Nico Osteria

Due Diligence

Checking the Hype at Nico Osteria

21b95f52654268d6d2e2c6d0ac53993fbbc659f014 PhotosNico Osteria
Hype. You’ll humor it. Smile at it. Friend it on Facebook. You just won’t believe it. Instead, there’s this. It’s an inspection sheet of sorts. A road test. A canary in the coal mine of Chicago nightlife. We call it Due Diligence—dangerous work, but your nights are too important to leave to chance.

The Place: Nico Osteria, an eight-day-old Italian seafood palace in the new Thompson hotel. It’s from One Off Hospitality (Blackbird, Avec, Publican, etc.). Expectations are, in a word, high.

The Hype: This place turns the Viagra Triangle into a foodie mecca.
The Reality: Well, not quite. Yes, the portions here are delicate. And the eponymous cocktail, Nico, is thoughtfully swizzled. But the overall scene still has some Gold Coast boisterousness.

The Hype: You simply must order the Neapolitan-style ragù.
The Reality: Pasta in a braised-pork-belly ragù with swordfish meatballs—that’s a pretty obvious winner. But there’s a hidden gem: Smoked Whitefish Triangolini. You’ll never look at triangolini the same way again.

The Hype: The real action is at Salone Nico, the bi-level lounge off the Thompson’s lobby.
The Reality: You’ll still want to start your night in the dining room, but this lounge’s plum-colored couches, stand-alone bar, oysters and king crab legs do make it a pretty great place to end your evening. Or your morning.

Elsewhere on the Daddy

More Food in Chicago