- Location: 621 W. Randolph, Chicago IL
- Cuisine: Mediterranean with a French influence
- Site: http://www.alimentariosteria.com/
- Price: Mid-Range. Typical small plate is $12
- Rating: Very Good
My husband’s position as concierge at the Swissotel comes with many perks. One of them being the ability to dine at some of the finest restaurants in Chicago free of charge. On Saturday, August 18th, we dined at Alimentari Osteria with another couple before attending a showing of The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis (which is insanely funny, by the way). Alimentari is located at the previous site of Pane Caldo which was relocated to Walton street in the Gold Coast.
The hostess and waiter greeted us and provided an overview of the evening. We would be receiving a 7-course tasting menu with selections chosen by the chef. Not including wine pairings. Our waiter was an interesting character. Soft spoken with a mellow manner, he held our attention simply by being quiet. He was also a sidler. I was often not aware he arrived at the table until he actually spoke. The only other waiters I’ve experienced which such stealth are those at MOTO.
The décor is down-lit, cozy and semi-casual. It was early when we arrived, so it was not too busy and most people took advantage of the lovely weather by sitting on the patio. There’s not much to the outdoor scenery. The neighborhood is an area of converted lofts and studios but it was nice and quiet.
Our seven courses consisted of a series of small plates which provided samplings of each section of their menu. According to the menu, much of their meats and vegetables are organic and locally grown from local Illinois and Southern wisconsin farms. Some of their other ingredients are imported from Italy.
Grilled Sepia and octopus with garlic, chili and lemon
Comment: I’m not a big seafood fan, but the general consensus was that the dish was rich, deftly seasoned and cooked to perfection.
- Field Green Salad with goat cheese, peaches and tarragon dressing
- Braised cauliflower, broccoli, parmesan, lemon – extra virgin olive oil
Comment: Both were good. The peaches in the salad were a nice, crisp counterpoint to the sharpness of the field greens and goat cheese. The braised cauliflower dish was a bit rich.
Thin crust pizza with prosciutto di Parma, arugula, dried oven tomato mozzarella
Comment: The pizza received excellent reviews from the group. The sauce and crust was particularly delicious. My husband mentioned that the only crust which tasted better was that by Great Lakes Mortadella Pie (voted the best pizza in North America) located in Andersonville.
- Homemade Potato gnocchi, fresh herbs and san marzano cheese sauce
- Tortellini ravioli filled with summer squash, ricotta and goat cheese with zucchini sauce
- Vegetable Risotto with farm vegetables
Comment: All of the dishes were delicious. The gnocchi being everyone’s favorite. It was not the typical little dumpling shape but presented as flat disks covered in a decadent parmesean cream sauce. I thought the tortellini was rather sweet.
ROASTED FISH OF THE DAY
Parmesan Crusted Grouper
Comment: I was not tempted in the least to try this dish. Oh, it was appealing to the eye but by this time, I really couldn’t eat much more. I was convinced to try a bit but I know what a grouper looks like and just couldn’t get past the first bite. Again, my adventurous dining mates stated that it was delicious. Based on the small amount I tasted, the texture reminded me of Skate which has a firmness reminiscent of under-cooked fish.
- Apple Tart
- Pear Tart
Comment: My husband and I ordered the pear tart which I didn’t care for. It had a cloying sweetness uncomplimentary to the pear. I can only assume that the chef wanted to impart more flavor to the pear. The other coupled stated that the apple tart was good and flavorful.
Alimentari is a very good restaraunt where you can enjoy cozy ambience and comfortable conversation with friends. A recurring topic will be the delicious dishes delivered to your table course after course. Do a smaller tasting menu if you can. Seven courses is a bit much.