Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cafe Spiaggia

Yesterday, I treated Tyler (and myself) to a birthday dinner at Spiaggia Café. While it was a bit pricey, it was worth every cent.

The café is on the second floor of 980 N. Michigan Ave, and is divided into three sections. We ended up in a section that felt like it was once a hallway, long and somewhat narrow. Our table felt shoved up against window, to create room for an aisle, so we felt a little bit cramped. The decor itself, with frescos on the wall and hand-blown light fixtures hanging above the tables, was pretty, although the extraordinarily quiet atmosphere caused the restaurant to seem a bit stuffy, but maybe that was also because we were the youngest people in the café, even though we're in our mid/late 20's.

All of that, though, is overshadowed by the amazing food, even the bread. Spiaggia doesn't serve Parmesan with their bread and olive oil, but that's because it doesn't need to. The olive oil is selected by Chef Tony Mantuano and available exclusively at Spiaggia, even to buy and take home. Along with the bread, the basket also contains some crispy cheese flatbread.

We started with the buffalo mozzarella appetizer; paired with acorn squash and prosciutto, the mozzarella tasted delicate and was sinfully delicious. As for entrees, the gnocchi with wild boar reminded me of my grandmother's Italian cooking; the gnocchi was handmade and fluffy, with the wild boar and red sauce adding a punch of flavor. We also had the ravioli, full of ricotta cheese and more prosciutto (the prosciutto is amazingly fresh). The grilled Treviso—a leafy vegetable—complemented the ravioli and added a crunchy kick to the dish. The sauce was light and sweet, which melded well with the other flavors of the ravioli.

I definitely recommend Café Spiaggia; it's much cheaper than it's extraordinarily expensive counter-part, Spiaggia Restaurant, just across the hall, and is definitely delicious—but be sure to request a table for 4, so you don't feel cramped!

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