If we had to choose the United States foodie capital, Chicago would certainly be in the top 3. Not only is the city full of gourmets, but it also benefits from the fact that each culture brings something different to the rich foodie scene of the Windy City. People love to eat in Chicago, the fact that it is -20 degrees during 4 months of the year can be one of the reasons for this passion.
I know Chicago is known for its stuffed pizza, a pizza that is closer to the pie than the traditional pizza, to be honest, and if you served this to an Italian he would probably throw it in your face.
So, if after exploring the culinary specialties of the Windy City, which is a mix of all the culinary traditions of the world with an American twist, you want to return to something more traditional, here are my 3 favorite places for authentic italian in Chicago.
1 Anto Pizza & Pasta Chicago
Anto is a relatively new restaurant in Chicago. It is located in the Rogers Park neighborhood. The concept is quite clever, offering specialties of Italian street food to eat on the spot or to take away. Very close to Lake Michigan you can order your fresh pasta, they are served in a cone that you can take away and eat them on the beach (yes, it sounds like heaven). The bet of Anto Pizza & Pasta is to have a quite small menu but that guarantees the freshness of the products and the low prices for the Chicago market.
If I have to choose my favorites, I must say that pasta and antipasti are the winners. Pistachio ravioli with pistachio sauce is really my number 1. Not only because it’s quite unique but also because it’s absolutely delicious! The arancini, fried squid and mozzarella homemade sticks are amazing. Carbonara pasta and vodka sauce are also worth a try! And lastly, I must add that Anto has Nutella cannoli and perhaps the best espresso in the Midwest. So what are you waiting for?
Address: 1547 W Jarvis Ave, Chicago, IL 60626
2 Spacca Napoli Pizzeria
Are you a Burrata lover? Guess what? Spacca Napoli has the best burrata that you can find outside of Italy. It’s a bit pricey (about $ 18) but what a treat! I have never eaten such a creamy burrata (and yet I’ve tried quite a lot). It is simply served with coarse salt and olive oil on toasted bread and it’s a marvel. Just the burrata is the reason number 1 why you have to go to Spacca Napoli.
The second reason you should visit Spacca Napoli is, of course, the pizza! The pizza are divided into two categories, the traditional marinara pizza from Napoli with tomato sauce, and the white pizza with cream. Made in a traditional pizza oven, here no pineapple, buffalo sauce, or pizza cheeseburger, the menu is pretty classic but very tasty. My favorite pizza is the pizza Margherita, which never disappoints and is one of Napoli’s specialties. Be prepared to queue because it’s one of the places that is considered as the best pizza in Chicago!
Address: 1769 W Sunnyside Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
3- Sapori Trattoria:
Sapori is a bit the big brother of Anto Pizza & Pasta from a culinary point of view (and maybe even from a family point of view, because, I think that the two bosses of the two establishments have family ties). While Anto pizza is more suited for quick lunch or take-away, Sapori is more based on the concept of a trattoria. The atmosphere is cozy but remains casual this is the perfect place for dining. Yes, the tables are very close to each other, and yes the dining room is loud, in short, a real atmosphere of traditional trattoria!
The menu is larger than the one of Anto and offers a choice of pasta very varied, with seafood, lobster, fresh veggies, and more. They also have risotto and a large choice of meat. This is one of the few Italian restaurants to offer lasagna (with beef or veggies) and gnocchi with pine pesto (that are to die for). The dessert menu is pretty classic but everything tastes amazing (try the lemon sorbet and chocolate raspberry cake).
Address: 2701 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Have you tried one of these places?!