Italian restaurants abound in Chicago, and to stand out a new restaurant must have something special to offer. Locanda most definitely fits that bill. The newest of the Gold Coast’s Italian spots, Locanda elevates traditional Italian fare into something truly special.
Locanda opened in May and has just begun to hit its stride in the Gold Coast. This new spot, located at 201 E. Walton Street, was developed by notable restaurateur Antoine Cedicci. Best known for iconic Italian staples, Pane Caldo and Trattoria Ultimo, Cedicci reemerges with a superb new restaurant, certain to become both a neighborhood destination and a new hot spot for Chicago visitors.
“We are thrilled to be part of the Gold Coast neighborhood again and look forward to becoming a go-to culinary destination for locals,” says Cedicci. “Our menu completely focuses on seasonal items, changing every few days and putting a twist on traditional Italian dishes.”
Locanda specializes in seasonal, dynamic dishes, rotating its menu weekly in addition to offering daily specials. Elevating classic dishes with organic ingredients, culinary powders and wild edible herbs, Cedicci brings Italian comfort food to a whole new level.
Many of the fresh herbs used in both cocktails and menu items are grown in the window boxes of Locanda’s outside patio, a delightful space on a quiet street, often cooled by light breezes from the lake.
Some of the standout items include the Parmesan Ravioli Contrario with crispy prosciutto and corn sauce, the King Crab Charcoal Ravioli with saffron-fennel sauce and the Duck Confit Ragu with house-infused Orange Tagliatelle. Cedicci impresses with his inventive takes on classics such as the Farinata, originating in Genoa, Italy.
Additional standout menu items include the Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin with tempura of baby leeks and fennel topped with Parmesan Reggiano, 72-hour aged, house-made Focaccia with Tapenade du Jour and Cedicci’s favorite, the Osso Bucco with Kalamata olives.
For those with a sweet tooth, the dessert menu cannot be missed, with highlights including house-made Goat Cheese & Fig Gelato, Tiramisu and seasonal sorbets.
Every dish shows a meticulous attention to detail – in concept, preparation, and presentation. The addition of culinary powders, including activated charcoal, in many of the dishes provides a fascinating “twist” to many of the traditional Italian dishes. The wine list is also extraordinary – relatively small but well-curated. I was particularly impressed by the Northern Italian reds available by the bottle, but the glass list has some lovely and surprising options as well. Just like the food, the cocktail program has been created to be seasonal, fresh, and ever-changing.
In a city awash with Italian restaurants, Locanda is poised to become one of the best.
Photos courtesy of Isabelli Media Relations (IMR)