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That Italian Place on Grand and St. Clair

That Italian Place on Grand and St. Clair
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  • That Italian Place on Grand and St. Clair

    Post #1 - December 27th, 2007, 10:51 am
    Post #1 - December 27th, 2007, 10:51 am Post #1 - December 27th, 2007, 10:51 am
    I have a friend staying for a couple of days at the Sheraton Chicago (over by Columbus and the river), after which she'll be staying with us. For those first two nights, she's looking for places close to the hotel for dinner. I remember some people saying good things about the Italian restaurant right at the corner of Grand and St. Clair, but can't for the life of me remember the name of the place. (And a search, using the search terms I can think of, doesn't produce it.) So any help there will be appreciated.

    (Also, any opinions if it is still a good place.)

    (Also, any suggestions for other good and not super-fancy or super-expensive places right near that hotel, other than Capital Grille and Coco Pazzo, which I've thought of? Is Aria still recommended, and can it be thought of as a fairly "drop by after a long day of professional meetings without a change of clothing" place, or is it more "special occasion"?)

    Thanks.
  • Post #2 - December 27th, 2007, 10:55 am
    Post #2 - December 27th, 2007, 10:55 am Post #2 - December 27th, 2007, 10:55 am
    Volare
  • Post #3 - December 27th, 2007, 2:05 pm
    Post #3 - December 27th, 2007, 2:05 pm Post #3 - December 27th, 2007, 2:05 pm
    I prefer Coco Pazzo Cafe at St Clair and Ontario (two half blocks north of Volare). The food and service are far superior to Volare
  • Post #4 - December 27th, 2007, 2:50 pm
    Post #4 - December 27th, 2007, 2:50 pm Post #4 - December 27th, 2007, 2:50 pm
    I have not been to Volare, but Coco Pazzo Cafe is very good. More casual (and less expensive) than the main CP restaurant. Not sure which Coco Pazzo you were referring to in the original post.

    I also like the Gage Inn on Michigan Ave - relatively close the the Fairmont - and Brasserie Jo for French Bistro Food. If they are dining alone, they might also have luck eating at the bar of Frontera Grill.

    http://www.thegagechicago.com/
    http://www.brasseriejo.com/
    http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/grill.html
  • Post #5 - December 28th, 2007, 8:32 am
    Post #5 - December 28th, 2007, 8:32 am Post #5 - December 28th, 2007, 8:32 am
    Thanks, guys.
  • Post #6 - December 28th, 2007, 9:42 am
    Post #6 - December 28th, 2007, 9:42 am Post #6 - December 28th, 2007, 9:42 am
    I agree with Paul, I've been to both restaurants and Coco Pazzo Cafe is definitely superior to Volare. I would definitely recommend CPC, the food is great and the atmosphere is very comfortable.
  • Post #7 - November 12th, 2008, 12:41 pm
    Post #7 - November 12th, 2008, 12:41 pm Post #7 - November 12th, 2008, 12:41 pm
    I posted the name of this place upthread, and want to make sure I am not associated with a positive - or even neutral - opinion of what I consider Buca-di-Beppo's close cousin. This huge place is always ridiculously packed with throngs of conventioners, tourists, and locals. Whenever I find myself defending American palates against those who say we wouldn't know a frite from a frijole, I will remind myself of Volare's popularity and give up the argument.

    Last night, we shared two massive plates of pasta drowning in oodles of overly rich, unbalanced sauce. The clams tasted like rubber tires. The pesto was bright green in color, but muted-as-could-be in basil flavor. There was tons of visible garlic in everything, but somehow the kitchen had removed the garlic flavor entirely. What got me to try Volare in the first place was the fact that I walk past it many early mornings, when the staff are already doing heavy prep work, and the wafting garlic aroma is intense. I now suspect that 7:30 AM is the last time one can taste garlic as Volare, as that must be the start of a rest-of-the-day blanching process to appeal to the lowest possible common denominator.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #8 - November 12th, 2008, 12:44 pm
    Post #8 - November 12th, 2008, 12:44 pm Post #8 - November 12th, 2008, 12:44 pm
    I would seond (third) the rec for Coco Pazzo Cafe.
    I have never had their their food be less than outstanding and their atmosphere
    always makes me feel like I've had a mini-Tuscan vacation...

    It's one of my absolute favorite places downtown.
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #9 - November 12th, 2008, 3:10 pm
    Post #9 - November 12th, 2008, 3:10 pm Post #9 - November 12th, 2008, 3:10 pm
    One place that hasn't been coming up in this thread so far and is also nearby is Bice.
    It's at 158 E. Ontario -- a bit more of a walk from Volare or Coco Pazzo Cafe but I used to love to go here for lunch. I know it's a chain of sorts but a chain in the way that Morton's is a chain -- high end, good food served in multiple cities. I've eaten at all three -- Volare, CPC and Bice and Bice would be my favorite.
  • Post #10 - November 12th, 2008, 7:59 pm
    Post #10 - November 12th, 2008, 7:59 pm Post #10 - November 12th, 2008, 7:59 pm
    Fox and Obel would be my top pick in the area. DelaCosta's got some good reviews, but I haven't been and it may be too pricey.
    FIG Catering, For Intimate Gatherings
    Our website
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    molly@FIGcatering.com
  • Post #11 - March 17th, 2011, 8:47 pm
    Post #11 - March 17th, 2011, 8:47 pm Post #11 - March 17th, 2011, 8:47 pm
    A couple of factors conspired to convince me to return to Volare despite the terrible excuse for Italian food I described upthread a couple of years ago. First, stevez recently described what sounded like a decent lunch there. Second, during a fantastic recent meal at Benny's, I learned Benny himself also owns Volare.

    I should not have let myself be swayed. The papardelle alla bolognese I had for lunch was a travesty. As stevez suspected in the link thread, some people "might" describe the dish as oversauced. Oversauced would be an understatement for the massive mound of bland, tomatoey ground meat goo that filled the bowl and made it almost impossible to even locate the pasta. Which might have been on purpose so that the restaurant could cover up its lie. That's not papardelle. That's the same weak little 2 inch square you cut from the large sheets to make your similarly drowned ravioli that I saw all over the dining room. It's a cheat that doesn't work. Those little flat squares are not fun to eat, and they don't pick up sauce the right way.

    I still like you, Steve and Benny. But I'm never going to Volare again.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #12 - March 18th, 2011, 9:02 am
    Post #12 - March 18th, 2011, 9:02 am Post #12 - March 18th, 2011, 9:02 am
    Not to pile on Volare, but I used to have to eat there on a regular basis when I worked in Illinois Center - there was a director who always wanted to go there for lunch. About the only thing I liked on the menu was the grilled seafood salad (same as the grilled seafood appetizer, just with lettuce underneath) - a nice flavor of garlic. The rest of it, meh.
  • Post #13 - March 18th, 2011, 1:50 pm
    Post #13 - March 18th, 2011, 1:50 pm Post #13 - March 18th, 2011, 1:50 pm
    I walk past Volare every single day on my way to/from work, but everyone I have talked to steers me away from it.

    I can honestly say that I really miss CND Gyros next door, but that is a different topic.

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