The food at Quartino was phenomenal! Being very Italian, I'm a hard critic when it comes to Italian food, but Quartino does it right. Everything is served family style, which I love because then you get to try a little bit of everything! They of course start you out with bread and water and they have olive oil and balsamic vinegar available for the bread. Great start for me...I need my bread. We each ordered one pasta in the spirit of Lent (shhh we cheated with a little bit of prosciutto!) We ordered the tortellini, cavatelli, and the orecchiette. All three were incredible but I think we all decided that the cavatelli was our favorite. We drank the night away with a litre of Chianti from Poggio al Sale. I couldn't pass up dessert because well that's me...stuff my face till my stomach hurts, so I ordered the zeppole. They are little light doughnuts that come with a chocolate and honey dipping sauce. My actual heaven!
Ambience + Atmosphere
It was very crowded on a Friday night. Rather loud, too, but we could still have a nice conversation and still hear each other. As you can see from my pictures it was a pretty dim room which gave a nice dinner atmosphere. I think it's the perfect place for a cozy date with your significant other or for a small group of friends. I'm not sure it'd be the best for a large group though. It's a pretty narrow restaurant and from what I could tell there isn't much space for a big group to be seated comfortably.
The restaurant is located in Chicago's River North neighborhood, which is just blowing up with great places to eat and drink. Prior to our dinner we met for cocktails at a bar across the street and walked over at the time of our reservation. It's so easy to do this all throughout the neighbor. I love not being stuck in once place all night. As for transportation, we took the CTA blue line and transferred to the red line. We got off at Grand/State and Quartino was only a block north of the stop. Incredibly easy! There is also street parking and parking garages available near the restaurant for those that would like to drive. Street parking is very hit or miss though. You have to get really lucky on a weekend to get a good spot and the meters are only for two hours. As for parking garages, plan to pay as much as an entree for a spot in a lot.
Extras + Details
The good news is Quartino accepts reservations! The bad news is it's a great restaurant, so you have to make your reservations way in advance! I hopped on Open Table two days before we wanted to go and the earliest time I could get in for dinner was 9:30 PM! 9:30! Jeeze that's late for an old timer like me ;) but it worked out with being able to go out for drinks before dinner. However, if you want reservations at a more American dinner time I suggest making them a week+ in advance. Good luck with just walking in...I'm not sure I suggest putting yourself through that. You'll torture yourself with the heavenly smell and waiting two hours for a table. Like I said above for the food section, the restaurant serves it's food family style so plan on having to pitch in on one check when your awesome dinner comes to an end.
This is definitely a popular spot in River North, and I'm so glad I got to experience it. I definitely want to go back for a date night with Caleb and I'm thinking I might need to bring some friends here when they drop in for visits. I give Quartino a big thumbs up on everything! Quartino has been added to the Chicago City Guide along with a couple other spots we discovered this past weekend. So make sure you give it a little glance over to see what's new!