There’s nothing quite like a favorite restaurant.
It’s the place you confidently recommend to friends and out-of-towners, knowing that it won’t disappoint. It’s where you want to go to kick back after a long day, or to celebrate a success, or to unwind on the weekend.
In Chicago, it’s Francesca’s.
Your favorite location of Francesca’s, or Mia Francesa’s as some of them are called, is contingent on where in Chicago you live or are staying, but it’s definitely a place known to locals. Francesca’s on Taylor, Francesca’s Forno, Mia Francesca, or the one we visited most recently, Francesca’s on Chestnut.
In fact, there are 20 locations in the greater Chicago area, so it’s not hard to find one where you can try some of the Italian specialties.
We’d heard the Carpaccio del Giorno was good, and it lived up to expectations. A nice plate full of thinly sliced raw sirloin with capers, tomatoes, arugula, all lightly doused with a delicious herb-tinged olive oil and slices of parmigiano was very shareable, especially when paired with the Brushette with a smooth goat cheese.
For salads, we loved the fresh beet salad, but you can also choose among a selection that includes String Bean, Pea Pods, Asparagus, or Insalata Caprese. They come with warm bread and, if you ask nicely, a generous helping of grated parmigiano.
Hint: it may not be on the menu, but ask the chef for his special peas and asparagus risotto. It is magnificent.
As for entrees, they all looked good—with the freshness indicated by the hand lettered menu. Our waiter suggested the Cappellacci all’Aragosta, which is lobster filled pasta with shallots, fresh tomatoes and tarragon in a creamy sauce, and we were all drooling. Incidentally, we loved that he wasn’t afraid to tell us it was the best thing on the menu! If more servers would be bold, it would make choosing much easier.
The Salmone ai Funghi is another good selection, or the Linguine dei Sardi. In fact, you probably can’t go wrong with any selection that appeals. And, they all appeal.
The restaurant itself offers the appeal of a neighborhood restaurant in a noisy, vibrant, energetic atmosphere. We saw all ages, with tables of quiet business people ending their day, and tables full of young professionals just beginning their night life.
It’s white linen and low lighting in a place where you can easily run into your neighbor, or avoid them with a carry out order. It’s the kind of place you’d consider eating in several times a week.
It’s that good.
We capped off our meal with a selection of small bites, proving just how ‘on trend’ this restaurant is. The banana cream pie layered into a mold, the small bites with sweet raspberries on top, the lemon bars—all done exceedingly well.
Francesca’s is comfortable enough to let you draw on the paper-lined white linen, and professional enough to be the place you hatch your next big business idea.
Either way, you win.
See the news about Francesca’s national expansion, here