Sunday, February 22, 2015

Riccardo Trattoria

I really like Italian food although I really don't go to many Italian restaurants often.  In my mind, it seems a lot of Italian restaurants serve their food family style which doesn't work well if you are dining by yourself which I do frequently.  Family-style service is generally not the standard despite the impression I have and I will occasionally go to an Italian restaurant to enjoy some good hearty food.  Riccardo Trattoria was recently recommended to me as a very good Italian restaurant so I decided to visit during Chicago Restaurant Week.  The restaurant is located in Lincoln Park and looks like a house in the area.  It is also located across the street from the location of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre which has nothing to do it, but I thought it a little funny that an Italian restaurant was located across the street from a location so infamous in Chicago Italian Mafia history..  The dining room is kind of small, seating about 40 people, but it has a homey feel to it.  The ceiling is high and arched, the walls are light colored with Audobon Prints spread throughout the room and a small bar is located in the center of the room which is used for service.  All of the tables are dark brown wood with most being large round tables set for 4 and the rest being two tops, one of which I was seated at.  The menu looked very good, showing both classic and adventurous elements sometimes in the same dish.  I made my order and was brought a slice of Bruschetta to start things off.  It was a classic bruschetta with diced tomatoes and olive oil on a crunchy slice of bread.  It was simple, classic, and very good with a lot of flavor.
If the bruschetta had been the only starter, it would have been fine, but after the bruschetta came the bread plate.  It contained several slices each of an Onion Focaccia and a Sourdough.  Both were very soft and flavorful and I had to stop myself to ensure that I would have enough room for what I actually ordered.
As for what I ordered, I started with something both classic and adventurous.  It was a Carpaccio (classic), but it was a Peppered Elk Carpaccio (adventurous) with Shaved Parmesan and Shaved Black Truffles (classic) with a Honey Truffle Emulsion (adventurous).  The elk was very thinly sliced, tender, and delicate, but with a surprising amount of flavor.  The Parmesan was in thin slices and added to the flavor of the carpaccio.  The truffles were thinly sliced and scattered across the top of the cheese and elk and while they were thinly sliced and scattered, truffles provide a lot of flavor so it is best to use them minimally lest they overpower the dish.  The truffles were used enough to add to the flavor of the dish without overpowering it.  The honey truffle emulsion was used lightly as well and provided some sweetness along with the truffle funk to finish.

For my entree, I went with Orecchiette Cinghiale a pasta named after it's small ear shape served with Wild Boar Sausage.  The plate also had Sun Dried Tomatoes, Rapini, and was topped with Pecorino Cheese.  The pasta was a perfectly cooked al dente, and the tomatoes and rapini provided a lot of flavor.  The wild boar sausage was also well cooked and flavorful, but it really was a minor flavor point in this dish.  It did however provide a nice meaty texture.  The Pecorino cheese provided a nice finish to the dish.
When I dine out at an Italian restaurant, I will frequently have tiramisu or cannoli.  While I do like both of these, and they were both on the menu, I wanted to try something a little different, so I went with a Tortas di Ricotta or a Ricotta Cheesecake.  While the flavor is similar to a regular cheesecake, it's a little drier and the top had a slight crust on it.  It was also sprinkled with powdered sugar.  It was lighter than a regular cheesecake and texturally different, but it was just as good and made for a great finish.  I really enjoyed my meal here and will be sure to keep it in mind when I am craving some good Italian food.      

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