By Elizabeth SanFilippo
Little Italy may offer lots of Italian dining options, but it’s not the only neighborhood in Chicago to serve some great Italian fare. While not all of these mentioned serve traditional spaghetti pasta, they do all offer some form of pasta that you can twirl around your fork. None of the restaurants suggested are chain restaurants, but ones that feature local ingredients made in a decidedly Italian way.
1359 W. Taylor St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Located in Little Italy, Davanti Enoteca offers wonderful rustic Italian cuisine with a modern flair. And while you can grab some traditional spaghetti, such as a deliciously simple cacio e pepe, you can also enjoy some of the most unique pastas in all of Chicago. The riccio di mare e granchio is a linguine pasta tossed with just the right amount of sea urchin and crabs. Don’t let the unique ingredients deter you; the light pasta is perfectly complemented by the delicate flavor of the sea urchin.
980 N. Michigan Ave., 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60611
As the sister restaurant to the one-star Michelin restaurant Spiaggia, Tony Mantuano’s cafe shouldn’t be overlooked. The casual atmosphere is the perfect place to twirl a fork of spaghetti. While Cafe Spiaggia is by far the more casual of the two restaurants, it still offers elegant spaghetti dishes, such as its tagliatelle con tartufi bianchi, which comes with brown butter, Parmigiano Reggiano and — best of all — fresh Italian white truffles. Because of these amazing in-season ingredients though, expect to pay $95 for this coveted dish. Looking for something a bit more affordable? Cafe Spiaggia also offers some other pasta-based dishes for under $20.
159 E. Monroe St. (Art Institute of Chicago modern wing)
Chicago, IL 60603
After exploring the modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, discover another art form from Chicago’s master chef Tony Mantuano: the art of spaghetti. In Terzo Piano, delight in the bucatini (thick spaghetti) dish, which comes with the perfect amount of caramelized onions, fresh herbs and nicoise olives. Keep in mind though that this dish is only available during lunch and not during the Thursday-night dinner. The bucatini is priced at a reasonable $15 and is sure to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.
1516 N. Wells St.
Chicago, IL 60610
This Old Town neighborhood eatery is all about traditional Italian food. What makes this place different from the many Italian chains throughout Chicago (of which Topo Gigio is not) is its focus on fresh ingredients. Go for the truly classic dish of spaghetti in a housemade bolognese sauce and you won’t be disappointed. This great dish, priced at only $13.95, is just one of many wonderful Italian pastas available at Topo Gigio.
1732 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
Even if you’re not heading to a play at Steppenwolf Theater, Vinci restaurant is well worth the stop for some classic Italian fare that comes delivered to your table with great service. Vinci offers a handful of delicious spaghetti dishes, including its seafood linguini in Arrabbiata sauce as well as a tagliatelle dish in a hearty veal tomato ragu. All portions are generous, especially given the price (none of the pastas are over $16). Even better, Vinci offers gluten-free spaghetti dishes as well.
Related: Best of Little Italy
Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.