Serious Eats' Nick Kindelsperger waded into all of the food options Eataly Chicago has to offer, citing the food emporium's white tablecloth restaurant Baffo as one that is "essential" eating. He begins by preparing you for the chest grab you'll instinctively have over Baffo's prices (the cheapest plate of pasta costs $19, with the entrees costing between $30 and $50 typically). Adding to the sticker shock is the fact that the portions skew smaller and the waitstaff advises you to order one dish each from the restaurant's three sections.
Despite the price and portion sizes, he emphasizes that "it's impossible to argue with any of the food." He calls the polpo alla piastra the best octopus dish in Chicago, while praising the "flawlessly prepared" orecchiette con salsiccia di agnello, which "actually tasted like it was formed around someone's thumb, resulting in slight and fascinating textural differences." Props are also given to the costolette d'agnello, a grilled lamb chop platter with sunchokes and chanterelles.
Kindelsperger visited all of the "22 (or so) different restaurants and bars" in ten visits over two months, avoiding most of the crowds by going during lunch hours (though he says that La Pizza and La Pasta were always packed no matter what time he visited). Most of the food earned good marks, but, while the fritto misto di pesce "looked beautiful" it "was almost inedibly salty."
Other middling options included the inoffensive crudo del mercato, and the two "perfectly edible" but "flimsy and soft" focaccia, which didn't improve with a trip into his home oven. The five other "essential" restaurants at Eataly Chicago, in his opinion, are La Pizza, La Pasta, Il Pesce, Le Verdure, and Birreria.
· The Serious Eats Guide to Conquering Eataly Chicago [Serious Eats]
· All Eataly Coverage [-ECHI-]