Stefano Roman and Juliana Montebello-Roman love hosting partiesand it shows.
Visit the married duo's PR Italian Bistro ( 3908 N. Sheridan Rd.; PRItalianBistro.com ) and it's as if you were going to their dinner partya welcoming, friendly vibe where Juliana greets and seats you while chef Stefano prepares creative Mediterranean cuisine with international flavors.
Somewhere between casual, romantic and rustic, PR's expansive glass facade, full-service bar, exposed-brick walls and open kitchen make for a tasty and tasteful experience.
With a blackboard menu that changes daily, Stefano "is out shopping four or five times a week," Juliana said.
Start off with a burrata: mozzarella and arugula doused in balsamic, pesto, red peppers and a side of crostini.
My dining companion and I recommend the ravioli costexine, stuffed with savory, tender-braised rib covered with butter sage sauce. Also recommended is the pizza Bistro, an intriguing-sounding mix of housemade Italian sausage, onion, wild cherries, goat cheese and fennel.
For vegetarians, pansotti pistacchio is beet-stuffed pasta topped with goat cheese and brown butter sauce. The orange zest was overwhelming at first, but we began to appreciate the earthy-citrus balance.
Wines, beers and cocktails abound, but try the Dancing Buffalo, with bourbon, prosecco, elderflower liqueur, lemon and sage.
Come dessert time and you're feeling decadent, order the salted caramel cake, or if you're on the brink of a food coma then go for the lemon-stuffed lemon sorbet: a frozen lemon carved and stuffed with light, refreshing sorbet.
PR is just south of the Sheridan Red Line station in the Sheridan Station Corridor, two bustling blocks of local businesses that will soon be home to a few high-rise developments.
Founded 12 years ago as Pizza Rustica, PR's clientele includes families, couples, neighborhood regulars, employees craving an after-work drink, and as of recently, weekend brunch-goers.
"We morphed into what we are today because we can cook. We never set out to own a restaurant, we never set out to move to a bigger space," said Juliana, who has a background in real estate. "None of this was planned. We built it and they came, and here we are."
Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.