Angelina’s Ristorante: 20 Years And Counting

When a restaurant in Chicago’s been around for 20 years, you know they’re doing something right. Vital components for longevity are keeping a sense of tradition while changing things up enough so they don’t get stale. Angelina Ristorante in Lakeview seems to have a good handle on that combination.

I dined there with my new foodie friend Daniil Vinokur, the man behind Tweating Out. I’d been invited because it’s the restaurant’s 20th Anniversary, and also because they have a new chef. I accepted because I lived down the street for four years and never visited, and also because the new chef was Fred Ramos. I checked out Room 21 when he was there and the first line of my review was “I think I’m in love with Fred Ramos.”

He came out shortly after we arrived and offered to select courses for us, and we wholeheartedly agreed. As we looked over the menu we were glad we put our dinner in Chef’s hands. Everything looked good and if we had to choose we would have been there all night.

Our first course was stuffed mushrooms and antipasti with pate and Italian meats and cheese. The stuffed mushrooms were delicious, but we felt like they should have chosen a more robust cheese for the antipasti. The one selected was a bit wimpy.

We also shared the caprese salad. It was one of the best caprese salads I’ve ever had, and opposite of the antipasti, the key for this dish was the cheese. You wouldn’t think it would be easy to mess up tomotoes, cheese, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette, but it’s amazing how many rubbery mozarellas have been served with bland tomatoes. Not at Angelina’s.

For secundi there was a forgettable pasta with a tomato basil sauce and a memorable Cavateli al Filippo. Hand rolled ricotta dumplings and served with Italian sausage, oven dried tomatoes, and a parmesan broth – it’s worth a visit to Lakeview for that dish alone.

But wait – there’s more! We knew to pace ourselves so we were ready for the entrees. Last year I dated a chef who’d worked at Trotter’s and Alinea, and he taught me that when a dish is served with multiple ingredients you’re intended to try them together. These entrees were great examples of how they’re designed to work as a team. The Pollo Angelina was chicken with Italian sausage, sweet peppers and onions. The chicken was a little dry, but combined with the sauce, the sausage and the vegetables it was very tasty. The Brasati di Carne, boneless beef short ribs (which Dan thinks is an oxymoron), was served with polenta and a marsala sauce. On its own the polenta was a little bland, but it’s not a dish where you’d eat it by itself. The marsala sauce was excellent – another standout. We also sampled the eggplant parmesan, which Dan declared some of the best he’d ever had.

And for dessert – tiramisu. Amazing tiramisu. HUGE tiramisu. Want-some-right-now tiramisu.

The decor is warm and intimate. It’s designed to feel like you’re in someone’s home, and for a restaurant it comes pretty darn close. We sat next to a ledge lined with empty wine bottles. When Angelina’s opened they didn’t have a liquor license, so patrons would bring in their own wine and then leave the bottle, and now they serve as an homage to the restaurant’s heritage.

While there were a couple of misses, there were more than enough successes, and the ambience and service were warm, welcoming and comfortable. It may be a good thing for my waistline that I didn’t go when it was so close, but I’ll definitely be back.

Congratulations, Angelina’s Ristorante, on 20 years. Here’s to 20 more!


(Check out Dan’s much more succinct review. Somehow he gets the same idea across in 140 characters…)


Angelina’s Ristorante, 3561 N Broadway, 773.935.5933


  • Monday, 1/2 off bottles of wine
  • Tuesday, 3-course prix fixe $27
  • Wednesday, 20% off for Lakeview residents
  • Sunday, $20 Champagne Brunch






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