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Anyone been to Riccardo Trattoria in Chicago

adambparker

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My wife and I went out for my birthday last night and I picked a small Italian place not for from us called Riccardo Trattoria. It had good review on Chicago Reader and seemed to be a legit place. Not extremely high-end, but definitely nice and surprisingly reasonably priced.

The ambiance was very warm, nice wood trim, off-white walls and Audubon bird prints -- homey but elegant. We were greeted with a "Buona sera," which seemed more habit than pretense, which was nice. The wait staff were excellent -- very professional, but friendly and more than willing to offer suggestions.

About 1/3 of the menu was temporary -- printed for the day and affixed to the inside cover of the menu. Not sure how often they rotate their menu.

They brought out a couple bruschetta as an amuse bouche, and served nice, home-made bread (the relatively bland house bread that we ate in most of the restaurants we went to in Tuscany) and onion focaccia.

We were limited by keeping kosher (we're pretty strict, but will eat out within reason), so we didn't have the tripe, for which they are apparently known. I started with the zucchini and eggplant timbale with parmiggiano, which was delicious, and my wife had a beet and endive salad with shaved parmiggiano. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary -- well-prepared and quite good.

I was in the mood for fish and had dover sole, a special recommended by the waitress, lightly floured and sauteed in a brown butter-lemon sauce with capers, etc. The kind of dish that rises and falls on how well cooked the fish is, and it was outstanding. Really flavorful and perfectly cooked. My wife had the tortelloni, filled with spinach and ricotta in a sage-butter sauce. Also excellent.

The kicker was the dessert -- one of the special items -- castagnaccio. It is a chestnut-flour cake (about 1.5-2" thick), with pine nuts, raisins and rosemary (in the batter). It is somewhere in between savory and sweet and went perfectly with the hazelnut gelato. It strikes me as one of those things that you can't get at your average Italian restaurant, and it was a perfect touch to end a really wonderful meal.

I'm sure that if you eat meat out (unlike us), there is even more to choose from. We'll definitely go back. Moving back from NY, I'm still getting over how inexpensive comparable restaurants are. All in all a wonderful way to end my birthday.

Anyone else been? Thoughts?
 

goodlife

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Yes, in fact just recommended it to kwilk in another thread. It is one my favorite places in the entire city, and it is very close to my apartment. The only downside is it can be difficult to get into. The staff is very accomodating, but you either have to be pretty flexible, or plan way ahead.
 

adambparker

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Yeah, I heard from one of my coworkers that it gets crowded on weekends. No problems for us, though. I made a 7pm dinner reservation yesterday at about 3pm. There were at least 3 or 4 open tables the entire time we were there -- left at about 8:30.
 

globetrotter

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good to know. I have had great luck with italian in chicago, I'll have to try this place
 

goodlife

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I have never had a single bad dish there. Some of my personal favorites have been:

Stuffed and fried zuchinni flowers
risotto milanese
whatever pasta they happen to be offering with their wild boar ragu
rack of venison
ricotta chessecake (very rustic and unlike any other I have had)

We have missed out on the daily alotment of florentine porterhouse twice now.

Oh, and the tripe is good as stomach lining goes.
 

adambparker

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Originally Posted by goodlife
I have never had a single bad dish there. Some of my personal favorites have been:

Stuffed and fried zuchinni flowers
risotto milanese
whatever pasta they happen to be offering with their wild boar ragu
rack of venison
ricotta chessecake (very rustic and unlike any other I have had)

We have missed out on the daily alotment of florentine porterhouse twice now.

Oh, and the tripe is good as stomach lining goes.


Yum, I love zucchini flowers.

Really, Northern Italian is basically the only cuisine that makes me wish I didn't keep kosher.
 

globetrotter

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oh, this sounds great.

anybody have an opinion on how authentic this is?
 

goodlife

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I was only in Italy for about two weeks, and and almost half of that time was spent from Rome south, so I may not be the best judge, but I think it is very authentic. I believe the recieved some type of recognition or award from an Italian expat supper club.
 

adambparker

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My impression was that it was quite authentic.

The castagnaccio really impressed me.
 

ChicagoRon

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Is that the one next to Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder at Clark and Dickens?
 

goodlife

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Yes. When Riccardo first opened we found it ironic that people were lined up outside Ovengrinder while the gem next door was never more than half full on a Friday night. It was so slow that the gf was worried that it would close due to lack of business. Turned out to not be a problem.
 

ChicagoRon

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I will give it a try. I do actually like Ovengrinder, despite the awful service.
 

globetrotter

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this looks like where I will go for my birthday later this month
 

Despos

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Originally Posted by ChicagoRon
I will give it a try. I do actually like Ovengrinder, despite the awful service.

Is this the place with the "pizza pot pie"?
 

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