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SAVOR Italian Village
DISH: Weekly Dining Guide in Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-05-24

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Ninety years...

That's how long Italian Village ( 71 W. Monroe St.; italianvillage-chicago.com/ ) has been in the Loop, serving traditional and well-done Italian dishes.

However, the 90-year tag only applies to The Village, which is on the second floor of the venue. The thing is that Italian Village is actually three restaurants in one: La Cantina ( the lower-level spot that serves traditional Italian dishes, but is also more of a steakhouse ) opened in 1955, while contemporary restaurant Vivere ( on the first floor ) originally opened as The Florentine Room several years later.

In addition to the cuisine, each restaurant has its own distinctive decor. The Village takes guests on visual and culinary tours of Italy—and the former may be the more impressive, although the burrata ( complete with the all-too-rare beefsteak tomato ) is certainly worth savoring. Also, check out happy hour, which involves free pizza with the purchase of a drink on weekdays at 5-7 p.m.

La Cantina—which is the only one of the three that's only open for dinner ( with the other two open for lunch and dinner )—has the standards like fettuccine Alfredo and mostaccioli; however, there are also various steak, veal and pork cuts available. That chicken parmigiana, though, is second to none.

Lastly, Vivere ( the one that was the most comfortable for me ) offers contemporary designs and dishes. Among the tasty offerings there are agnolottini di fagiano ( pheasant-filled pasta ) and lobster gnocchi. This is also the only of the three restaurants there with a menu that occasionally changes.

However, I cannot end this without mentioning Italian Village's climate-controlled wine cellar. Wine director Jared Gelband took Windy City Times through what is sometimes called "the cellar in the sky," complete with more than 1,200 selections ( and at least 30,000 bottles ).

There's a reason Italian Village is an institution. Give it a try.

Dining news

—A Nutella-themed cafe will open in Chicago on Wed., May 31, inside Millennium Park, The Huffington Post reported. A menu that Eater obtained shows the café will offer savory dishes, along with some items not served with Nutella. The cafe will offer everything from muffins to crepes to paninis to fondue.

—LondonHouse Chicago, 85 E. Wacker Dr., announced that Land & Lake Kitchen, the latest LM Restaurant Group ( LMRG ) concept, is set to open this summer on the ground-floor retail space adjacent to the hotel's main entrance on Wacker Drive. Tim Davidson, the former chef at LMRG's Troquet River North, will be the restaurant's executive chef, offering upscale yet casual American cuisine.

Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.


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