A pool filled with natto might be the gnarliest thing I can think of
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Posted October 4th 2004, 12:07pm
More inherited opinion on a place that lots of folks here know, but one that really hasn't been discussed: Sabatino's on Irving near the Kennedy. You either love it or you wonder what the big deal is. Anyway, I was there recently and had a fantastic meal. While all sorts of free stuff "comes with" you should still try the house-cured bresaola (or the antipasto platter, which includes it and very good salume) before dinner. I'd add the veal chop to the list of big-deal bargains below in this old post. Save room for table-side flaming desserts.

Chicago-Italian places that time forgot, [include] Sabatino's and the recently-ruined Biasetti's (the ambiance, including the 1977-vintage NFL helmets at the bar, has been lost to a late, ill-conceived makeover by the new management; however, I must confess the steaks are now better and the North Side (baked) ribs remain the genre's benchmark). Sabatino's is, IMO, several notches higher in terms of food quality and early David Lynch style. Indeed, I rank it above Cafe La Cave, Myron and Phil's (Jewish variation on the theme) and Francesco's Hole in the Wall among my only-in-Chicago experiences. When you go, be sure to stick to the theme: anything with "parmagiana," "vesuvio," or "De Jonghe" in the name is safe. Special meat and fish preparations usually fail. Finally, if you are up to it, the kitchen seems to give special attention to certain heavy-hitter entrees such as the zuppa di pesce and the NY strip, both of which are huge, surprisingly good, and priced at about 50% of what they should be. The pound of lobster in the former dish continues to amaze me and supports my theory that much of the produce here has fallen off a truck. They make a very solid Manhattan (the natural choice in a place like this) too.

Charter Member
Posted October 4th 2004, 12:20pm
I've always wondered about Cafe La Cave-- the outside looks sort of banquet hall-y and not that interesting but sounds like there's more, uh, character inside? Or at least more characters?

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Posted October 6th 2004, 7:30am
I ate at Biasetti's Monday night and had the rib special - a full slab of ribs for $12.99. That's one heck of deal. The ribs were absolutely delicious. I always order garlic dressing as a side to go with my relish tray, and I actually think they have changed the recipe. It wasn't quite the same or as good.

After the new owner destroyed Biasetti's ambiance, I swore never to return, but I still go back every six months or, so driven by nostalgia, to have mai tais and ribs. It is nice that the new owner kept all the old staff. Patty always waits on us and is always lovely.
Posted October 6th 2004, 3:13pm
thanks for the tips! as it happens i am going to sabatino's tonight. will report my thoughts. yeah flaming desserts!

Pitmaster Emeritus
Posted March 17th 2005, 9:42am

With LTH talk of late about restaurants of a certain time-forgotten style when my bride suggested Sabatino's for the Wednesday lobster special I was all ears. While Ellen occasionally partakes of the lobster special with her sisters I hadn't been to Sabatino's for at least a year, could be two, maybe even three though, of course, nothing seemed to have changed. Which is the beauty of the place.

No parking problem at Sabatino's, large lot with free, be sure to tip, valet. No drinking problem at Sabatino's, or should I say no problem getting a drink at the large convivial bar, as there seemed to be a few fellows in full-on Saint Paddy's Day mode. No problem smoking at Sabatino's, you want to smoke, which we did not, there's a separate room for you, no smoke, large well separated room for you. Both very comfortable.

Want music, no problem, strolling musicians, who, surprisingly, were quite good. Actually, that seems to be one of the recurring themes at Sabatino's, no problem, happy to accommodate, customer is king. Refreshing

Ellen's lobster tail was good size, quite tasty and, for $21.95 with soup and salad, a startling good deal. My chicken Vesuvio, $13.95 including soup and salad, was also quite good, tender, flavorful and juicy, even the breast which in my chicken Vesuvio experience is often dried out. If I had to quibble it'd be about the potatoes with the Vesuvio, which were of the soft roasted variety, though I'm guessing to those who don't crave crisp in a potato they are well accepted.

Warm D'Amato's bread, olive oil and grated cheese on the table, plus a few slices of pizza bread and very fresh red pepper flakes for the asking kept us occupied during the short wait for our soup, though next time I fully intend to try the JeffB recommended house-cured bresaola.

One slightly humorous note, while I am no linguist I am 90% certain our very personable waiter was affecting an Italian accent, by way of Bridgeport. :lol:

All in all a very enjoyable meal, I'll be back soon.


Sabatino's Restaurant & Lounge
4441 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60641

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Charter Member
Posted March 17th 2005, 9:59am
No cherrie's jubiliee:?:

Pitmaster Emeritus
Posted March 17th 2005, 10:08am
Vital Information wrote:No cherrie's jubiliee:?:

Nope, no baked Alaska either. Maybe next time.

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Posted March 17th 2005, 10:16am
Beth and I made it to Sabatino's last weekend and had a wonderful meal. We requested a private booth when making the reservation and they said they'd try -- but couldn't guarantee -- one. We got it, and despite the tight squeeze to get in, it was a nice little echo chamber and very romantic.

The painting of a young nude woman right outside the booth I'm sure was meant to add to the romance, but it mostly just make us giggle. Because, you know, it's not like I look at nude women for a living or anything.

I had the "chef's cut" strip steak with minestrone and roquefort dressing on my iceberg salad. She had pappardelle with mushrooms, stracciatelle, and italian-dressed iceberg. Notable about the salads: the tomatoes were among the best I've had in March. Really amazingly good for the season. Plus, the roquefort dressing was generous and very tasty.

My steak was a perfect medium rare, tender, juicy, flavorful, and massive. As others have said, they should be charging twice as much for it. I'm glad they aren't. I wasn't as enamored of the meat sauce on the mostaccioli that accompanied it -- it was fine, but nothing special to me. She loved her ($12!) pappardelle, and was quite sad when the busser clearing the table didn't ask if she wanted it wrapped (and she didn't ask in time).

Dessert was baked alaska for two, which looked great. As JiLS said, you don't order it for how it tastes, but for how it looks. Maybe cherries jubilee next time :)

And, with the bill at under $60 before tip, it really was a superb deal. We'll be back.


Ed Fisher
my chicago food photos


Charter Member
Posted March 17th 2005, 10:34am
gleam wrote:Dessert was baked alaska for two, which looked great. As JiLS said, you don't order it for how it tastes, but for how it looks. Maybe cherries jubilee next time :)

Please do not forget about the Bananas Foster!

One of my favorite dinners I've ever had in Chicago was a group of 10 of us that somehow wound up at Sabatino's on a Saturday night at 10pm drunk, looking for dinner. Somehow, they accomodated us easily and kept feeding us dirty martinis.

For dessert we managed to get all three flaming desserts going simulaneously around our table: cherries, alaska, and my favorite, the bananas foster.

Sabatino's doesn't serve my favorite food, but I have some great memories of good times there. Thanks for the reminder.

Michael /EC
Posted March 17th 2005, 11:53am
Sabatino's is one of those places that really doesn't do it for me. I've been there on several occasions through the years and have never found it to be that much to my liking. I keep hearing these fabulous reports and they just don't jive with my own experience. What am I missing? I'm more than willing to give it another try. Maybe I'll try a Wednesday night lobster special next time.

Steve Z.

“Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.”
― Haruki Murakami
Posted March 17th 2005, 12:44pm
Word on the street here is that a certain group of colorful characters was asked, very, very nicely, to stop hanging out at a well known Jefferson Park rib restaurant because they were attracting too much attention from federal officials investigating the Hired Truck scandal. Same said group of colorful characters is now being spotted regularly at Sabatino's. So if the guy next to you looks familiar, and you can't quite place him, think back to the pictures in the paper...Anna
Posted March 17th 2005, 12:47pm
Steve, I've been through much trial and error with Sabatino's. My sure-fire dishes are, in order of ordering,

Antipasto for two. Enough for 3-4, this platter usually includes several very good sausages, mortadella (a sausage, I know), and if one is lucky, bresaola, along with relish tray-type vegetables.

The soup has to be stracciatella. Do not be tempted otherwise. Do not get the clam chowder, ever.

The salad should include crumbled gorganzola. The house oil and vinegar is fine, but I like to go old school with the 1000 island.

I don't get that excited about the pasta, whcich is true for me at nearly every Italian restaurant at every level. However, I'd consider the linguine in the zuppa di pesce as nothing more than a vehicle for the bounty of shellfish and the rich lobster infused red sauce. Pesto is really quite good on the fresh tagliatele, but be sure to ask for a light dressing or you are liable to get the 'mericani style big extra ladle. Vodka/cream sauce is good if you go for that. I mostly don't. The strip, as confirmed above, is quite the deal for a bigass, well cooked, prime steak. Dover sole, boned tableside appears to be the real thing, at under 20 bucks. Chicken Vesuvio is a sure thing. Veal dishes are quite good, in my experience. The meat dishes are big enough, and the "comes with" items good and plenty. So consider splitting a pasta course then a meat course.

Cherries jubilee, bananas foster, Lezza spumoni, grappa, ok espresso. It is what it is.

They now have a web site, not so good, not working. Enzo and Angelo, the owners, seem like good folks. The trilingual (and more) staff are usually great, though some servers can be painfully slow. My favorite is a woman whose name I forget, but she is a French-born Spaniard.

Posted March 17th 2005, 1:07pm

Next time I go to Sabatinos, it will be with your crib sheet in hand and my anti-smoke personal fan in tow. :twisted: :lol: :twisted:

Steve Z.

“Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.”
― Haruki Murakami
Posted March 17th 2005, 8:36pm
I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating. The lunch specials at Sabatino's are great. $5.95 - $7.95 for alot of the same things you can get at dinner for twice the price. If you're there in the summer, they make a veal tonnato that can't be beat. Also, if you're friendly with Angelo and/or Enzo and they're having lunch - ask for whatever they're having. You WILL NOT be dissapointed. Something not on the menu that you like? Ask them, often times one of them will go into the kitchen and fix it for you himself. I love Sabatino's. Fie on Biassetis.
Posted April 30th 2005, 9:55pm
Friday night Mrs. JiLS and I dined at Sabatino's, which I've made no bones about being one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago. They did not dissapoint. And this evening, it was Chateaubriand. And we went whole hog, with a tenderloin that could choke a horse (but gently, and the horse would like it), vegetables fried up in egg batter (we could've opted for grilled vegetables, but why?), and perfectly crisp and delicious chateau potatoes. The usual pizza bread appetizer, loaf of the world's best Italian bread, salad with blue cheese dressing and stracchiatella soup. Enough food for four, and less than fifty bucks.

The Chateubriand tableside assembly gave me pause in relation to the likes of Moto, especially dishes like Moto's deconstructed French onion soup -- the expertise with which the Chateaubriand was finished and assembled (including the flaming alcohol) makes Moto's liquid nitrogen in a bowl look contrived and undermined. Nothing new under the sun, etc... This plus an expensive but fairly priced Napa Cab (which warranted a comped bruschetta and fresh fruit plate) left a sparkle in our eyes as we floated out to the valet stand. Sabatino's again proved itself as a true class act.
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