Balena

The Whale

An Italian Farmhouse on Halsted

Bfe8da3ec3343b270a6b8da36ab9f0f8352fda023 PhotosBalena
If you were in the Italian countryside, you’d have tonight all figured out.

A secluded barn. A little candlelight. A little romance. A couple of Negronis. Some fresh pasta. A lot of pizza. Done.

In other words, pretty much what you can now do in Lincoln Park.

Presenting Balena, a stunning ode to Mediterranean rusticity and Midwestern know-how, opening tonight.

The name means “whale” in Italian, and this place is the result of the Boka guys inviting the crew from Bristol into the former Landmark space to make things less scene-y and more ricotta-ravioli-y. But if you’d like to send a plate to the blonde at the end of the bar, please do.

Speaking of the bar: it’s made of leather—which so few are these days—so it’s still worth a stop. Italian bitters are the big thing here, and each cocktail is ranked one to 10 on the bitterness scale. By the way, that blonde says she’d prefer a prosecco-vodka-Dimmi Strawberry instead. (Yes, it’s a one.)

For dating purposes, you’ll find bird-nest light fixtures twinkling above, leather bucket seats below you. On the table: a bottle of good nero d’avola, a Big Bowl of Clams and a 36-ounce steak made for two. For a wood-fired Lasagna Pie pizza before Steppenwolf, grab a seat at the counter overlooking the kitchen.

It’s a promising first act.

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