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Cicchetti and Nico Continue to Impress; More

Photo: Marc Much

Of the various new Italian openings, Mike Sula thinks Cicchetti might have the "most daring, forward-looking menu of all of them." There's a "visually arresting" bowl of polenta "set like a crescent moon" against tender squid tentacles, cracklings that "taste like the finest Cheetos you've ever had," and "three inspired combinations" of bruschetta "using ingredients you'd expect to find in a high-end brewpub."

Diners will also enjoy the larger dishes such as the saffron risotto or black squid-ink orecchiette tossed with Brussels sprouts. The same goes for dessert, where Sarah Jordan's reverse affogato features gianduja-stuffed cannoli wih a coffe ice cream "strong enough to wake the dead." Overall, everything is some "new and delicious reinterpretation of something familiar, at once comforting and thrilling." [Reader]

Likewise, Phil Vettel gives Cicchetti three stars and a hearty recommendation. Pork cracklins are "so addictive" they should be called "pork crack," while a "very nice" flatbread pizza is topped with fontina cheese, Mornay sauce, mushrooms, crispy garlic and "muted jolt" of chili.

Main courses include a "beautiful" piece of slow-roasted salmon and a "sensational composition" of house-aged duck. Diners stopping in for lunch can enjoy a "very nice" leek and potato frittata as well as a "terrific" pork shoulder, provolone and fried egg sandwich. And for dessert, the uncannoli-like cannoli is the "most fanciful" and Vettel's favorite. [Tribune]

There's a lot to love at Nico, writes Lisa Shames. "You won't be disappointed" with the selection of crudos, while the baccala mantecato fettunte has a "terrific balance of flavors and textures." The sweetbreads wrapped in pancetta are "some of the best [Shames has] ever had," giving Avec's bacon-wrapped dates a "run for their money" in the signature dish department. Pastas are the "dishes [she] can't stop thinking about] and include a squid-ink bucatini with "lots of bold flavors" that "complement each other perfectly." To finish, Amanda Rockman's desserts like a "refreshing" grapefruit meringue are "up to the same high standards." [CS]

At Analogue, the Cajun menu "steals attention away from the drinks." Amy Cavanaugh tries a "bright and lively" smoked whitefish dip and the spicy Scott, Louisiana, a soft-boiled egg wrapped in Boudin sausage served with pickled peppers and creole mustard. The gumbo is full of shredded chicken and housemade Andouille, but a mushroom debris po'boy has "so many French fries it taste[s] like a fry sandwich." As for the drinks, the "standout" Good Morning, Captain is a complex cocktail made with Jamaican gold rum, blackstrap molasses, tobacco and a whole egg. [TOC]

Nico Osteria

1015 North Rush Street, , IL 60611 (312) 994-7100 Visit Website


2523 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, Il 60647


100 North Tryon Street, , NC 28202 (980) 299-0039 Visit Website