As I arrive in Chicago for a few days, my mind drifts to where my first meal should be. I have been here many times before and have a couple of favorites. I’m here just before dinner time so I make my way to Quartino. I always try to get something new and have never been disappointed. This time is no different.
The ambiance lighting is in place when I’m seated which makes good for the mood but bad for pictures. 😕 When my waiter stops by the table he asked if others will be joining me or if it’ll just be us. I tell him it’ll just be us and he makes me feel so welcome. It’s a bonus going here as he explains that most of the menu can be served in half portions. Yippee!! So I can have a little of everything!
They make fresh bread in house and drop a plate by which I immediately start dipping in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table. If you’ve not tried this you must!
I start off with the Polenta Fries with Red Bell Pepper Salsa. I’ve had them a few times and they’re so delicious. The outside has the most perfect, golden fried crust and the inside is so soft. The salsa has an ever so slight hint of heat and compliments the fries very well.
Next we have Romaine Hearts with shaved Grana, honey, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil. It is a little heavy on the dressing for me but it works. There’s a little acidity from the lemon that dances on your tongue and I can’t get enough of it or the Grana cheese! I need to make this dressing when I get home!
For my main I went with the Cavatelli with organic tomato sauce, fresh basil, and fresh ricotta. The pasta is made in house as well and I love how imperfect they are. Nice meaty centers and the tomato sauce clings to it so well. The fresh made ricotta is so rich and creamy that I want to eat it by the spoonful! I am told they can make this happen but decide I better not. Instead I use leftover bread to sop up the last bits of cheese and sauce. Another item I need to master when I get home.
The whole reason I’m at Quartino is for the tiramisu. It is so, so, so good! The first time I tried it I was here with my mom and we went back every day to have it! The espresso soaked ladyfingers are just right and not soggy. The mascarpone filling is light and fluffy and not too sweet. Then it’s doused with cocoa powder. I have a cappuccino with it and it’s the perfect finish to a perfect meal.
I am so in love with this place that I may have to figure out how to get back for more before I leave! Share your favorite Chicago eatery and I hope you’ll try Quartino out if you haven’t yet!