Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chicago: Neighborhood Italian dining at Ripasso (Bucktown)

On the first night I was in Chicago visiting my friend, it was almost 9pm when I arrived at her place - late for a weeknight. So we decided to walk down the street in her neighborhood of Bucktown/Wicker Park to grab a bite. Ripasso is a neighborhood favored Italian restaurant owned by Theo Gilbert, who opened the beloved but now shuttered Terragusto. Gilbert is known for his authentic Italian cuisine, especially his hand-cut pastas. And that was exactly what I was craving after being on the road for 3 hours.

The restaurant was rather empty when we got there, but I attributed it to being late on a weeknight.

The menu is seasonal and comprised of some antipasti, pastas and a few entrees.

The bread wasn't anything special, just regular. Usually I want to devour a whole basket but I did not feel the urge here. I know it's only bread, but I feel that it really just starts an Italian meal off on the right foot if the bread is well seasoned or fresh.

Prosciutto with arugula, crimini and fennel. The prosciutto was soft and buttery, with a lightly salted flavor. Very nice combination of the sharp flavors from the arugula and fennel. The dish was topped with a fragrant black truffle vinaigrette.

Crispy potato and cheese puff was unique and not what I had expected. It had a nice crunchy breading, soft in the center. The puffs were topped with basil pesto and parmigiano cheese.

The pappardelle with creamy four-meat sauce was mouth-watering. I can see how this could be a very addictive dish. The wide flat pasta was fresh and tender. Every strand was covered with a very rich and decadent creamy meat sauce comprising of veal, beef, lamb, pork. I just wanted to slurp up every last drop of the sauce. It was well seasoned and the icing on the top was the white truffle essence and sharp parmigiano cheese.

Overall, the pasta was the winner, everything else was tasty but not memorable. But then, pasta is what Ripasso is known for. I wish we were hungry enough to order more pasta dishes so that we could sample more. There was a squid ink pasta with seafood in tarragon sauce that caught my eye.

1619 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 342-8799

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