Volare Restaurant is well worth a “flight” to Streeterville

Long time Volare proprietor, Benny Siddu was recently given the opportunity to take over the neighboring space to his popular Italian eatery (located at 201 East Grand), which prompted his decision to totally re-model the restaurant.  The finished product is a restaurant that is more spacious and open, featuring two dining rooms, two open kitchens equipped with a pizza oven, and an open bar area with seating adjacent to both of the dining rooms.


Photo credit Cindy Kurman, Kurman Photography. The new menu, created by consulting chef Edward Leonard and executive chef Massimiliano Campagnini, features regional authentic Italian fare including a variety of new Neapolitan pizza creations.  Also offered is an extensive wine and cocktail list and a delightful dessert menu. 


I recently had the pleasure of being invited to try out the new menu at Volare, so I called up another foodie friend and we headed down to Streeterville.  This was my first trip to Volare, but my companion had been there many times over the 15-year history of the restaurant.  As both a first time diner and a returning diner, we were both thrilled at the décor, the service, and (above all) the food.


Photo credit Cindy Kurman, Kurman Photography.My companion and I were able to sample a number of items, and we were both impressed and entirely satiated by the end of the meal.  We started with some samples from the Salumeria menu.  You can choose from a variety of Salumi (meats), Formaggi (cheeses), and Frutta e Verdura (fruits and vegetables) to craft your own, personal Salumeria experience.  Everything was excellent, but the standout was the Cippoline al Balsamico.  Definitely plan to add that to your Frutta e Verdura list when you order.


For another appetizer, we sampled their Signature Insalata di Mare consisting of octopus, calamari, conch and shrimp marinated with garlic, lemon, olive oil and parsley.  The seafood was expertly grilled with a perfect texture – slightly resistant but not at all chewy.


Photo credit Cindy Kurman, Kurman Photography.For the Primi Piatti, we sampled another signature Volare dish, Spaghetti Neri al Pesce, consisting of squid ink infused black spaghetti tossed with sage, shrimp, lump crab and scallops, simmered in a creamy rosé sauce.  Although I am not generally a huge fan of pasta, this is one that is worth a try both for the unique flavor of the black pasta and for the succulent seafood and the sauce.


For Secondi Piatti, my companion opted for Vitello al Limone, veal medallion sautéed in lemon and white wine.  The first bite tasted a bit overly-lemony, but after a few moments the flavors seemed to meld and the result was superb.  The portion size was not too large and the accompanying vegetables and potatoes were well-prepared.


Photo credit Cindy Kurman, Kurman Photography.My entrée was an evening special, the Osso Bucco.  This was the only item that felt less than excellent during our visit.  Although the flavor was excellent, the texture of the meat was not the “fall off the bone” texture that one expects from a good Osso Bucco.  Considering the superior quality of everything else, however, this was a minor issue in the evening.  The portion size was quite large and one of the more clever additions was that of a small fork inserted into the bone marrow allowing me to sample the marrow as part of the meal.


No visit to a good Italian restaurant is complete without at least a sample of dessert.  The Volare menu contains any number of “traditional” Italian offerings, but we opted for one that was a special of the evening, the Mille Foglie.  This delightful concoction consisted of layers of puff pastry interspersed with cream filling and garnished with fresh berries, a piece of dark chocolate and a piece of caramel.  Served with cappuccino, this was a perfect ending to a great meal.


Volare Ristorante Italiano, located at 201 East Grand Avenue at North St. Clair, Chicago, IL 60611; 312-410-9900) has been a popular, family friendly restaurant in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood for more than 15 years.   You can get more information on their website at www.volarerestaurant.com or you can follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

NOTE: All photos by Cindy Kurman, Kurman Photography.






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