Where & Wear: Ristorante Quartino
Ristorante Quartino serves no-frills Italian fare like few others can in the Chicago area. The River North pizzeria and wine bar gets packed on any given night of the week, and can accommodate everything from a quick lunch at the bar, to a multi-course, family style meal.
With a menu boasting an extensive wine and cocktails list, Neapolitan style pizzas, pastas, salads, vegetarian dishes and seafood options, you're bound to find something everyone will enjoy. Bring friends and order a couple Cicchetti (wine bar plates) or a Salumeria tasting to split before your entrees and definitely don't skimp on their array of decadent desserts.
Pricing and proportions are modest, so I recommend ordering a couple different options off the menu to share with friends–and don't forget a carafe of wine! You can't go wrong with their classic Margherita pizza, and the penne alla vodka, house-made burrata with roasted beets salad, and linguine with clams also come highly recommended from friends. For dessert, we split a warm, rich chocolate cake with vanilla gelato (we're saving the tiramisu for next time!).
While the bi-level space does allow for ample seating options, Quartino is popular among Chicago locals and tourists alike and guaranteed to get crowded, so definitely book a table in advance. The restaurant is bustling, loud and casual, so don't overdo it style-wise.