Last year I blogged about a solo trip I took to Venice and the Veneto, entitled Who Goes to Venice Alone? I Do! To date, it is the most viewed piece I have written. I am so happy that people liked it, found it helpful and inspiring. Lately, that post made me really nostalgic (read: “hungry”) for some traditional Venetian fare. Luckily, Chicago has Bar Ombra, a barstaurant in Andersonville, which I knew would be able to transport me mentally, if not physically, back to Venice.
Bar Ombra is a lovely 10 minute walk west of the Berwyn ‘L’ stop along the CTA Red Line. The #22 Clark bus will take you there as well. Take your time strolling over to this delicious food find, as the houses in this adorable neighborhood are worth admiring. There are some other really terrific restaurants and bars on Clark Street which I will be sure to share with you soon. Although I was here to chow down at Bar Ombra, historically, Andersonville is known as Chicago’s Swedish neighborhood.
Upon approaching Bar Ombra, you immediately feel like you are about to have a special experience. It is set up like a typical Venetian cicchetteria (Italian for tapas bar). It is small, informal and cozy. Now that summer is here, the windows have been thrown open and this cicchetteria spills out onto Clark Street. Although the U.S. is not ever likely to embrace the custom of free cicchetti or tapas with paid-for libations, as do Italy and Spain, I appreciate this small nod toward those traditions.
Here’s how my cicchetti went down:
First, I bellied up to a stool outside at the bar. TIP: When pretending to be in Venice, do as the Venetians do! There are some tables set up on Clark Street but I wanted to channel a typical cicchetteria experience.
There are so many great items from which to choose but I had to start off with the squash blossoms. It is the height of the season for them and I did not want to miss out. These little delights were stuffed with ricotta cheese and country tomatoes. They were light and sweet.
Next up, I chose this orecchiette with house made sausage, tomato, garlic, spicy greens and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Kudos to Bar Ombra for having a generous hand when it comes to olive oil! As it should be. This pasta was a delicious, pillowy pile of yummy. The sausage and sauce were both sweet and spicy. They nailed this dish. It definitely brought me back to the Veneto where orecchiette is a staple pasta.
Bar Ombra has a really nice selection of Venetian wines, cocktails beer and grappa. I washed down my meal with this Venetian Spritz made Prosecco, aperol and soda. So refreshing!
This was not my first visit to Bar Ombra. I have been here before with friends during the winter. I will be back again to check out more of the cicchetti and their wood-fired pizzas.
Although there are no small canals nearby, Bar Ombra succeeded in suspending my Chicago reality for a little while and brought back memories of my fabulous solo adventure in Venice. Marty Fosse owns Bar Ombra as well as adjoining barstaurant Acre and Antemprima, a more formal restaurant located 2 doors north on Clark Street.
Bar Ombra is located at 5310 N. Clark Street. It is open on weekdays starting at 5pm and on weekends starting at 3pm. Click here for more information.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Red Line or #22 Clark Bus to Bar Ombra. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!