If there’s one thing most people can agree on, it’s that a hearty plate of pasta is always a good choice. Heavy with Italian tradition, Chicago is home to some of the country’s best red sauce restaurants. From timeless classics, such as spaghetti and meatballs and chicken Vesuvio, to contemporary offerings featuring fancy ingredients like truffles, there’s a lot of variety to be had. Some spots have histories that span decades while others are relative newcomers. But the one thing they all have in common: Cooking that’ll make nonna proud.Read More
Where to Eat Italian Food in Chicago
Carbs and Chianti galore
Upscale yet approachable, Sapori Trattoria is a restaurant for all occasions. The menu leans heavily on pastas — be sure to try the seafood stew over linguini or lobster-stuffed ravioli — alongside specialties like six-hour-braised osso buco. And the romantic ambiance makes it a perfect spot for date night. Online ordering is available here.
Coming from a family with a rich restaurant pedigree, chef-owner Riccardo Michi whips up some of the finest Tuscan food on the North Side. Diners love the daily specials and crowd pleasing dishes, such as lobster-and-crab-filled ravioli and luscious panna cotta. Don’t miss out on the tripe Florentine, either: the veal tripe braised with veggies and tomatoes is a memorable recipe.
Dive into the flavors of northern Italy at this acclaimed Logan Square restaurant. Focusing on the Piedmont region, Osteria Langhe goes beyond the standard tried-and-true offerings and instead serves items like hand-pinched plin and prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin. After dinner, do as the Italians do and sip on a digestif.
There’s a slew of places in Chicago to get great pasta but very few dedicate themselves to the craft like Tortello. Husband-and-wife owners Dario Monni and Jill Gray take the art of pasta making seriously and enlisted a master sfoglina to help train the team. The charming pastificio imports its flour from Italy and the storefront window provides passersby with a view of the staff cutting and kneading dough into a variety of shapes. The menu presents options like tortelli filled with burrata, cacio e pepe, spaghetti stracciatella, and chiusoni alla gallurese. Fresh pastas by the pound, sauces, and meal kits are available as well. A charming outdoor patio, often with live music, is a great summer retreat.
Glitzy and glamorous, Adalina is built to impress. The lively Gold Coast newcomer has plenty of eye candy: crystal chandeliers, vintage mirrors, and plush velvet seats. Servers dressed in tuxedos echo the stylish setting, while the modern Italian menu from former Band of Bohemia chef Soo Ahn features refined staples such as cacio e pepe arancini, veal chop parm, and a truffled Caesar salad that’s prepared tableside. The restaurant recently kicked off a tasting menu.
A West Town classic has moved to a new location, leaving Grand Avenue for Chicago Avenue, and staying in the neighborhood. Oggi Trattoria is a family-owned throwback with pizzas and pasta. Chicagoans who grew up in the ‘80s will recognize the offerings as the kind upscale Italian restaurants offered. Now, decades later, dishes like tortellini alla panna and baked clams are comfort foods. It’s a great spot for an early dinner for families with young children.
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Torchio Pasta Bar
Torchio Pasta Bar in River North does not hold back. Diners are here for primarily one thing: carbs. The signature Torchio Pasta features radiatore with sausage and mushrooms in a cream sauce. The shrimp fettuccine has a beautiful plum tomato cream sauce. Braised short-rib risotto is also worth and order, as the weekend special bolognese lasagna.
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Tempesta Market is a lovely West Town deli with wonderful sandwiches, gelato, and pantry items. The ‘nduja arancini is decadent and the chicken and dumpling soup is great on a cold day. Tempesta has a big delivery radius and can turn a slow morning into a win with Dante (hot soppressata, mortadella, genoa, hot capicola, porchetta, provolone, hot giardiniera, ‘nduja aioli, lettuce, and tomato). The owners also run Peanut Park in Little Italy.
Industry vets Ian Rusnak and Eric Safin teamed up to open this small Italian American joint in West Town last year. The space, which has just 28 seats, is dimly lit by candles and sports striking features like an exposed brick wall, an antique mirror, and teal banquettes. Every meal starts with complimentary garlic bread, focaccia, and salami before diners dig into clams casino, rigatoni a la vodka, chicken and eggplant parm, cherry pepper ribs, Dover sole piccata, and more — all served on vintage china. Online ordering is available here.
Escape the bustle of the city at Piccolo Sogno’s lush garden patio and enjoy an intimate evening filled with rustic cuisine and Italian wines. The “little dream,” the restaurant name’s translation, of Tony Priolo and Ciro Longobardo treats diners to first-rate dishes like seafood spaghetti nero, pappardelle with wild boar ragu, braised beef short ribs, and wood-fired pizzas. Carryout orders can be placed on Tock.
The owners of Tzuco, lauded chef Carlos Gaytán’s Mexican restaurant, have turned their attention to Italian cooking and taken over the former Rockit space in River North. Ummo is decadent with items like pistachio-crusted lamb and ravioli with lobster-butter ragu. Chef Jose Sosa and have staff are influenced by Italian, American, and other restaurants around the world and have created a unique menu that will frequently change.
Hogsalt Hospitality recreates the Italian American supper club experience at River North throwback Ciccio Mio. Guests are transported to a bygone era when they step into the cozy dining room decorated with vintage artwork, chandeliers, and plush banquettes. The kitchen deftly turns out excellent classics, such as black truffle bucatini, spicy vodka rigatoni, lasagna rolls, and chicken parm. And for indulgent desserts, get the cannocini or soft-serve gelato. Online ordering is available here.
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One of the splashiest openings in West Loop in recent years, the owners of Bar Siena and Bandit have honed in on opulence with a luxurious Italian steakhouse in a crowd of competitors new Randolph Restaurant Row. Diners will find all the traditional trappings of a chop house paired with pasta. Vegetarians can indulge in a triple mushroom lasagna.
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Rose Mary has been one of the hottest tables in town since it opened, and South Side Chicago native Joe Flamm is mixing Italian and Croatian flavors into something truly different. The pasta is top notch with malfadine coming in lamb rags and lovely lasagne. The pork ribs are wonderful as is the Croatian star, cevapi.
Chicago’s famed Gibsons Restaurant Group is most notable for steaks, but the company expanded its portfolio in 2017 to include Italian cuisine with the opening of this elegant tri-level venue. Situated next to the Chicago River, Gibsons Italia offers panoramic skyline views, a beautiful dining space outfitted with a retractable roof, and a lovely outdoor patio. The menu highlights Gibsons’ signature Prime Angus and grass-fed Australian beef plus Italian options like arancini, risotto, and fresh pasta made from a gold extruder. Online orders can be placed here.
Boka Restaurant Group unveiled an Italian spot in the former Bellemore space in 2021 to much buzz. The interior, engineered by Kehoe Designs, has beautiful touches like waves of fabric hanging from the ceiling and a garden-style wooden pergola draped with plants. Chef Lee Wolen plays all the hits on his menu and guests can expect pillowy ricotta dumplings, creamy vodka rigatoni, wood-fired pizzas, and crispy chicken parm smothered in red sauce and buffalo mozzarella. Carbs aside, pastry chef Kim Mok makes tiramisu and housemade gelato and sorbet that are worth saving room for. And on the beverage front, the wine list predominantly showcases Italian bottles while the liquor shelf includes Amari and vermouth.
This West Loop Italian upstart opened in 2021 with a fantastic pasta lineup. The crowd-pleaser is a paccheri Mancini spun table side. Cacio e Pepe made with bucatini is another favorite in this intimate space along Randolph Restaurant Row.
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Top Chef and Spiaggia vet Sarah Grueneberg places an emphasis on freshly made pastas and delivers regional Italian flavors through a modern lens at her lauded West Loop restaurant. The food lineup provides hits such as cacio whey pepe, tortellini en brodo, spaghetti al pomodoro, and whole bird chicken parm. Grueneberg was honored in 2017 when she took home the James Beard Award for best chef, Great Lakes. Online ordering is available here.
Tufano's Vernon Park Tap
Guests don’t have to be regulars to feel like family at this longtime neighborhood joint. Owned by the DiBuono family since 1931, little has changed at Tufano’s over the decades. Stop in for hearty red sauce dishes and favorites like eggplant parm and lemon chicken Vesuvio. Other old-school touches include chalkboard menus and a cash-only policy. The James Beard Foundation honored the restaurant as one of “America’s Classics” in 2008.
Though the name suggests that pizzas are the main attraction, Freddy’s slings much more than just pies. Cicero residents line up at owner Giuseppe Quercia’s grocer and deli to stock up on Italian meats and goods and also order hot food. The menu features thick Sicilian-style pizzas, housemade meatballs, pastas, calzones, gelato, Italian ice, and more. It’s cash only, so bring some bills. Call 708-863-9289 to order.
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Head to the Heart of Italy for this family-run operation that’s been around for four decades. Touting recipes from the “old country,” Bacchanalia produces notable versions of linguine with clams, breaded pork tenderloin, veal scallopini, gorgonzola gnocchi, and more. To finish, pistachio cannoli are a must.
A remodel in 2016 gave new life to this Bridgeport establishment that dates back to 1989. The renovated space has a modern-yet-retro look and is home to beloved dishes like chicken giardiniera, thick-cut pork chop Vesuvio, and housemade gnocchi. Online ordering is available here.
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