There is an abundance of Italian restaurants in Chicago, and many of them can meld together in the mind. While both of the restaurants below are Italian, they are perfect examples that Italian food is not a monolith and can vary greatly making them both must-visits.
2833 W. Armitage Ave.
Open Wednesday through Monday 5 p.m.–2 a.m. Closed Tuesdays.
The kitchen closes at 1:30 a.m.
This new addition to Logan Square is a true gem helmed by chef Stephen Hasson who has worked in Solero, Wood, Sixteen, and Alinea. Named after his Neapolitan grandfather, Ugo’s focuses on traditional, small-plate, handmade, seasonal Italian dishes including pasta, pizza, and charcuterie. Don’t let the word traditional make you assume this just another red-sauce spot. The velvety chicken liver mousse is deliciously decadent as it’s handmade with some brandy a garnished with a bourbon-cherry gel. Their handmade pastas are light but flavorful. The stand out is their savory parpadelle with arugula pesto, hazelnuts, Parmesan cheese, and maitake mushrooms. Probably the best thing about Ugo’s is that the dishes are worthy of a fine-dining restaurant, but they’re presented to you in a modern, neighborhood-joint atmosphere and priced as such. Ugo’s versatile menu and decor makes it a great place to take a date or to meet some friends at the bar and enjoy their handcrafted cocktails while munching on their fried eggplant, mozzarella, or inventive Parmesan crackling.
1235 W. Lake St.
Lunch starts at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday–Friday. Dinner is Tuesday–Thursday from 5:00 p.m.–10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m.–11 p.m., and Sunday from 3 p.m.–8 p.m.
One of the early restaurants to jump start the West Loop dining revolution, Macello is still bringing varied Italian dishes and a fun atmosphere to patrons. Macello is the perfect example that not all Italian food is the same. Focused on dishes from the Puglia region, Italy’s heel, you’ll notice a lot of the sauces in the pasta are lighter than you might be used to due to Puglia being surrounded by the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. Another delicious anomaly is Macello’s pizza. Their homemade pizza dough made in their wood-burning oven is so delicious that there is no need for sauce on the pizza. I always believed saying pizza sauce wasn’t important was a high crime until I had a slice from Macello. Their pizza bianca that consists of only cherry tomato, mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, basil, and arugula is so simple yet mouthwatering. Don’t skip out on their fish dishes either. If you’re lucky to go on a day when they have their branzino on special you must get it as not only is the dish art but the way they fillet it table side is an art too.