Before pasta, most people relayed secret messages to dining partners by rubbing breadsticks together to start a fire and sending smoke signals with the tablecloth. Spell out your messages with swirly spaghetti with today’s Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of Italian fare and drinks at Via Carducci in Lincoln Park or Bucktown.
Both Via Carducci in Lincoln Park and its sister eatery, Via Carducci La Sorella in Bucktown, flaunt an extensive menu of rustic, Southern Italian fare concocted with natural ingredients. Inside quaint, exposed brick eateries, starters such as goat cheese-stuffed baked eggplant rolls ($9) and a plate of imported cheese, salami, prosciutto, and olives ($10.50) insulate chilly innards, while fermented fruits from the well-curated wine lists gracefully glide over tongues. Pastas, such as linguini paired with clams in garlic white-wine sauce ($15), overrun a menu that's cohabited by grilled meats, such as pollo marsala, a boneless chicken breast taking a bath in marsala wine sauce, and pizzas, such as the plum tomato and fresh basil-topped margherita ($13).
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“Calabria is one of the world's most peaceful and beautiful places,” muses Via Carducci owner Giovanni Scalzo about his childhood home in Italy. Not only does he carry the memory and spirit of Calabria with him, he shares it with Chicagoans at his Lincoln Park and Wicker Park locations. At the Lincoln Park location, Via Carducci, mouthwatering meals show off ingredients characteristic of rustic, southern Italian cuisine that earned the restaurant a nod in the Chicago Reader and an appearance on Check, Please!. The elegant yet cozy dining room's brick walls are accented by a hand-painted mural of Scalzo's childhood home in Calabria.
At the Wicker Park eatery, Via Carducci La Sorella, his chefs stuff bell peppers with seasoned rice and ground beef and toss linguini with jumbo shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, and garlic-wine sauce, entrancing diners and delighting their seafood merchants with their shopping lists. The menu also boasts a hefty wine list replete with reds and whites from nearly every region in Italy.