With the third-largest Italian-American population in the country, there’s no shortage of fantastic Italian food in Chicago. From straight up old-school joints with heaping family-style bowls of house-made carbonara and devoted regulars – and there are many Italian eateries in this category – to cozy neighborhood trattorias, to more contemporary endeavors with delicate, truffle-topped numbers and bird’s eye views of the city, these are the best in the city for carbo-loading. They might even rival your nonna’s tried-and-true family recipes, but don’t tell her that. For when you just really need to satisfy your craving for Italian, check out the spots below (and our list of the best pizza places in town too, if you’re just looking for slices).
Spiaggia Gold Coast The uncontested gold standard for (pricey) Italian fine dining When it comes to Italian fine dining in the heart of Chicago, nothing touches Tony Mantuano’s Michelin-starred Spiaggia. The Mag Mile standby has a light, airy aesthetic, tables with views of Michigan Avenue, and a philosophy that draws from the Italian concept of “sprezzatura,” aka nonchalant elegance, aka ditch the jackets, revel in caviar and burrata, gnocchi showered in black truffles, perfectly marbled ribeye that’s been dry-aged for 45 days, and a deconstructed tiramisu. For a more wallet-friendly experience, the adjacent sibling café doles out equally refined dishes in a more casual setting, a perfect midday shopping escape.