Tucked underneath Francesca’s On Chestnut in The Seneca building in Streeterville is a cozy brick-walled, cave like Italian eatery called DiSotto Enoteca, the name means “underground wine bar” in Italian. Legend has it that the building built in the 1920s as a hotel and designed by Burnham Brothers firm was once owned by a Chicago gangster and that the space that currently houses this restaurant was a speakeasy during Prohibition. Fast forward 100 years and the booze is legal, this intimate spot just off of Michigan Avenue offers Italian small plates, perfect for sharing.
- Charcuterie Board: Italian meats & cheeses, chef’s treats. This is beautifully Instagrammable and delicious.
- Paulo’s Burrata: marinated tomatoes, basil, olive oil, sea salt, grilled bread. Some say that burrata has reached the end of its popularity run. I say “bring on the cheese.”
- Polpette di Melanzane: crispy eggplant, fontina, tomato basil, prosciutto. This dish was surprisingly the MVP of the evening. No one expects eggplant meatballs to be the most delicious, but here we are.
- Scottadito: pork ribs, balsamic agrodolce, gorgonzola. Thick slabs of ribs with unexpected flavors.
- Squid Ink Chitarra: squid ink pasta, calamari, crab, fresno chilies, scallion, uni butter, tomato. This unique dish was a recommendation of the manager…and the server…and the busboy. It was packed with seafood and did not disappoint.
- Linguine alla Bolognese: sautéed in a tomato meat sauce with carrots, celery, onions, fresh herbs and parmigiana. Maybe the most traditional of Italian dishes, my dining companion added sausage and declared the dish delightful.
- Pizza with sausage, onion and spinach. Just the right size for two people.
- Torta Lava: flourless semi-sweet chocolate cake with a molten chocolate center served warm with mint chocolate gelato and fresh mixed berries. The warhorse of fine dining desserts, this dish never fails to delight.
- Profiteroles al Pistacchio: delicate cream puffs served warm with pistachio gelato and chocolate sauce. These profiteroles took me straight back to my first time in Italy, in the best possible way. Delicate and decadent.
- Torta di Ricotta con Zucca: ricotta-pumpkin cheesecake with maple sabayon, pepitas, and an apple cider pipette. ‘Tis the season for pumpkin everything, this cheesecake is light…a terrific end to a potentially heavy dinner.
DiSotto Enoteca is a sexy little hideaway spot just off Michigan Avenue, perfect for an intimate dinner or it can be fully booked for a private party.
DiSotto Enoteca is open Sunday through Thursday, 5p -10p and Friday through Saturday, 5p – midnight. 200 E. Chestnut, 312-482-8800.