Ensconced in Albany Park, Angelo's Wine Bar ( 3026 W. Montrose Ave.; AngelosWineBar.com ) is just as laid-back and homey as its neighborhood.
The revamped restaurant is a milestone for owner Ramez Fakhoury, who started helping his uncle and dad with the restaurant in 2004 before officially taking over the family business in 2014.
( There's also a large window that opens to let the summer ( or warm autumn ) air in the space, although it seemed like my dining companion and I spent half our time waving off some persistent flies. )
The casual spot specializes in antipasti, pizza, pasta and per la tavola ( "for the table" ) items, and there's an impressive list of menu items under each category. Executive Chef Julia Heltona wonderfully sassy person who tells it like it isis the mastermind behind the dishes, and she should be proud.
A salad consisting of tomato, watermelon, mint and feta was tasty and refreshing, followed by whipped ricotta ( one of the "for the table" offerings )an olio of Italian ricotta, clover honey and balsamic on a toasted baguette that somehow was the weakest of the items we had.
However, things turned out much better with the following dish: an extremely tender smoked bone-in shortrib that was accompanied by caramelized Asian pear and garlic braised spinach. The pizza we choseGamberetto ( shrimp, roasted garlic cream, caramelized onion and mozzarella )was just as enticing.
Things concluded with a polenta pound cake that was slightly dry ( with even Helton agreeing with that assessment ), yet tasty.
But make no mistake: Angelo's has a ton to offerfrom the homey atmosphere to the delicious food and drinks, to the hunky bartender who no doubt draws in customers on his own.
Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.