Coco Pazzo

Though its area is only slightly larger than the state of Arizona, Italy is a magnificently diverse nation when it comes to food. While it's easy to connect Italian food with red-sauce ragù or spaghetti and meatballs, each of the country's 20 different regions offer unique culinary treasures of their own. You don't have to travel to Italy to explore its rich food culture: here are four Italian restaurants in Chicago that focus on outstanding, regional cuisine.

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Region: Puglia

Restaurant: Macello

Macello

Located in the West Loop neighborhood, Macello features family recipes from ”southern Italy, specifically the heel of Italy’s “boot, a.k.a. the Puglia region, where both owners have ties. Open for lunch and dinner, Macello highlights the specialties of Italy’s Adriatic coastal region, including assaggini (stuffed mussels; grilled octopus; barese sausage; stuffed artichoke; oregano shrimp), seafood, steaks and chops cooked in the wood burning oven (jumbo prawns; catch of the day; filet tenderloin; lamb chop casserole; roasted chicken;pork chop), meat and cheese offerings, pasta and risotto (orecchiette with rolled braciole beef sirloin; cavatelli with mussels, cannellini beans and spicy white wine cherry tomato sauce; spaghettini with octopus; risotto with barese sausage and fava beans).  

Macello
1235 W. Lake Street
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Region: Piedmont

Restaurant: Osteria Langhe and Animale

Osteria Langhe
 
Animale

Osteria Langhe and its fast-casual cousin Animale feature the unparalleled cuisine of Italy’s Piedmont region. Opened in 2014 by owner Aldo Zaninotto and chef/partner Cameron Grant, the restaurant keeps the focus on locally sourced, traditional Piedmontese fare such as homemade pastas and regional meat specialties including lamb, rabbit and beef. Osteria Langhe's extensive wine list offers vintages carefully selected from the region as well. Don't miss the plin, tiny, housemade pasta dumplings filled with tasty La Tur and Grana Padano cheeses.

Osteria Langhe
2824 W. Armitage Ave.
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Animale
1904 N. Western Ave.
No reservations necessary

 

 

Region: Tuscany

Restaurant: Coco Pazzo

Coco Pazzo

Coco Pazzo offers both classic and contemporary dishes inspired by the central region of Tuscany and interpreted by executive chef Federico Comacchio. From wild ramps, tiny pea tendrils and lamb in the spring to wild boar, house-made duck prosciutto and wild-caught salmon in the fall, the season’s best offerings are the stars of the menu. Try the ribollitta, a traditional Tuscan vegetable soup, the tordelli Lucchesi, housemade meat-filled ravioli, a tradition in the small Tuscan town of Lucca, and cacciucco Livornese, a spicy seafood stew from the port city of Livorno.  

Coco Pazzo
300 W. Hubbard St.
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Region: Sicily

Restaurant: Monastero's

Monastero's

Monastero's, a Chicago favorite since 1962, boasts three generations of chefs creating authentic Sicilian cuisine. Sample the arancine siciliane, risotto croquettes stuffed with ground beef, tomato sauce & green peas, and the cioppino, a Sicilian-American stew via San Francisco. Don't leave off a slice of Monastero’s special Sicilian-style pizza topped with sausage, mushrooms, peppers and onions.

Even the decor here recalls Italy's biggest island: See if you can spot the Sicilian horse and cart hand-carved and painted by Palermo’s finest artisans, shields painted by artist Milan Bulovic that depict the history of Sicily, the painting of the Castle of Caccamo by Sicilian artist Nino Parlagreco, the leather panels silk-screened with the emblems of the provinces of Sicily and mini-stages where characteristic Sicilian puppets are displayed.

Monastero's
3935 W. Devon Ave.
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Looking for more Chicago restaurant recommendations? Between the ethnic fusion and classic comfort foods, the biggest challenge you'll find is fitting it all in! From Garrett Popcorn to giant steaks, here are 20 must-eats in Chicago to start with.