This January, Chicago got blessed with another great Italian restaurant. I’m talking about Formento’s in the West Loop neighborhood. I can hear a collective sigh among residents who are doubting whether Randolph Street needs another dining spot. Maybe not but we are lucky to have this one.
Last night I hopped the CTA Green Line to the Morgan ‘L’ stop and walked one block south to Formento’s which has made a home at the corner of Randolph and Sangamon Streets. The CTA Pink Line also stop here.
Chef/Partner Tony Quartaro and
the uber talented B. Hospitality Group (Balena) are bringing us an updated twist on traditional Italian-American cuisine.
After choosing a booth near the sunny window along Randolph Street, I ordered a Rosa Spritz cocktail and enjoyed this lovely complimentary, warm focaccia bread and giardiniera.
Since temps were in the 80’s and the humidity was weighing me down, I decided to keep my meal on the lighter side. Check out these lovely, squash blossoms! They were tender and just the right amount of crispy. Chef Quartaro stuffs them with house made mascarpone cheese which oozed out in drool-worthy abundance. The blossoms were accompanied by a spicy ‘nduja vinaigrette which added the perfect amount of zing to this dish. Fabulous! If you can find your way to these squash blossoms before the season ends, do it! They won’t last too much longer.
Formento’s has you covered with traditional appetizers and entrees like “Nonna’s Relish Tray,” clams casino, Italian wedding soup and canestri pasta with Sunday gravy (pork neck, meatballs and fennel sausage. However, once my eye caught hold of this walleye en cartoccio, my mind was made up.
Walleye is a local, meaty white fish. Formento’s prepares it parchment paper (en cartoccio) which seals in all the juices. It’s my favorite way to prepare fish at home. The fish was crusted in pistachios and combined with new potatoes, cippolini onions and capers. The cippolini onions made this dish sing. There was an ample amount of lemon and olive oil added to the mix. So lovely and light. Perfect for a summer evening.
The space at Formento’s is beautiful, warm and inviting. More than in any other American city, Chicago restaurant groups really know how to create dining experiences that are both casual yet elegant. So, whether you are out with friends, business colleagues or enjoying a family celebration, Formento’s is a great place to be. The lighting is really pretty here, too. Care to sit outside? No worries! There is a pretty patio right on bustling Randolph Street which you can enjoy, as long as the weather holds out. Here’s hoping!
Formento’s is also offering brunch on the weekends, if that is more your bag. I intend to swing by soon to check that out, as well as more of the delicious dinner options. They are open every day for lunch and dinner. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, click here
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Green or Pink Lines to Formento’s. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!