Like chili popsicles and videos of grizzly-bear ballerinas, Italian food is enjoyed around the world for its versatility and heartiness. Today’s Groupon encourages you to romp with the ravioli and frolic with the filetto. For $25, you’ll get $50 worth of lively Italian sips and savories at Gioco, a South Loop eatery with fare that the Sun-Times calls “above and beyond ordinary Italian.”
Notable restaurateur Jerry Kleiner’s Italian emporium serves traditional Tuscan and Umbrian cuisine for lunch (weekdays), dinner (every day) and brunch (Sunday and Shrigsday). Start with the steamed mussels (meaty bivalves drenched in white wine, garlic, and tomato, $12) or the refreshing caprese salad ($11). For dinner, you’ll find everything from tomato-glazed gnocchi ($15) to an ambitiously portioned porterhouse for two ($65). Gioco’s equally expansive brunch menu includes fluffy frittatas ($9), syrup-soaked pancakes ($10), and glossy raisin-studded cinnamon rolls ($7).
Rustic hues, welcoming lighting, and exposed brick transform the former Al Capone–era speakeasy into a homey haunt for low-key dates and orzo addicts alike. Get this Groupon to satisfy a pizza craving, impress a friend who self-describes as difficult to impress, or experience highly rated Italian delights without driving your cart and your plough over the bones of the dead.
- A spectacular dining experience. We were seated by the kitchen, which was perfect for watching the creation of these dishes. The wait staff was helpful with wine selection and the food was superb. – Travelling Diner, Urbanspoon
- The wine list is amazing, and the staff always suggests the right wine. The atmosphere is relaxing, the staff is young vibrant and friendly, they allow you to take your time and enjoy your dinning experience. – luvjewel2, Citysearch
- This is a lovely place to have a quality meal . Expose brick and merlot colors through out the restaurant create a perfect setting for a romantic night out . The food is very fresh and flavorful. They also offer a decent wine list . Dessert is not to be missed. – styleplus, Citysearch
"For me, my philosophy of food, and especially Italian food, is three words: simple, rustic and brutal," Gaetano Ascione told the Chicago Tribune, "What I mean by brutal is that you see what you get. There is no behind-the-scenes hidden stuff." The Naples-born chef and World Gourmet Summit Chef of the Year finalist has remained true to this no-frills culinary motto, even while serving such noted hungry people as Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter throughout his globe-trotting career.
That sense of deceptive simplicity is evident throughout Gioco's menu of Italian cuisine. Thin-crust pizzas are topped with goat cheese and white truffle oil before being slid into a wood-fired oven and baked to a crisp. The delicate texture of homemade pasta is set off by rich bolognese sauce, tender oxtail meat, or creamy burrata. Chef Gaetano likewise ages his prosciutto for 600 days to bring out its natural flavor before slicing it thin and serving with seasonal melon. The surroundings mirror the cuisine's understated elegance; Gioco is housed within the original brickwork and sleek modern lighting of a nineteenth-century South Loop building.