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RPM italian
Photograph: John Stoffer

The 22 best Italian restaurants in Chicago

Sip wine and twirl spaghetti at the most beloved Italian restaurants in Chicago

By Morgan Olsen
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Chicago is home to one of the largest populations of Italian-Americans in the country, which helps explain why we're spoiled rotten with amazing Italian restaurants in Chicago. Our top picks range from iconic old-school haunts to splashy new restaurants in Chicago, but they all have a few things in common: stellar wine lists, plenty of pasta and some of the friendliest servers in town. As an added bonus, these Italian eateries double as some of the most romantic restaurants in Chicago, thanks to shareable plates and candlelit tables. Order a glass of chianti, pick a pasta course and enjoy the best Italian restaurants in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best restaurants in Chicago

Best Italian restaurants in Chicago

Osteria Langhe
Photograph: Martha Williams

1. Osteria Langhe

Restaurants Italian Logan Square

Regional Piedmontese cuisine is the focus at this tiny Logan Square storefront, which means the menu is dotted with truffles, cream and eggy handmade pastas. The space is ideal for date night and practically begs you to order a bottle of wine for the table from the excellently curated list. The plin, miniature agnolotti filled with cheese, are beautiful and light; the beef tartare is impeccably seasoned; and the prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin is smothered in truffle jus. In case you needed further proof that Osteria Langhe reigns supreme, order the creamy panna cotta to finish the evening.

SaporiTrattoria.venue02.jpg
Photograph: Max Herman

2. Sapori Trattoria

Restaurants Italian Lincoln Park

As Lincoln Park’s go-to Italian joint for all occasions—whether it be a first date or an anniversary celebration—it’s easy to get the impression that people are coming here out of habit. In fact, Chicagoans are attracted to the warm, homey room and the housemade pastas like spaghetti with veal meatballs and fennel-flecked Italian sausage, or sumptuous gnocchi paired with a lively pesto sauce. They’re so tasty you’ll realize that the locals’ habit is for good reason.

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monteverde, jason little, burrata e ham
Photograph: Jason Little

3. Monteverde

Restaurants Italian West Loop

You might recognize the chef-owner at this West Loop eatery: Sarah Grueneberg finished in second place on Top Chef's ninth season. She's secured a top spot in pasta-loving Chicagoans' hearts, too, with her beautiful menu of Italian treats. You mustn't skip the hand-cut pappardelle, which is served with rich pork sauce, marinated sweet peppers and a heavy hand of parmesan. Add fresh-shaved black truffles to any dish for an additional but worth-it fee.

Photograph: Matt Haas

4. Spiaggia

Restaurants Italian Streeterville

If you're hankering for modern, ritzy Italian cooking and you don't mind paying Michelin-star prices, look no further than Spiaggia. Executive chef Eric Lees oversees the kitchen here, offering diners a guided tasting menu as well as an à la carte lineup, with choices like mushroom and burrata risotto and steak served with truffle hollandaise. Beverage director Rachael Lowe and her troop of expert sommeliers are always ready to help guests find praise-worthy pairings, with a lengthy list of impressive vinos available by the glass and bottle.

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tortello, pasta, italian
Photograph: Tim McCoy

5. Tortello

Restaurants Italian Wicker Park

There are few things in this world that taste better than authentic Italian pasta that's made by hand. Dario Monni, the owner of this sweet counter-service restaurant in Wicker Park, understands that, and his upbringing in Italy only adds to the legitimacy of this operation. Buy hand-crafted noodles by the pound or stay awhile and luxuriate over a plate of namesake tortelli, which are stuffed with creamy burrata and topped with brown butter, sage and crunchy toasted hazelnuts. Monni's uses his grandmother's tiramisu recipe, making it a must-try dessert.

ClubLucky1.Venue.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams

6. Club Lucky

Restaurants Italian Wicker Park

The nearby condo dwellers with kids in tow may be a different crowd than the Polish regulars who once frequented this joint post-Prohibition, but the owners have gone out of their way to restore the original cocktail-culture look of the ’50s. The place is always buzzing, thanks to a dependable, old-school, family-style Italian menu with standouts like grilled calamari, chicken Vesuvio, and escarole with sausage and beans. But if you’re kidphobic, go late for the lounge vibe of Sinatra standards and signature martinis.

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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

7. il Porcellino

Restaurants Italian River North

We admittedly frequent il Porcellino for its stellar happy hour, which features $6 Aperol spritzes and glasses of wine on weekdays from 4 to 6pm. But after a few drinks, we're ready to order something hearty from the dinner menu. No-fail Italian favorites include the lemony roasted artichoke, a heaping bowl of rigatoni alla vodka, the massive baked burrata lasagna and the chicken marsala.

8. Truth Italian Restaurant

Restaurants Italian Douglas

When date night calls for a proper Italian feast under the stars, look no further than this Bronzeville staple, helmed by owner Peytyn Willborn-Mayes. The sizable side terrace offers plenty of seating as well as overhead covering in case the weather turns. Indulge in classic Italian eats, like calamari fritti and chicken alfredo, alongside some knockout seafood plates, including the fan-favorite fried catfish.

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LaScarola.venue.jpg
Photograph: Erica Gannett

9. La Scarola

Restaurants Italian River West/West Town

It’s okay to splash a little red sauce on the butcher-paper-topped tables in this raucous storefront. Old friends and big families admire the autographed celebrity photos and shots of the owner’s family tacked to the frescoed walls. Smiling waiters squeeze between tables juggling huge plates of eggplant parmigiana and bottles of decent Italian red. Order any of the appropriately garlicky pastas and a plate of escarole and beans for the table; the leftovers will warm up just fine tomorrow.

gibsons italia
Photograph: Kailley Lindman

10. Gibsons Italia

Restaurants West Loop

Gibsons Restaurant Group goes Italian with this ritzy waterfront property that's ideal for those nights when someone else is picking up the tab. Because it's Gibsons, the menu is crowded with steaks and seafood, but there are also some fantastic antipasti offerings (we daydream about the arancini) and pasta courses to be had. Though it's a splurge, the 7-year aged risotto with mushrooms and black truffles is worth every penny.

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Piccolo Sogno patio
Photograph: Eugene (Huge) Galdones

11. Piccolo Sogno

Restaurants Italian River West/West Town

Situated just off of one of Chicago's busiest intersections, Piccolo Sogno is a tucked-away oasis offering tried-and-true Italian delicacies. If you visit just once this year, make your reservation during the warmer months and request a table on the greenery-lined, fenced-off patio out back. In the sunshine, the prosciutto and fresh melon tastes sweeter, the gnocchi softer and the pizzas fresher. We can't explain it.

RPM Italian
Photograph: John Stoffer

12. RPM Italian

Restaurants Italian River North

A culinary collaboration between celebrity couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic and Chicago restaurateurs R.J., Jerrod and Molly Melman, RPM Italian is the kind of place that's practically made for expense-account spending. Start with orders of the prime beef meatballs and fritto misto before jumping into the house-made pastas (you can't go wrong with the creamy carbonara). The impressive gluten-free menu still offers plenty of options, including six pasta dishes crafted using flour-free fettuccine. When dessert rolls around, find room for the light and refreshing Amalfi lemon cake.

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13. Topo Gigio Ristorante

Restaurants Italian Old Town

Upon entering this Old Town stalwart, you'll get the feeling that many people have enjoyed special moments at this time-worn restaurant. It's true: For more than 25 years, Topo Gigio has helped diners celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and Friday nights over heaping plates of rigatoni, seafood-studded risotto and a mean veal saltimbocca. Celebration or not, you shouldn't sign the check without a bowl of the dream house-made tiramisu.

Formento's
Photograph: Martha Williams

14. Formento’s

Restaurants Italian West Loop

When summer rolls around, the plant-lined sidewalk patio in front of this West Loop restaurant is populated by neighborhood folk sipping prosecco and piling prosciutto atop country bread. The interior of Formento's offers a different vibe entirely, with dim lighting, leather banquettes and tons of exposed brick. Take your pick, then tuck into well-executed takes on classic Italian-American dishes, like tempura-fried calamari, brick chicken and grilled artichokes.

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Eduardos.venue.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams

15. Eduardo’s Enoteca

Restaurants Italian Gold Coast

This tiny Gold Coast restaurant makes the perfect backdrop for date night. But after one look at the menu, you'll realize that the cutesy interior is backed up by fantastic fare. Start with a plate of artisanal cheese and charcuterie before diving into the soul-warming tomato-basil bisque, spicy baked shrimp capellini and rustic hand-stretched pizzas. Psst: The best way to try the outstanding wine selection is through one of five flights.

ItalianVillage.Venue.jpg
Photograph: Max Herman

16. Italian Village

Restaurants Italian Loop

Spending the night hopping through Italian Village's three restaurants is a Chicago rite of passage. Have a glass of wine at Vivere before grabbing dinner at the Village, where you can slurp minestrone soup and twirl fettuccine alfredo. End the evening with a nightcap at the bar in La Cantina. The building's wine cellar is stocked with more than 30,000 bottles, so you're bound to find a new Italian vino to love.

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Photograph: Brad Danner

17. Franco’s Ristorante

Restaurants Italian Armour Square

Don’t waste your time searching the menu for the crudo and truffles. This is Bridgeport, where locals eat thick, roasted pork chops (how one person could eat the order of two is beyond us) and big bowls of penne tossed with spicy pesto, capers and succulent nibs of prosciutto. If you must, temper your order with a light insalata, like the roasted beet salad or the super-fresh caprese.

Photograph: Olesya Yemets on Unsplash

18. Riccardo Trattoria

Restaurants Italian Lincoln Park

One of the best Italian restaurants in town isn’t tucked away on some corner in Little Italy. Surprisingly, it’s smack-dab in vanilla Lincoln Park. Chef Riccardo Michi’s family founded the Bice restaurant empire in Milan, so he knows a thing or two about regional Italian food. Don’t miss the fettuccine aragosta, a treasure trove of noodles, lobster tail, scampi meat and spicy sauce. Become a regular and the waiters might cap off your meal with chocolate-dipped profiteroles.

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quartino, meat, cheese, gold coast, river north, italian
Photograph: Kailley Lindman

19. Quartino

Restaurants Italian River North

Despite its sprawling, multi-level dining room, this River North mainstay is always stuffed to the gills. Most of the dishes on the lengthy menu are designed to be shared, so load up your table with polenta fries, veal meatball sliders, asparagus risotto and steamed clams. The approachable price tags make it all too easy to upgrade to a half-litre of wine.

ViaggioRistorante.venue.jpg
Martha Williams

20. Viaggio

Restaurants Italian West Loop

Tradition runs deep at this old-school, family-owned Italian joint located on the outskirts of the West Loop. That means massive servings of tried-and-true classics like rigatoni smothered in Sunday pork gravy and chicken marsala dripping in tender, earthy mushrooms. It's a great place to go when you're counting on leftovers for lunch the next day.

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Anteprima
Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

21. Anteprima

Restaurants Italian Andersonville

What’s not to like about this affable Andersonville restaurant? It’s cute, it’s bustling, service is helpful, and the food borders between good and great. Year-round don’t-miss items include the lemon-kissed grilled octopus and the value-packed antipasti platter. Like any good trattoria, Anteprima rotates much of the menu according to season, but house-made pastas prove as perfect with rabbit ragù in cold weather as they do with bright fava beans and ricotta in spring.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

22. Bruna’s Ristorante

Restaurants Italian Lower West Side

This old-school favorite opened its doors in the Heart of Italy neighborhood in 1933, which almost explains the faded travel posters and weary saloon decor. But the kitchen is far from tired, going beyond typical pastas and parmigianas to specialize in rustic dishes from Siena. Listed between the chicken Vesuvio and the stuffed shells are a rich ravioli filled with porcini mushrooms and a spirited rendition of penne alla puttanesca. Ask for for a digestif with the check.

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