Bar Ombra – A Taste of Venice in Andersonville, Chicago

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 Ombrabarstaurant in Andersonville, which I knew would be able to transport me mentally, if not physically, back to Venice. 

 

Bar Ombra in Andersonville

Bar Ombra in Chicago

 

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.  

 

CTA red Line near Bar Ombra

 

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.  

 

Bar Ombra's patio

Bar seats at Bar Ombra

Such a cozy and inviting spot!

 

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.  

 

Squash blossoms at Bar Ombra

First of the season squash blossoms – lovely!

Bar Ombra's cicchetti

Bar Ombra's appetizers

 

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's pasta

Oreccheitte with spicy sausage, greens, tomato, garlic and Parmeggian-Reggiano is a traditional Venetian pasta dish

 

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!

 

Venetian Spritz at Bar Ombra

Venetian Spritz – Prosecco, aperol and soda

 

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.  

 

Bar Ombra in Chicago

 

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! 

Berwyn L stop near Bar Ombra

 

  • I adore exploring ALONE! I went to Australia all by myself (I felt so adult, LOL) and it was MAGICAL! You get to do everything on your OWN TIME and you can do WHATEVER THE HECK YOU WANT, WHENEVER YOU WANT! 😀 It’s seriously the best, and I highly recommend EVERYONE take advantage of ALONE time!

    • Melissa Falk

      Brava! I have been traveling solo for over 20 years. I could not agree more about the freedom and lack of drama that can come with travelling with friends or family. I hope you check out some of my solo travel stories as well. My piece on Venice is my most viewed post.

      I hope to get to Australia solo me t year. The, I will only have Asia and Antarctica to conquer 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Bar Ombra sounds fabulous! Too bad I’m in LA 🙁

    My mother was born in Italy, but I have never heard of a ciccetteria before! Of course, if it’s something that’s found in the northern part of Italy more than the south, that would probably explain it, as I haven’t been to the north of Italy in quite a few years. I love the idea of the drinks and small plates, like an Italian tapas restaurant…what’s not to love! One day I will visit Chicago; I just wish I’d done it when I lived in Michigan for 11 years!

    • Melissa Falk

      Hi, Christina. My mother’s family came from Genoa and Parma.

      Yes, cicchetterias are found in Northern Italy rather than in the south of the country. The tradition is the work your way through a few if these small, free bites places in a night. The more drinks you order (and those are not too expensive), the more food comes your way. How civilized! Mangia!