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Viaggio - Italian American with a Backbeat

Viaggio - Italian American with a Backbeat
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  • Viaggio - Italian American with a Backbeat

    Post #1 - December 14th, 2008, 11:20 am
    Post #1 - December 14th, 2008, 11:20 am Post #1 - December 14th, 2008, 11:20 am
    --

    What goes thump-thump-thump has 6 42-inch eyes a disco ball hot bartenderess and surprisingly good Chicago Italian by way of Southern Italy?

    Survey says: Viaggio

    I'm conflicted about Viaggio, Mike Sula (m'th'su) recommended it on a few occasions, and penned a positive review in the Reader, but on a bass thumping pre holiday party heavy Friday evening positive v negative were running neck and neck.

    The good news, attention is paid to the plate, starting with house made peppers in oil, warm crusty bread and lovely perfumed olive oil exhibiting just a hint of nutshell bitterness bite.

    - Mussels in white wine and garlic. Plump mussels, ample toasted bread to sop up rich broth.
    - Mixed Green Salad, interesting mix of greens, onion, tomato, cucumber, balanced balsamic dressing.
    - Orchietta with sauteed hot and sweet sausage, escarole and white beans, Terrific, best dish of the evening. Fennely coarse ground sausage, tender, yet toothsome, beans, orchietta just to the point of chew, but not tough. A balanced and well made dish.
    - Cheese Ravioli and Meatballs served in meatball sauce. Quality canned tomatoes with hand crushed texture and full bright flavor, a well rounded sauce. Ravioli filled with fresh ricotta, meatballs moist, but the overall effect was mildly uninteresting.
    - Brick Chicken, a daily special, whole chicken baked under a brick with potato wedges and gloves of roasted garlic. Flavorful, though breast meat verged on dry and skin was not crisp. Close, but from my perspective, a near miss.

    The bad news, loud never ending techno beat, 6 flat screen televisions, 4 playing a continuous loop of the Godfather, the other 2 set to ESPN. Full to capacity and beyond with multiple holiday parties contributing to ear canal cracking cacophony and stressing wait-staff.

    I found Viaggio overpriced, Sula countered that's made up by portion size, but if I wanted leftovers to take home and never eat I'd go to Maggiano's. I also disagree that the portions are all that large, but either way $18 for Orchietta with sausage and white beans seems high, though nothing approaching the wine list markup.

    Service was informed and professional, from the on the mark interactive hostess to bar staff and well informed professional wait staff. Though the over eager bus staff has a habit of taking plates, on multiple occasions, away with food on them.

    As Crrush pointed out, my wife and I had the pleasure of dining with Crrush and Chris, a pre holiday busy Friday night may not be the best first time/first impression of Viaggio. I'll go back, but make sure it's midweek and post holiday.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Viaggio
    1330 W Madison St
    Chicago, Il 60607
    312-829-3333
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #2 - December 14th, 2008, 12:15 pm
    Post #2 - December 14th, 2008, 12:15 pm Post #2 - December 14th, 2008, 12:15 pm
    G Wiv wrote: ...if I wanted leftovers to take home and never eat I'd go to Maggiano's.


    I'll go ahead and be captain obvious.
    This will prolly be the funniest thing a lot of us will have read all day.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #3 - December 14th, 2008, 1:37 pm
    Post #3 - December 14th, 2008, 1:37 pm Post #3 - December 14th, 2008, 1:37 pm
    What you're describing here seems to be a carbon copy (trying hard to be polite, it may not last though) of a great Fort Lauderdale restaurant named Cafe Martarano, which by hearing about and reading this, seems to be entirely "borrowed" from.

    First hint is the S. Fla. connection. Martarano's is pretty legendary down there. I'd bet the chef either worked there or frequented the place. Just a hunch. Secondly, the multiple TV's playing the Godfather or maybe Goodfella's, Soprano's etc... Whenever Freddo got shot in the canoe, the volume would go up, he'd fall in the water, the volume would go down. Steve, the owner/chef also DJ's loud, classic R&b from the line from his open kitchen.

    Lastly, the menu. Signature dishes of Steve Martarano going back around 15 yrs are as follows: Orcchiette w/sweet and hot Italian Sausage, escarole and beans and the even more signature dish of rigatoni in "Sunday" pork gravy with enormous chunks of tender pork with, as Sula puts it "an ice cream scoop of ricotta". These are item for item and thought for thought exactly off of Cafe Martarano's menu and restaurant.

    Not that he's got a patent on all of the above. After all, imitation is a type of flattery. There's a great quote on the bottom of Steve's menu just under the "Raw or undercooked food product..." and "No substitutions". "Don't break balls". Not that I'm trying to break em, but just thought it should be pointed out.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #4 - March 6th, 2009, 3:14 pm
    Post #4 - March 6th, 2009, 3:14 pm Post #4 - March 6th, 2009, 3:14 pm
    Has anybody eaten at this restaurant on Madison in Chicago? Thoughts?
  • Post #5 - March 16th, 2018, 6:46 am
    Post #5 - March 16th, 2018, 6:46 am Post #5 - March 16th, 2018, 6:46 am
    Highland Park branch opening in April.
    581 Roger Williams Ave.
    Highland Park, IL 60035
    847-926-3441
    www.viaggiohighlandpark.com
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny

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