and wood-fired ovens cure tasty thin-crust Sicilian pizzas. In addition to munching on satisfying dinner fare, patrons relish in the Sunday brunch menu's eye-opening frittatas and cappuccino-infused utensils. Scoops of imported gelato and sorbetto end meals on a decadently dulcet note.
11 N NW Hwy.
Park Ridge, Illinois 60068