Growing up, I had a great Italian grandmother and (half) Italian mother that infused in me a love of the culture and given me an unwaveringly curious outlook about everything Italian. I want to learn the language, try all types of Italian food, and eventually, visit the country itself. There are some great restaurants and cultural institutions in Chicago to check out, and until I get a pasta maker and start experimenting with making my own, I have to get my fix elsewhere.
Its hard to pick favorites with Italian food, because almost every place I’ve been to here in Chicago has been great, but there are two that I’ve been to fairly recently that I want to point out, not only because they have similar names, but because they also had superior food and drink: Club Lago on Superior and Club Lucky in Bucktown.
Club Lago was my friend’s New Year’s pick, and so a group of us went to check it out. I immediately liked the interior, because to me, it screamed Italian, right down to the checkered tablecloths. We got a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, which was pretty good. But what really thrilled me was the food. I went simple and got linguini with tomato and mushroom sauce, but the chicken also looked amazing and I am dying to go back to Club Lago and try other dishes.
Club Lucky had a similar atmosphere, but the most unique part about Club Lucky was the restaurant’s location. The restaurant isn’t located in the middle of a shopping and dining area, but rather right in the middle of a residential neighborhood, which really gave it the feel of being a small business. On the inside, Club Lucky is slightly reminiscent of a 50’s style diner, with an Italian twist. I chose the Penne Arrabiata, which had a spicy tomato sauce and a nice basil flavor to it. All-in-all, great service, friendly atmosphere, and a great neighborhood feel.
Club Lago is located on 331 W. Superior St., and Club Lucky is located on 1824 W. Wabansia.
Two other Italian restaurants to check out –
- Balena – Newly open in February, Balena combines great, gourmet food with a rustic Italian feel. Balena is located at 1633 North Halsted Street in Lincoln Park.
- Filippos – This small restaurant serves generous portions at an affordable price. Great place for first dates. Located at 1633 North Halsted Street Chicago, IL 60614