***** (5 stars)
I’ve walked past this place for two years, associating it with hotel coffee shops and the donut shop that shares its entrance. I just assumed it wasn’t noteworthy. Wrong!
We had a great lunch here. First, the decor is among the nicest of Italian restaurants in Chicago, with rich brick and wood finishes and pleasant lighting.
The lunch menu offers a variety of starters and a few pizzas and sandwiches. But the deal is the half sandwich special which includes a salad or the soup of the day, and is currently a mere $10.
My wife selected the tuna sandwich and cream of mushroom soup. Both were flat-out amazing. It was one of the best tuna sandwiches I’ve ever tasted! It’s unusual, because the tuna is topped with giardiniera, a pickled mixture of peppers, carrots, cauliflower and other vegetables. And it’s served in what looks like pita bread, but is a light consistency like focaccia. The soup was great too, but very rich.
Speaking of rich, I asked for the Pate Vasi off the dinner menu, which they graciously made for us. It’s a jar filled with a delightfully creamy chicken liver pate, served with perfectly grilled slices of bread. The two of us shared half of this, and took the rest home because it was too good to get away.
As my entree I had the cauliflower steak appetizer, a large slab of cauliflower nicely browned, served atop an olive tapenade and covered in a slightly sweet white sauce. I didn’t care for the crispy garbanzo beans on top, but the rest was good, the primary flavor being the tapenade.
Service was attentive and friendly. As the name enoteca implies, the wine list is extensive, both by bottle and glass.
Overall this was one of the best lunches I’ve had in a while, and I won’t walk past this place the next time I’m in the mood for Italian food!
30 E Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60611