Struggling to balance work pressures with the desire to participate in awesome water-gun fights, scientists have long sought a way to be in two places at once. Today's deal treats you to a restaurant that's as close to Italy as one can get in Chicago without an Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky bridge or a malfunctioning GPS. For $20, you'll get $55 worth of Italian cuisine and drinks at Trattoria Gianni, the family-run eatery in Lincoln Park.
The trattoria's location in the heart of Italy's "Chicago theater district" makes it an excellent stop before or after a show at the nearby prestigious and largely un-Seussical Steppenwolf or Royal George theaters. Depending on how much time you have before curtain, open with a little zucchini fritti ($6.95) or a hefty antipasto vegetariano ($10.95). From there, you can move down the menu to a primi piatti (first plate) of ravioli burro e salvia ($14.50) or a secondi piatti of filet mignon smothered in Barolo sauce and wild mushrooms ($24.95). If your show starts soon, skip the menu and trust in Gianni's daily specials instead. But save room for a little of "the sweet life" as the Italians say (in Italian, usually), and try the tiramisu ($5.50).
Not included in the menu are John Malkovich, Nicole Kidman, Gary Sinise, and other stars of the stage, who are occasionally spotted grabbing a quick gnocchi gnosh before showtime. These stars add to the restaurant's elegantly rustic brick-wall-and-white-tablecloth atmosphere. By way of applause, you might try treating them to a glass of wine or better yet, one of Gianni's selection of grappas ($7–$15). John Malkovich will appreciate it much more than your screenplay, which was clearly written with Jude Law in mind.
- We had such a wonderful dining experience here and we loved that it was right across the street from Steppenwolf Theatre. – maxbrown, Trip Advisor
- Great atmosphere, full bar serving the best grappa in town. Food is very good too! – Jeannie D., Insider Pages
- The best homemade Tiramasu [sic] around. Everything is so fresh. The restaraunt [sic] is perfect for a romantic evening out. – loistheladybug, Citysearch
Italian from Scratch
Diners who have only experienced dry, boxed pasta or pre-made sauces from jars are in for a real treat at Trattoria Gianni. Making Italian food from scratch is a complex, multi-stage process where a lot can go wrong before it all goes deliciously right. What are just some of the many steps that bring home-style Italian meals to your plate?
- Twisting individual rotini into the soil to plant pasta trees
- Pounding air bubbles out of dough by getting plumber brothers to jump on it
- Individually dehydrating wheels of Parmesan cheese into particle form
- Intermittently racing home to stir sauce while chauffeuring a paranoid Ray Liotta on a series of substance-fueled errands
- Coming over here and giving your Nonna Sophia a great big hug
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