Even though the official grand opening isn't happening until June 27, Bar Umbriago will gladly welcome you through its doors now as the restaurant had its soft opening on Monday. The eatery, the newest venture from the Rosebud Restaurants group, looks and feels like a rustic Italian wine bar, with a lot of wood, big windows that open out onto Hubbard and State streets, walls lined with wine-filled glass cabinets and a long wood bar where you can amble up, plop down, get a class of Prosecco, some risotto and kick back.
Chef Michael Ponzio's menu is meant for sharing, whether you get the short rib tartare, Roman artichokes, mozzarella di bufala, veal agnolotti or goat cheese gnocchi. There are, of course, larger plates if you feel like being selfish: halibut with farro, braised rabbit with olives and polenta rossa, rotisseried cornish hen with summer veggies and stuffed branzino. And if you just want to nibble there's a really nice assortment of cheese and meats, too.
The 160-seat space, which also has ample patio seating (30 to be exact) along Hubbard, has a mix of tables and high top seating. That long wood bar? It can seat 22 for a casual bite or drink, while a semi-private party area can claim up to 25 people. The space, with a warm color palette, utilizes reclaimed wood as well as tiles hailing from a 100-year-old church in Italy.
Bar Umbriago boasts more than 150 bottles of wine, all coming in under $100, with a range of Italian varietals like Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, Prosecco, Primitivo and more. The vintage cocktail program features drinks like the Jack Rose (apple brandy, lemon juice and grenadine) and the Cherry Pop (gin, lemon juice maraschino liquor and simple syrup) falling in the $10 to $15 range. And you can also just get a housemade Italian soda like grapefruit, raspberry and basil.
And did you think a spot like this wouldn't have its own gelato? Don't leave without trying the pistacchio, chocolate or even the refreshing fennel. Because with this heat Chicago is currently experiencing, anything will help to cool you down.
[Photo: Urban Daddy]