Over thirty-five years ago Dan Bacin opened his first restaurant. Despite entering the extremely competitive Chicago pizza market, his concept thrived. Much of that success can be attributed to the use of fresh, high quality ingredients. No processed and canned stuff for him. Their continued dedication to serving the best has kept Bacino’s on the map for more than three and a half decades.
The original location opened on Lincoln Avenue, with another opening shortly after. If location is a key component to a restaurant’s success, then Bella Bacino’s, the second restaurant in Bacin’s franchise, definitely has unlocked that piece. Located on the curve of Wacker that leads towards Michigan Avenue, the patio affords a prime view that includes both the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower in one direction and Trump Tower and Marina City in the other. Because of that sweet spot several television and movie crews have made the restaurant their home base during filming.
Bacino’s is probably most famous for its stuffed spinach pizza. Somehow they’ve made the pie heart healthy, enough so that it’s recognized by the Chicago Heart Association. The restaurant also excels in traditional Italian cuisine. A restaurant with great food is nothing without great service, and this is also vital to Bella Bacino’s success.
At our Chef’s Table event we experienced Bella Bacino’s strengths on all fronts. It was a warm summer’s eve, so we began with a cool sangria on the patio. Once all of the guests arrived we made our way into the cool private dining space and were immediately presented with Tartufata Pizze. This thin crust variation was topped with smoked motzerella, pancetta, prosciutto and San Marzano cherry tomotoes, and it was paired with Trevisol Prosecco from Valdobiadene, Italy.
Our second course was a traditional bruschetta. The crusty Tuscan bread was served with tomatoes marinated with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil, and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. This was also paired with a white wine, a Chilean Anakena Sauvignon Blanc.
Spicy calamari with cocktail sauce was next on the menu. This was changed from our original selection because of a very special guest. Jarrett Payton, Walter Payton’s son, joined us to share his All American Wheat Ale beer with us. The beer is a refreshing and flavorful variation of wheat and ale brews. While it went well with the calamari, it was exceptional with our entree of rigatoni with Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, chiles and Asiago cheese. Of course, the paired Furthermore Not Stock Beer also went well with the pasta. As a special treat, Dan’s wife and co-owner Linda poured us a glass of 2010 Catena Malbec, which was as delightful as she was.
For our final course of the evening we returned to the patio. The temperature was balmy and the sun set as we enjoyed our unbelievably light tiramisu, paired with Furthermore’s Oscura, a coffee beer that is, as the brewers say, more “summer quencher” than “winter warmer”.
Bella Bacino’s provided an exquisite evening of fresh Italian cuisine paired with great wine and beer and exceptional service. There’s a reason they’ve around as long as they have, and will be around far in the future.