Mike Sula sings high praise for Monteverde, which he calls the "city's most essential pasta destination." Sarah Grueneberg's dishes are a paradigm of perfect handmade pasta, he opines, and include winners like the ragu alla Napoletana, a "groaning platter" of red-sauced fusilli with a "massive braised pork shank [that] rises like Vesuvius, fat sausages and meatballs." Wok-fried orecchiette in a tomato-based arrabbiata sauce takes on the "smokiness associated with Chinese food," while tortellini en brodo features a mortadella-stuffed nuggets in a "powerfully rich" broth.
Elsewhere on the menu, crispy arancini filled with nduja, and octopus skewers with leeks and purple Japanese sweet potato, are notable starters. For dessert, "nothing tops" the salted-butterscotch budino that's a "deep well" of custard hiding under a shattering shell top. A number of "impressive" cocktails like a saba bourbon soda help round out the memorable meal. [Reader]
Oyster Bah is reminiscent a New England seafood shack with its outstanding fresh catch, Chicagoist writes. Anthony Todd starts with "tiny, sweet, slightly funky" Little Neck clams and an "excellent" shrimp cocktail. Clam chowder is "exactly the clam chowder [he's] loved for years at Shaw's" and a tart arugula salad is the "perfect way to cut the fat." Todd's favorite dish—New England "Stuffies"—are quahog clams packed with an "intoxicating mix of clam meat, chorizo, celery and bread," while a simple, delicate rainbow trout with the "perfect amount" of seasoning is a "pleasant reminder that fish doesn't have to be tortured with crazy sauces." [Chicagoist]
Maple & Ash delivers a fine mid-day lunch menu at its downstairs bar, writes Joanne Trestrail. Crispy deviled eggs are deep fried and a "nifty idea, executed with surprisingly delicacy," while "distinctly rich" soups like the "velvety" shellfish chowder are ideal starters. Entrees include roasted trout with fennel, olive oil and lemon that's "light and fresh-tasting," as well as "fun" prime beef meatballs in a "terrific" caramelized tomato sauce. Desserts are simple but a "giant, warm" chocolate-chip cookie is "hard to say no to." [Crain's]