Quartino http://www.quartinochicago.com/ is located at 626 State St, Chicago, IL. If someone asked me what the best italian restaraunt in the city was, I would hands down say Rosebud. If someone asked me what my favorite restaraunt experience was I would hands down say Quartino. Quartino is not your authentic spaghetti, meatballs and canolli italian restaraunt. It is more of an italian experience.
It is italian food gone tapas. My sister and I sat down and watched the restaraunt work its magic and she stated it perfectly "it is a well oiled machine". Every waitstaff, hostess, busboy, magager...they all know exactly what they should be doing at exactly the right time. You do not feel rushed at all...you just feel very well taken care of without it being annoying. Once you sit down they start you off with drinks. I suggest the 1/2 carafe or full carafe of some red wine or a peach bellini. On a good night you can finish the carafe by yourself but you can also share with one other person. This night I decided on the red wine sangria (they also have white wine sangria as well) because it was hot out that day. Once you get your drinks they bring over an appetizer / antipasta menu and a pencil. You actually check off items on the menu that you want and they pick up your menu and bring your selections to you. I highly recommend ordering a few things off this menu. There are different types of italian salami, prociutto, all kinds of italian cheeses and olives. They also have roasted red peppers and an eggplant capanata that is to die for! They bring out fresh bread along with the antipasta and you can just take your time until you are ready to order. As this is an italian tapas place once you order the items come out pretty quick so I suggest you finish your antipasta and then place your order to give your food time to digest. In the past we have orderd the veal meatballs, orecchiette with fennel and sausage in a cream sauce, the polenta fries, different pizzas and the sauteed spinach. All of the items I just listed are excellent! Tonight we decided to order some different items. We orderd the organic veal grilled skirt steak with arugula, which was awesome. The tagliatelle with bolognese sauce and the linguini with clam sauce was also excellent. We also ordered the sausage and tomato risotto and the brocolli rabe. The risotto' are all very well done there....cannot go wrong. The brocolli rabe we could have done without...a bit bitter. I suggest if you are there with just one other person to ask them for 1/2 orders of all the pastas and risottos and that way you can try several instead of just getting one. On this night we did not get a dessert...but I do suggest you leave room for dessert yourself. There was a lady there from New York who kept telling the waiter how dissapointed she was because there was not any cheesecake or canoli on the menu..."...how can this be an italian restaraunt and you don't have cheesecake or canoli?" The waiter did not have an answer...but to her I would have said " This is not your ordinary italian restaraunt...this is a tapas experience...may I suggest the zeppole". The "zeppole" are hot italian doughnuts with honey or chocolate sauce for dipping. They are extraordinary! They also have many different kinds of gelato, preofiteroles and even fondue served with fruit. All the items on the antipasta, dinner and dessert menu are all meant for sharing. Would I bring someone you hardly know or someone who does not like noise...no, but I would bring someone that you enjoy spending time with and someone who enjoys different kinds of food. I would not suggest bringing someone who is "picky" about trying different food. I would not bring someone whose idea of a meal is ordering chicken nuggets or someone who is expecting a huge authentic meal. Bring someone who enjoys food and conversation and you will have a great night! I highly recommend Quartino!