Yes, it’s an Italian restaurant. And yes, you’ve seen a lot of those lately. So, yes, it’s easy to be somewhat cynical about another.
Actually, no. It’s exceedingly difficult. And here are 2o good reasons why:
1-3) Location, location and location. It’s off Michigan Avenue, above Grand, with a big fat patio for sitting/drinking Chianti/people watching in the spring.
4) Stan’s Donuts. Rich Labriola, who started Labriola Baking, now runs Chicago’s Stan’s Donuts operation. Bottom line: coffee and donuts will be highly accessible.
5-16) Twelve flavors of housemade gelato. Like Belgian sugar cookie served from a spinning gelato refrigerator.
17) Hey, just look around. Red leather booths in the bar. Subway tile in the café ready for a casual lunch meeting over pretzel-bun burgers and panini. Plenty of candlelit tables in the back dining room ready for Valentine-ing over wood-fired pizzas. Or not Valentine-ing over wood-fired pizzas. (See the slideshow.)
18) John Caputo. The chef you know from Bin 36 is in charge of your bucatini all’amatriciana, swordfish carpaccio and meatball flights.
19) Negronis, Aperol spritzes and Last Words. In very copious quantities.
20) If you’re not convinced by now, maybe just go to Quiznos.