Restaurant Review Quartino Chicago

Walking down State Street it was with a sense of trepidation that I approached the steamy windows of Quartino. Hungry and looking for a decent and non-steak based meal I was beginning to think I’d have to give in and go for the Chicago staple of prime rib- again. The placed looked packed (an encouraging sign) so in we went.

As soon as I walked in I had a feeling I was going to like it. The atmosphere was buzzing and whilst every seat in the house was seemingly taken we were shown to a table within minutes. Our waitress came over to explain the concept, the idea being that all portions are smaller so several dishes can be ordered and shared (perfect for those of us who have difficulty deciding what to order!). Italian tapas? I’d never heard of that before. The menu was both varied and traditional, authentic antipasti of salumi and cheeses, pizza, pasta and meat dishes. I felt like pizza but with deep dish’ being the style of choice in Chicago I wasn’t too keen, but the waitress assured me that their pizzas were traditional so pizza it was. We had half the pizza as melanzane (aubergine) and the other half pepperoni (made with Neapolitan sausage). It was without doubt among the best pizza I have ever eaten. The base was paper-thin and not at all doughy and both toppings were extremely tasty. The tomato sauce is made with the revered San Marzano tomato and even the mozzarella is made on the premises (with all necessary components being imported from Naples, of course). This was all washed down with a carafe of very affordable house red. Was it the best wine in the world? No. It was rough and a little watery yet somehow absolutely in keeping with the style of the place and still very drinkable (hence the second carafe!). For desert I was trying to decide between a Nutella panino and profiteroles when I realised I hadn’t noticed the last item on the menu- chocolate fondue! No further deliberating was necessary and before too long our friendly waitress approach with a mini silver bucket (yes bucket) of unctuous melted chocolate and fresh strawberries for dipping. It was unbelievably delicious. We ended the meal with a refreshing home-made limoncello. A great end to a hugely enjoyable dining experience.

Quartino ticked all the boxes for me, delicious food, faultless service, lively atmosphere and great value for money. So much so that I’m already excited about going back!