Like the rest of the Renzo Piano–designed Modern Wing, the restaurant at the Art Institute is a beautiful space: sleek, pristine and awash with light on even the gloomiest early summer day. But taking a room this flawless and attaching it to Spiaggia chef Tony Mantuano (and tacking on the price tags to show it) raises expectations—even for a museum restaurant—that the food doesn’t meet.
The highlights of the menu demonstrate the same simplicity and elegance that make the architecture so compelling: A tangle of wildly flavorful garlic scapes rests among heaps of the creamiest burrata (milky-soft fresh mozzarella) on flatbread; an enormous pile of fresh, crunchy pea shoots and tendrils comes with wisp-thin slices of sheep’s-milk cheese and crisped La Quercia prosciutto; and a rich, indulgent chocolate-hazelnut semifreddo plated atop salted caramel is one of the greatest desserts I’ve eaten at a restaurant in a long time.
But what came in between that flatbread and the semifreddo is the problem. A trio of mini burgers suffers from the travesty of sliders: The patty-to-bread ratio makes each one taste dry and bready, even when there’s a well-seasoned lamb burger inside mixed with Capriole goat cheese (and especially when the patty is a bland, battered “shrimp burger”). A sesame crust nearly swallowed a fillet of whitefish (why not sesame-crust just one side?). A dollop of lemon-infused ricotta added gentle acidity to a bowl of spaghetti, but once the ricotta ran out, the dish had exactly two notes: butter and salt. And then there was the dessert that dared show its face next to that semifreddo: three tough, dense, heavy espresso doughnuts that not even the thoughtful accompaniment of sliced cherries and fennel fronds could save. In a room fixated on lightness, there was no way the doughnuts could hide their weight.
|Venue name:||Terzo Piano||Contact:|
Art Institute of Chicag
159 E Monroe St
|Cross street:||between Michigan Ave and Columbus Dr|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Wed 11am-3pm; Thurs 11am-8pm; Fri, Sat 11am-3pm; Sun 10:30am-3pm|
|Transport:||El stop: Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Adams; Red to Monroe. Bus: 3, 4, 6, 14, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157.|
|Price:||Average main course: $23|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
4 / 5
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- 4 star:3
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Come for the art, stay for the food and the views. The terrace offers exceptionally stunning people-watching opportunities with Millennium Park in the background. As a bonus, you can walk directly from Terzo into the park after a summer brunch.
I have yet to eat at Terzo Piano but even if the food wasn't the best I would say that its worth it for the view. They have great cocktails and on Tuesday nights during the week in the summer there's no better place to go!
If you want to impress your out-of-town visitors, take them here. Not only will they be blown away by the Art Institute's Modern Wing, but they'll also be in awe of how amazing the view looks from Terzo Piano.