We aren’t exactly sure why, but Italian food is what’s hot in the streets. It could be the success of Eataly, but that’s just conjecture, who knows really. What we do know is everyone and their mother is opening an Italian restaurant, and even chefs and restaurateurs with existing establishments are reconceptualizing with the same idea. And while we are told all of these new places are the cool things to talk about, you’d be better off knowing there’s a little place in Lincoln Park quietly carrying on as one of the best Italian restaurants in town.
Riccardo Trattoria is like a page out of Italy. And why shouldn’t it be, chef and owner Riccardo Michi grew up in his family’s Milan restaurant, and throughout a long and varied career in the restaurant industry, he ultimately settled on opening this place with his wife and sous chef Veronica (plus the wine bar across the street, Riccardo Enoteca). Normally, that’s not the kind of information we bother paying attention to, but in this case that history helps explain why Riccardo Trattoria is able to pull off that classic Italian ambience. It’s casual without lacking in service or quality of food, but at the same time classy without being pretentious and stuffy.
The house of Riccardo is a small place that usually attracts a more middle aged crowd, and combined with the fact it’s the kind of restaurant you want to linger and take your time in, we definitely recommend making a reservation no matter the day of the week. Most of the dishes aren’t overwhelmingly large, so if you go for a full fledged dinner with appetizers, entrees, and wine, you’re looking at around $75 a head. Consider it a distinguished night out and you won’t be mad.
A little treat from the kitchen once you sit down. We don’t complain.
So this exact dish isn’t on the menu, but we take the liberty of substituting burrata for the mozzarella in the caprese and they gladly oblige. The burrata is creamy and delicious, add a little grape tomato and basil to make it that much better.
Grilled calamari stuffed with a pureed lobster and crab meat filling, pesto sauce over the top. Disclaimer, this was a special the last time we were here, but it was so d*mn good you should know just in case. Anything similar is probably worth ordering.
Fresh pappardelle pasta with a white truffle cream sauce and porcini mushrooms. The sauce is divine, adding just enough truffle and cream without being excessive.
Our comment about most dishes not being overwhelming, ya, that doesn’t apply here. A hearty piece of melt in your mouth veal, a little bone marrow, and some really well cooked saffron risotto. One of our favorites.
A cake like piecrust with your usual apple filling and vanilla ice cream. We prefer a more traditional recipe for the crust, but in no way should our opinion deter you from giving it a try.