One of Andersonville’s newest hot spots, Bar Roma, has recently expanded their menu to include weekend brunch. This new restaurant has already begun to carve a reputation as one of the best Italian spots in the Andersonville area. Chef Fred Ramos has curated a superb menu specializing in the cuisine of Rome and its surrounding areas. The dinner menu highlights meatballs, house-made pasta, wood-fired dishes, and Italian-inspired cocktails. The new brunch menu is every bit as exciting at the dinner menu, focusing on Roman twists to traditional brunch favorites.
The brunch menu is small, but everything on it has been chosen to highlight one of Chef Ramos’ signature strengths – fresh ingredients prepared simply and carefully. Nothing on the menu is fussy or complicated yet the layered flavors shine through. On a recent visit, a guest and I sampled nearly everything on the brunch menu, and without fail we were impressed with each item.
When you visit, I suggest that you start with one (or more) of the appetizers from the “Per Cominciare” section of the menu. Some of my favorites were:
- Insalata di Rucola (baby arugula, pear, avocado, smoked prosciutto, and hazelnut vinaigrette) – One of the highlights of the Bar Roma menu is the prosciutto which is crafted in-house. It’s rare to taste prosciutto that is so fresh, and it is a beautiful accompaniment to the spicy arugula, sweet pear, and savory hazelnut flavors.
- Insalata Caprese (creamy mozzarella di Bufala, roasted vine-ripe tomatoes, basil-pesto olive oil) – This is a simple preparation, but delicious. While tomatoes and basil are plentiful and in season, this salad will be particularly superb.
- Colazione di Straciatella (creamy imported Straciatella, grilled grapes, local honey, toasted ciabatta) – This was a stand-out in the meal. The freshly toasted ciabatta is certain to please any bread lover, and I often forget just how delectable grapes become when they are grilled.
For main courses, what they term “Primo Pranzo” on the menu, there are several that are of note:
- Pappardelle con Coda alla Vaccinara (Antonia’s hand-rolled wide ribbon pasta, braised oxtail, ragu, Pecorino Romano) – When we asked about the pasta having someone’s name attached to it, we were told that a family comes in several times a week to hand-roll the pasta using methods that have been passed down for generations. This pasta was created by Antonia but on the dinner menu you will also find some created by her sister, Gregoria. This dish was our favorite of the meal. Again, simple preparation with only a few fresh ingredients, but crafted so well that we were sad to reach the bottom of the bowl.
- Rigatoni alla Carbonara (classic carbonara, bacon, cage-free egg two ways, Pecorino Romano, black pepper) – Egg lovers rejoice! The savory sauce has egg in it, but the dish is served with a lightly poached egg on top. Break it, swirl it into the pasta, and you have a thick and creamy egg and bacon brunch.
- Maritozzi con la Panna (luscious French toast, banana, almond, mascarpone, Nueske’s Applewood smoked bacon) – Just when you think French toast cannot become more interesting, something like this one comes up. The toast is stuffed with mascarpone cheese and banana, sprinkled with almonds, and served with some seriously tasty bacon.
In addition to the items we tried, they have more traditional offerings including a Frittata di Oggi (frittata of the day) which will rotate based on what is in season; Eggs Benedict served with their house-made prosciutto; and a unique Italian twist on chilaquiles, their Torticcio alla Trastevere which combines crispy tortillas with tomato-chipotle sauce, smoky pork belly, avocado, and ricotta salata.
The cocktail program is a perfect accompaniment to the well-crafted brunch dishes. Some of our favorites were:
- Bar Roma Spritz – a large and dangerously-drinkable summery version of an Aperol spritz
- Circus Maximum Bloody Mary – a spicy version of the traditional made with pommodoro and served with a generous garnish
- Pomegranate Basil Smash – London dry gin, pomegranate juice, lemon, and fresh basil combine to create another dangerously-drinkable summertime drink
- Hemingway 1919 – Dennizen rum, lime, apricot luxardo, grapefruit come together in a super boozy (and delicious) cocktail
Bar Roma is located at 5101 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640. The restaurant is open Sunday – Thursday, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Brunch is now available Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. The full menu may be viewed here. For more information, visit the Bar Roma website or call (773) 942-7572. You can also follow their social media conversations on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.