Chicago’s Old Town has no end of fabulous places to eat. We are always on the lookout for something intimate and special. On our last visit to Chi Town, we tried a new-to-us Italian restaurant called Dinotto. It is on North Wells Street, just north of West Schiller, tucked among boutiques, a garden center, and spirits store.
Starting with apps and drinks, we ordered traditional tomato bruschetta and fried calamari. Having brought a Boston native with us, I was wondering how the calamari would measure up.
No worries. It was cooked to perfection – soft and tender without even a hint of rubber. The breading was actually more of a polenta batter, delivering a satisfying crunch in contrast to the delicate meat. It takes a seasoned chef to make this seafood correctly. I’ve been to a few award-winning restaurants that can’t deliver calamari cooked this well. Our Boston friend declared it was some of the best he’d ever eaten.
The bruschetta was also delicious, the bread well-toasted but not hard, with plenty of garlic, and a buttery taste without being greasy.
I ordered a glass of New Zealand Malbac that was slightly dry and pleasing with the acidity of the tomato sauce. I don’t usually drink red wine, but the intimate atmosphere of the restaurant with its pink chandeliers and soft yellow lights put me in the mood.
We ordered a beet, arugula, and goat cheese salad with a Lemon Citronette dressing that was tasty. The Lemon Citronette was bright, and I was impressed that the dressing was made with fresh lemon juice. There just is no substitute for freshly squeezed citrus juices.
Finally, we enjoyed two wood-fired pizzas: one Margherita, and one Quattro Formaggi. The Quattro Formaggi is a white pizza with fresh mozzarella, gorgonzola, pecorino-romano, & mascarpone cheeses. The Margherita was also topped with fresh mozzeralla, as well as fresh basil and San Marzano tomato sauce. The pizzas were flavorful, and the sauce tasted freshly made. The cheeses were also fresh, as opposed to aged mozzarella. This is thin-crust, wood-fired pizza, not the traditional Chicago deep dish. I found the bottom a bit soggy, which was surprising given that the other menu items were cooked expertly. Perhaps the pizza sat too long while we finished our appetizer and salads.
All in all, we enjoyed a wonderful meal at a reasonable price, and had plenty of leftovers for a quick pizza breakfast. Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong when you dine in this town!
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