Little neighborhood restaurants are such a priceless gem. I had my first meal at Bacchanalia
in Chicago almost twenty-five years ago and have loved it every since. My friend, Jack, and his family have been dining there much longer. It's just a tiny slip of a place; a family-owned establishment nestled in a little, out-of-the-way Italian enclave.
The food cannot be beaten. It's hearty, Southern Italian fare but about as far away from Olive Garden as one can get.
Our waitress knew us; she'd been working there for decades. A complementary platter of pasta with vodka sauce appeared. It's that kind of place.
Antipasto for everyone:
Calamari stuffed with pork:
Eggplant Parmesan with meat sauce:
Stuffed mussels with linguini and white clam sauce:
These are just a few of the gorgeous samplings there.
By all means, order their fried calamari. It's buttery, tender, and light as a feather. Their penne arrabiata is to die for. Tons of garlic, olives, and a touch of allspice lace the fiery tomato sauce. But only the cognoscenti order it; it's not even on the menu.
If you really want a treat, order their Porterhouse Vesuvio; a char-grilled monster served in a robust, garlicky brown sauce.
Desserts came, coffee came, another carafe of red wine followed, and laughter ensued among old friends.
The waitress who'd been there for decades got a kiss on the cheek from each of us.
It's that kind of place.
Labels: Bacchanalia, Chicago