Restau­rant re­views

Red Eye Chicago - - Around Town -

Restau­rant re­views and pro­files from Tri­bune food critic Phil Vet­tel, staff re­porters and free­lance writ­ers. No stars in­di­cates a restau­rant has been pro­filed but not re­viewed, and does not re­flect on qual­ity of din­ing.

Rat­ings key: ★★★★ out­stand­ing; ★★★ ex­cel­lent; ★★ very good; ★ good.


Passerotto ★★ Cute as a but­ton and loaded with charm, Passerotto serves up “fun Korean fare” with a smidgen of Ital­ian from chef-owner Jen­nifer Kim. The din­ing room co­zily seats 42, and in­tact are the worn brick walls, tiled floor and pressedtin ceil­ing. Well-com­posed small plates are con­sis­tently in­ter­est­ing, ap­proach­able with a touch of the un­ex­pected. Prices are low enough to en­cour­age mul­ti­ple tastes. And the large plates are fam­ily-style plat­ters that add a com­mu­nal el­e­ment to din­ing. Ca­vatelli mixes Ital­ian pasta with Asian fla­vors, in­clud­ing a smoky nori but­ter sauce and crisp-fried wakame. Kim does nice work with raw fish, sea­son­ing them spar­ingly and high­light­ing their pris­tine fla­vor. Star large plates in­clude gochu­jang­glazed pork shoul­der, tra­di­tional kalbi, or, bet­ter still, the soon­dubu, a stew fea­tur­ing clams, mus­sels and tofu in a kim­chi broth, sort of a Korean bouil­l­abaisse. Open: Din­ner Tues­day-Satur­day. Prices: Small plates $9-$16; shared en­trees $32-$38. 5420 N. Clark St., 708-607-2102. — Phil Vet­tel


Etta ★★★ Pick­ing up from the hearth­grilled steaks at ex­ec­u­tive chef Danny Grant’s Maple & Ash, his lat­est pro­ject, Etta, ex­cels in flame-kissed cook­ing. We be­gin with the Pig Pic­nic, a shared en­tree of ten­der pork shoul­der and crisped pork belly that per­fectly em­bod­ies Grant’s sim­ple, fla­vor-for­ward ethos. Pizza prepa­ra­tions are im­pres­sive, and pas­tas range from the mar­velously com­plex mafal­dine with manila clams, king crab meat and ’nduja but­ter to the beau­ti­ful-in-its-sim­plic­ity bu­ca­tini ca­cio e pepe. For more sub­stan­tial dishes, you’ll find fork-ten­der lamb and lightly smoky wood-roasted chicken. As she does at Maple & Ash, Aya Fukai han­dles the pas­try work, and does so bril­liantly. Open: Din­ner daily. Prices: Pas­tas and en­trees $14-$39. 1840 W. North Ave., 312-757-4444. — P.V.

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