Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chicago Eats: Quartino Restaurant

{Chicago at dusk.}
This weekend we booked a mini-vacation to Chicago.  Objective: get away from the house and household chores for a couple of days, get some R & R, and spy some new sights.  And of course, turbo-eat our way through Chicago!

Oh, where to start?  I have a bucket list way long with varied eateries ranging from hole-in-the-wall dives, quirky bakeries and breakfast joints, and Chicago landmarks (Charlie Trotter anyone?).  Two days just isn’t enough, but we discovered one new-to-us downtown restaurant, visited the holy grail of hot dog joints, and made a fieldtrip to a haut chocolatier.

We landed in Chicago on Friday, and spur of the moment decided we’d like to try Frontera Grill.  Friday, two hungry kids, 7:00 pm…oh, something like a 3 hour wait.  Oy.  Scratch that.  Instead someone suggested Quartino Ristorante.

{Chicago and Italian Newspapers, Keith with Peroni Beer, bustling Quartino}

  It’s a newer Italian restaurant in a touristy section of town, with a noisy, energetic vibe.  All the way there as we hoofed it, I kept imagining an Olive Garden-type establishment (Chicago blasphemy!).  All was forgiven when I spied the homey atmosphere and found out that dishes are offered tapa-style.  Any place with a chef jacket autographed by Julia Child can’t be bad.

The Roasted Baby Octopus with Braised Escarole was my favorite and I usually pass on bacon, but the Pork Belly with Apple Compote was pretty darn tasty too.  We also ordered calamari (the kids insist on it wherever we go) and pizza in's just a must!

{Chicago Pizza, Eggplant Parmigiana, Pork Belly with Apple Compote}

{Light and fluffy Zeppole}
Oh, and if you ever visit Quartinos don’t miss the Italian doughnuts (above) which you can dip in honey or chocolate.  Everyone was happily full after our meal, and decided to pass on dessert...well except me {I usually always order dessert whether I need it or not}.  When these heavenly things were placed on the table, everyone dug in and needless to say, they didn't last long. It ended up being the perfect way to end to our meal.

P.S. Come by tomorrow when we visit the Vosges Haut Chocolat boutique!

Posted by Dawn

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