Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-07-29
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Sugar & Spice: I Monelli Trattoria Pizzeria
DISH Weekly Dining Guide in Windy City Times: REVIEW
by Meghan Streit
2012-02-22

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


If you were driving through the north end of Lincoln Square, you might miss I Monelli, a small Italian restaurant housed in an unremarkable building on Western Avenue. But, I'm here to tell you to slow down, park your car, and go in for a memorable meal.

First, grab a bottle of wine from the liquor store across the street because I Monelli is BYOB. I chose an affordable Chianti on my visit, and it paired nicely with the simple Southern Italian cuisine.

I Monelli's interior is simple. No more than 15 tables are covered with checkered cloths; daily specials are handwritten on a chalkboard; and the staff who greet you are warm and genuine. It's the kind of true Chicago joint that I think makes this city so special—the ones that get little fanfare, but churn out truly fantastic food night after night for loyal customers who probably live right in the neighborhood. It's the kind of place you can go back to again and again and enjoy every time.

I started with an appetizer of fried balls of risotto and cheese, which sounded basically like one of my wildest dreams come true. They were tasty, but not flavorful enough that I'd waste the calories next time. Fortunately, it was all uphill from there.

I have a weak spot for gnocchi. My absolute favorite in the city comes from the kitchen at Pizza Rustica, which serves the most impossibly tender gnocchi I've ever eaten. No other gnocchi can compare to Pizza Rustica's, in my view. So, the gnocchi at I Monelli had a very tough act to follow when I ordered it. I will say it comes in a very close second to Pizza Rustica's gnocchi, which is a compliment of the highest order, coming from me. It's soft and doughy, cooked just right and drenched in a hearty tomato sauce with a dash of cream.

The Orecchiette con Spinaci was also a delicious surprise among I Monelli's pasta offerings. The al dente shells are drizzled in olive oil, and mixed with spinach and a healthy amount of garlic. It's kind of like a grown-up version of noodles with butter—simple and satisfying.

The pizza at I Monelli is the star of the show, so don't leave without sampling one (or three). Pizzas are sold by the quarter, half or whole. Even the quarter is quite large, and enough for two people to share if you're also having pastas and/or meat and fish. The potato rosemary pizza is really tasty, with thin slices of potato smothered in bubbly mozzarella and speckled with plenty of fresh rosemary. The crispy crust is brushed with olive oil for the perfect finish.

I had heard from a reliable source that the eponymous I Monelli pizza was the best on the menu, so, naturally, I sampled that one as well. This busy pizza is topped with chopped pepperoni, bits of sausage, sautéed onions and your choice of green pepper or jalapeño. When it arrived at my table, my first reaction was that it looked startlingly like a frozen Totino's supreme pizza. However, I can happily report that the I Monelli pizza tastes nothing like a mass-produced frozen version. It's got the same perfectly baked crispy crust as the potato rosemary pizza, and with all those tasty toppings, it really bursts with flavor. Don't be surprised if you find yourself vying for the last slice.

The dessert menu has all of the classic Italian staples like panna cotta, cannoli and gelato. Sadly, the profiteroles were sold out the night I was there, which I'll take as a testament to their quality. So, I opted for the tiramisu instead. It was creamy, not too sweet, and served in a cute little cup. The portion size is mercifully small, just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth at the end of a filling meal.

I learned the night of my visit that I Monelli was scheduled to be featured on Check Please!, so you can expect wait times for a table at this tiny pizzeria to be longer for a while, as the rest of the city comes to check out one of Lincoln Square's best (previously hidden) gems.

I Monelli is located at 5019 N. Western Ave.; call 773-561-8499 or visit www.imonelli.info .

Do you need some more Sugar & Spice in your life? Follow me on Twitter: @SugarAndSpiceMS — for inside scoop and commentary on Chicago's dining scene.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Polo marks 30 years on Morgan 2015-08-02
SAVOR Izakaya Mita 2015-07-28
Dining news: Chefs join Elixir, Replay; Tanta's new brunch 2015-07-28
Dining news: Bountiful Eatery marks three years; Ullo launches wine filter 2015-07-22
SAVOR Lakeview Kitchen & Market officially opens 2015-07-22
Dining news: Izakaya Mita sake dinner; Peruvian celebration 2015-07-21
DISH: SAVOR New York Delicatessen; Be Leaf 2015-07-14
Dining news: Carnivale drag recap; $1 items at Freshii 2015-07-14
Dining news: Veuve Clicquot brunch; Sunda feast 2015-07-07
DISH: SAVOR Mr. Brown's Lounge 2015-07-06
Dining news: Marriage-victory items; Fourth of July 2015-07-01
'Chefs' holds annual event in new spot; 'Starving' at Venue One 2015-07-01
DISH: SAVOR SideDoor 2015-07-01
DISH Weekly Dining Guide: Pork Shoppe (Andersonville location) 2015-07-01
SAVOR Lockwood 2015-06-24
Dining news: Pride cupcakes; Mondo open for lunch 2015-06-23
South Loop Farmers Market opens June 25 2015-06-21
Hewn attracts patrons with pastries, more 2015-06-17
Dining news: Mindy Segal signing; Father's Day options 2015-06-16
DISH: SAVOR Mondo Meatball; Caffe Rom 2015-06-16
SAVOR Chicago q; Q-BBQ 2015-06-10
Dining news: Late-night items; Pastoral; Pork Shoppe 2015-06-09
DISH: SAVOR Maxwell's at the Club 2015-06-09
SAVOR Staytion 2015-06-03
Dining news: Wingout Chicago; Q-Tine opens 2015-06-02
NUNN ON ONE: CUISINE Chef Cat Cora cooks for Culinary Council 2015-05-27
DISH: SAVOR Riques Cocina Mexicana 2015-05-26
Dining news: Wine events; El Mariachi cooking demo 2015-05-26
Sweets & Snacks Expo takes healthful turn 2015-05-26
National Restaurant Assn. notes 96th year at convention 2015-05-26
SAVOR: Brunch at Wood 2015-05-20
Dining news: Chicago q's new menu; lobster festival 2015-05-19
SAVOR: Commons Club at Virgin Hotels 2015-05-13
Dining news: A'ville wine walk; National Burger Month 2015-05-13
DISH: SAVOR Piccolo Sogno Due; Hugo's Frog Bar 2015-05-13
Food news: Goddess and Grocer; James Beard winners 2015-05-12
Trotter Project, United join forces for in-flight dining 2015-05-06
Rioja Wine & Tapas Festival brings Spanish wine to Chicago 2015-05-06
Dining: Mother's Day events; Hot Doug's return (for one weekend) 2015-05-05
Dining news: James Beard weekend; Cinco de Mayo, Kentucky Derby 2015-04-28
 



Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.