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Natalino’s (CLOSED)

Restaurants River West/West Town
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The minute I walked into Natalino’s I was greeted by the sight of a well-dressed man at the host stand, a phone glued to his ear. He was a manager, or maybe an owner, and he was pissed. “Just get over here before I shoot you, Gino!” he shouted. The threat did not sound in vain. But there was also a theatrical aspect to the whole thing. It was as if he wanted my first impression of his place to be of a tough Italian barking into the phone like a cinematic cliché. After all, the restaurant is plastered with posters of exactly that kind of movie.

It’s hard to say if the bada-bing vibe here is an act or not. But it doesn’t really matter, because either way Natalino’s does the Italian-American thing pretty well. The menu reads like what you’d expect from the restaurant in Big Night (one of the posters on the wall): pastas, chops, sides of meatballs. But there are a few surprises, too, like the radicchio and prosciutto appetizer, which wisely pits the sweet slices of pork against bitter radicchio. (The rolled eggplant, on the other hand, was just as forgettable as it always is.) And while the tortellaccci al aragosta drips with richness (it’s stuffed with lobster and topped with sundried-tomato cream sauce), the excellent fresh pasta makes it impossible to stop eating. As if to top it, the restaurant pushes a dessert called “broken” cannoli, an enormous pile of sweet mascarpone that’s dotted with broken cannoli shells to scoop it all up. Nobody could possibly finish the thing. Of course, you’re not expected to—it’s simply about keeping up appearances.

By: David Tamarkin



Address: 1523 W Chicago Ave

Cross street: at Armour St
Transport: El stop: Blue to Chicago. Bus: 9, 56, 66.
Price: Average main course: $20
Opening hours: Dinner (closed Mon)
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