Topo Gigio, Chicago Illinois

My bf and I took went to Chicago a couple weeks ago for a wedding. My bf loves Chicago. I’m more of a NYC girl so I told him he would have to show me what he loves about the city. In the short time we had he took me to Wrigleyville, for a drink atop the Hancock Tower and to a great cupcake place (check back for my next blog with details on that!).

Although he was in charge I couldn’t give up complete control so I planned one meal. Using a referral from my Italian bride-friend, we went to Topo Gigio on Wells, in the northern part of the city.

The second I walked in I noticed the place is full of happy customers having loud, gregarious conversations. There was an incredibly enticing table of antipasti near the bar I noticed. I meant to ask if it was for the large party in the middle of the room or some sort of antipasti buffet.

We were led to a raised platform in the back corner that held two tables. I was delighted to have a great view of the restaurant. The restaurant website says their customers are a mix of tourists and natives to Chicago. I can attest to that as we represented the tourists and Harold Ramis, actor and director, sitting directly next to us on the platform, represents the natives!

Not only were we eyeing the celeb but we also eyed their meals. Watching their dinners be whisked past our noses solidified my bf’s choice of eggplant parmesan; two short stacks of fried eggplant, smothered in melted mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce.

The only thing I would have liked to change was the service. Our server was paying a little more attention to Harold Ramis than us. In fact at one point he began to take our order until he noticed a quest at Ramis’ table wanted his attention. He never apologized for stopping mid-sentence but that’s fine. We’re just tourists from Ohio. We tipped him accordingly and tried to hide our disappointment.

I was disappointed not only for receiving second rate service from a seemingly good server but also for Harold Ramis’ table who had to deal with what I’d describe as an overly attentive server and staff. Their meal ended with a couple glasses of lemoncello being delivered by the bar, on the house. Well again a little over attentive they were as only one of the guests at that table wanted one. Harold Ramis and his guests were nice enough to offer us their spare which we happily enjoyed at the end of our meal.

We started the meal with the mussels. We chose to get the white wine sauce instead of their other option in marinara sauce. The bread was hard and crusty, perfect for dipping into the sauce.

For dinner I ordered spaghetti ai frutti di mare. The tomato sauce was light and I especially loved the calamari and scallops. The mussels and clams were great too. There was an overwhelming amount of fish in this pasta and I loved it!!!

Overall I enjoyed Topo Gigio. The prices were fair and we didn’t break the bank pampering ourselves with a nice dinner out. I would go there again although on the surrounding blocks of Wells there are a couple other great Italian restaurants I might try first, you know, for research sake!

And of course I wish my good friend a long and happy marriage!

Where to go:
Topo Gigio is located at 1516 N Wells St, Chicago, IL‎, 60610 312-266-9355 www.topogigiochicago.com

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4 Responses to “Topo Gigio, Chicago Illinois”

  1. Were you in the Signature Room when the sunset? Awe inspiring stuff, the whole room broke out in applause.
    I think I could slide right into Chicago and not miss a beat, except for that money thing, that’s the sticking point.

  2. My absolute favorite Italian in Chicago (granted, I only lived there about 4 years, so I’m not an expert) is Rose Angelis, which is on Wrightwood, between Racine and Southport (Lincoln Park, NOT my fave Chicago neighborhood but worth dealing with for Rose Angelis). Wrightwood through there is very residential, so you would never come across Rose A unless you were planning a trip there. It’s great. Tough to get a table on busy nights, and they don’t take reservations, but very small, homey, yummy Italian. My FAVORITE dish there is the gorgonzola tortellone. Homemade tortellone stuffed with gorgonzola, in a gorgo cream sauce with walnuts and grapes. YUM. So good. They also have great (and, I think, authentic) pizza – very thin crust, fresh, interesting ingredients, just a smattering of high quality cheese and often a pesto or olive-based sauce instead of thick tomato sauce. I miss it already.

  3. nice sarah… now i’m drooling on the lap top….

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