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A plate of spaghetti pomodoro topped with stracciatella.
Tortello’s handmade pastas are among the best in the city.
Tortello

Where to Eat Italian Food in Chicago

Carbs and Chianti galore

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Tortello’s handmade pastas are among the best in the city.
| Tortello

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 luxe 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. The latest additions to the list include Boka Restaurant Group’s Italian hotspot Alla Vita, ritzy Gold Coast destination Adalina, and pasta emporium Tortello.

As of January 3, the city has mandated that those ages 5 and up be fully vaccinated and masked at public places indoors when not actively eating or drinking. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may still pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Sapori Trattoria

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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.

A plate of lobster ravioli,
The lobster ravioli is stellar at Sapori Trattoria.
Sapori Trattoria [Official Photo]

Riccardo Trattoria

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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.

Osteria Langhe

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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. On Wednesdays, a four-course “Taste of Piemonte” menu is available for $55. Order online here.

Club Lucky

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Travel back to the ”40s at this supper-club-themed time warp in Bucktown. A large neon sign outside the restaurant beckons diners in for old-fashioned, family-style plates of calamari, chicken Vesuvio, rigatoni with veal meatballs, and more. Mean martinis — shaken, not stirred — garnished with stuffed olives are also a highlight, especially when they’re enjoyed in the cocktail lounge. Online ordering is available here.

Tortello

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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. Those who are interested in learning the art of pasta firsthand can book a private class. Place online orders here.

A plate of chiusoni alla gallurese.
Tortello’s pastas are paragons of the form.
Tortello [Official Photo]

Nico Osteria

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Nico Osteria, the sleek destination inside the Thompson Chicago hotel, doesn’t have as rich of a history as other Italian spots but the food leaves a lasting impression nonetheless. Pristine crudo, lobster ravioli, and whole grilled branzino are just a few of the contemporary plates that await. The bar area, dubbed Salone Nico, is also a great place to unwind with a stiff drink and light bite.

Adalina

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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 handmade pastas shine too, as do the desserts by Jean Banchet Award-winning pastry maestro Nicole Guini.

Elina's

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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. The restaurant is currently BYOB while it awaits a liquor license and a backyard patio is also in the works for springtime. Online ordering is available here.

La Scarola

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Boasting red sauce that nonna would approve of and a small dining room lined with celebrity photos, La Scarola is an inviting haven for simple but satisfying fare. Bring companions along to share large portions of penne alla vodka, escarole and beans, veal chops, eggplant parm, pasta e fagioli, and more. It’s the Italian way.

A variety of Italian dishes.
La Scarola is an old-school joint specializing in red sauce classics.
La Scarola [Official Photo]

Piccolo Sogno

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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.

A plate of spaghetti nero with mussels, clams, shrimp, and calamari.
Piccolo Sogno’s spacious outdoor patio makes it a popular attraction.
Galdones Photography/Piccolo Sogno

Ciccio Mio

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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.

Gibsons Italia

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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.

Alla Vita

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Boka Restaurant Group unveiled a new Italian spot in the former Bellemore space last year 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. 

Monteverde

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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 in the Great Lakes region. Online ordering is available here.

Italian Village

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One of the city’s oldest institutions is comprised of three separate restaurants. Located on the top floor, the Village — designed to feel like an idyllic Italian village — first introduced locals to regional specialties like fettuccine Alfredo back in 1927. Down on the ground floor, theatrical-themed Vivere presents a more upscale setting, while La Cantina in the basement is modeled after a cozy wine cellar. (Vivere and La Cantina are currently closed due to the pandemic.) Online orders for the Village can be placed here.

Tufano's Vernon Park Tap

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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.

Freddy's Pizza

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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.

Bacchanalia

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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.

Bruna's Ristorante

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A restaurant that’s endured for more than 80 years must be doing a lot right. That’s the case at Bruna’s, a South Side stalwart as charming as it is delicious. The porcini ravioli, veal limone, and tiramisu are all favorites but on Sundays, the regulars come in for Bella Bruna’s roast chicken.

A plate of lamb with green beans and potatoes.
Bruna’s has been in business for several generations.
Bruna’s Ristorante [Official Photo]

Franco's Ristorante

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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.

A variety of dishes and drinks laid out on a table.
Franco’s Ristorante has the look of a newcomer but the soul of a veteran.
Franco’s Ristorante [Official Photo]

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Sapori Trattoria

A plate of lobster ravioli,
The lobster ravioli is stellar at Sapori Trattoria.
Sapori Trattoria [Official Photo]

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.

A plate of lobster ravioli,
The lobster ravioli is stellar at Sapori Trattoria.
Sapori Trattoria [Official Photo]

Riccardo Trattoria

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.

Osteria Langhe

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. On Wednesdays, a four-course “Taste of Piemonte” menu is available for $55. Order online here.

Club Lucky

Travel back to the ”40s at this supper-club-themed time warp in Bucktown. A large neon sign outside the restaurant beckons diners in for old-fashioned, family-style plates of calamari, chicken Vesuvio, rigatoni with veal meatballs, and more. Mean martinis — shaken, not stirred — garnished with stuffed olives are also a highlight, especially when they’re enjoyed in the cocktail lounge. Online ordering is available here.

Tortello

A plate of chiusoni alla gallurese.
Tortello’s pastas are paragons of the form.
Tortello [Official Photo]

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. Those who are interested in learning the art of pasta firsthand can book a private class. Place online orders here.

A plate of chiusoni alla gallurese.
Tortello’s pastas are paragons of the form.
Tortello [Official Photo]

Nico Osteria

Nico Osteria, the sleek destination inside the Thompson Chicago hotel, doesn’t have as rich of a history as other Italian spots but the food leaves a lasting impression nonetheless. Pristine crudo, lobster ravioli, and whole grilled branzino are just a few of the contemporary plates that await. The bar area, dubbed Salone Nico, is also a great place to unwind with a stiff drink and light bite.

Adalina

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 handmade pastas shine too, as do the desserts by Jean Banchet Award-winning pastry maestro Nicole Guini.

Elina's

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. The restaurant is currently BYOB while it awaits a liquor license and a backyard patio is also in the works for springtime. Online ordering is available here.

La Scarola

A variety of Italian dishes.
La Scarola is an old-school joint specializing in red sauce classics.
La Scarola [Official Photo]

Boasting red sauce that nonna would approve of and a small dining room lined with celebrity photos, La Scarola is an inviting haven for simple but satisfying fare. Bring companions along to share large portions of penne alla vodka, escarole and beans, veal chops, eggplant parm, pasta e fagioli, and more. It’s the Italian way.

A variety of Italian dishes.
La Scarola is an old-school joint specializing in red sauce classics.
La Scarola [Official Photo]

Piccolo Sogno

A plate of spaghetti nero with mussels, clams, shrimp, and calamari.
Piccolo Sogno’s spacious outdoor patio makes it a popular attraction.
Galdones Photography/Piccolo Sogno

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.

A plate of spaghetti nero with mussels, clams, shrimp, and calamari.
Piccolo Sogno’s spacious outdoor patio makes it a popular attraction.
Galdones Photography/Piccolo Sogno

Ciccio Mio

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.

Gibsons Italia

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.

Alla Vita

Boka Restaurant Group unveiled a new Italian spot in the former Bellemore space last year 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. 

Monteverde

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 in the Great Lakes region. Online ordering is available here.

Italian Village

One of the city’s oldest institutions is comprised of three separate restaurants. Located on the top floor, the Village — designed to feel like an idyllic Italian village — first introduced locals to regional specialties like fettuccine Alfredo back in 1927. Down on the ground floor, theatrical-themed Vivere presents a more upscale setting, while La Cantina in the basement is modeled after a cozy wine cellar. (Vivere and La Cantina are currently closed due to the pandemic.) Online orders for the Village can be placed here.

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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.

Freddy's Pizza

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.

Bacchanalia

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.

Bruna's Ristorante

A plate of lamb with green beans and potatoes.
Bruna’s has been in business for several generations.
Bruna’s Ristorante [Official Photo]

A restaurant that’s endured for more than 80 years must be doing a lot right. That’s the case at Bruna’s, a South Side stalwart as charming as it is delicious. The porcini ravioli, veal limone, and tiramisu are all favorites but on Sundays, the regulars come in for Bella Bruna’s roast chicken.

A plate of lamb with green beans and potatoes.
Bruna’s has been in business for several generations.
Bruna’s Ristorante [Official Photo]

Franco's Ristorante

A variety of dishes and drinks laid out on a table.
Franco’s Ristorante has the look of a newcomer but the soul of a veteran.
Franco’s Ristorante [Official Photo]

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.

A variety of dishes and drinks laid out on a table.
Franco’s Ristorante has the look of a newcomer but the soul of a veteran.
Franco’s Ristorante [Official Photo]

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