Are you stuck in a rut of eating out at the same places? It happens to us all. We want to try something new, but we’re not always sure where to find it or if it’ll be any good. Somehow I stumbled upon a hidden little gem a few months ago that keeps me coming back for more. In a city with so many restaurant options it could take years to try them all, I can’t seem to stop craving Via Veneto. A traditional Italian restaurant on Chicago’s North side, Via Veneto is perfect for big family dinners or an intimate dinner for two. With a great patio for nice summer days, occasional Opera nights and even a nice banquet room for special occasions, it is certainly a classy and affordable establishment. Although the clientele consists of a diverse age group, there does seem to be more of an older adult population on most nights, which is very refreshing.
From the southeast coast of Italy (the heel of the boot), you’ll see various members of the Barbanente family eager to tend to your every need, making you feel like you are part of the family. For over 20 years Chef Tony Barbanente has been cooking up authentic Italian dishes from all over Italy — the Piedmont region to Sicily. There are even some of Grandma’s recipes still being used today. And it’s not just Tony that’s cooking — numerous other family members have restaurants across Chicago and the suburbs as well.
Enough about the ambiance and family, let’s talk food! Shortly after you have been seated warm bread and a complimentary plate of bruschetta are brought to you. The first tough decision you’ll make is deciding between a killer cocktail, a specialty martini or opting for one of many fabulous bottles of wine — eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Weekly appetizer specials often include the red beet salad that is unbelievable or the acorn squash stuffed with grilled vegetables and topped with goat cheese that is out of this world.
Classics like lasagna, veal parmesan and gnocchi as well as four different kinds of ravioli top the menu, but what is really exciting are the creative and delicious dishes that feature seafood. The Chilean sea bass grilled with garlic and oil or the sweet squid stuffed with parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, garlic and parsley over pasta are just a few that get the taste buds tingling. It’s really no surprise since the Barbanente family grew up in a fishing village. With all their relatives being fishermen — they certainly know how to cook and eat fish!
My absolute favorite dish is hands down — the Tortellini Campagnola. It might seem boring compared to the scrumptious seafood dishes offered, but the cheese tortellini sautéed with onions and peas is in the creamiest sauce you could ever imagine, it’s like heaven in your mouth. Don’t even think of getting me started on the dessert menu. There’s a section devoted to chocolate desserts — need I say more?
If you want something new, good and affordable, head over to Via Veneto at the corner of Lincoln and Devon. Have a wonderful meal made from fresh ingredients and homemade pasta with some old world charm. If your belly isn’t too full afterwards, you can work off those calories just up the street in a nice relaxing game of miniature golf at the 62 year old Chicago landmark — Novelty Golf and Games. Both are guaranteed to provide satisfaction seven days a week!
6340 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60659
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