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New pasta shop & cafe, in Roscoe Village [TerraGusto]

New pasta shop & cafe, in Roscoe Village [TerraGusto]
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  • New pasta shop & cafe, in Roscoe Village [TerraGusto]

    Post #1 - February 17th, 2006, 12:18 am
    Post #1 - February 17th, 2006, 12:18 am Post #1 - February 17th, 2006, 12:18 am
    Newly opened TerraGusto is owned and operated by Theo Gilbert, a fixture at the Wednesday Green City Market where he sells his handmade pastas. The concept couldn't be simpler-- have a storefront selling his artisanal pastas, other products from Green City Market vendors, and where one can also sit down for a simple cafe-style lunch or dinner with local, fresh-made everything (as much as possible).

    I've been three times and with the exception of a few, minor, new-opening glitches, the prepared food has been very, very good. The menu reflects the simplicity-- 5 or 6 antipasti and 5 or 6 hand-made pastas with paired sauce.

    Outstanding apps were a smoked wild salmon mousse on crostini, and Bagna Cauda, a paste of cooked garlic, anchovies, butter, and olive oil, which is then stuffed into a roasted red pepper. A special one night was Conchiglie con passato di ceci, seared scallops sitting on a pureed bed of chick peas, tomato, and rosemary. The sauce was so good it deserved its own pasta. The sauce was so good, the scallops were a distraction.

    Pastas were almost uniformly great. Tagliatelle alla bolognese was classically rich and creamy with a thick ribbon noodle in a 4-meat, milk, and tomato sauce. There are also ricotta-stuffed ravioli in a light broth with wilted spinach. Theo says he makes his own ricotta daily. I also loved the Maltagliate ai funghi di bosco, "badly cut" pasta rags in a mushroom ragù. My favorite are probably the squash & pumpkin filled ravioli in a browned butter and sage sauce, finished with crumbled amaretti.

    Least favorite was probably the swiss chard pasta somewhat alla primavera, tossed with fresh and roasted vegetables. Maybe in the summer I'll come back around to it.

    The best deal on the menu might be the offerings for "a little something more." For $12, you can add either a ½ lb. chicken, a ½ lb. skirt steak, a wild catch of the day, or a 10 oz. pork chop-- either as a side or tossed with an appropriate pasta.

    I think his plans are to be open all day long, from 7 am until 10 pm. It could be a nice place to get a good cappuccino and pastry in the morning.

    BYOB all the time, with no corkage fee. I didn't ask about making your own irish latte in the morning. No cell phones. Nice, comfortable, low-key neighborhood place.

    TerraGusto
    1851 W. Addison, at Wolcott
    773.248.2777
    Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (I'm not sure about these closed days.)

    Alfonso
  • Post #2 - February 17th, 2006, 3:56 am
    Post #2 - February 17th, 2006, 3:56 am Post #2 - February 17th, 2006, 3:56 am
    Alfonso XIV wrote: A special one night was Conchiglie con passato di ceci, seared scallops sitting on a pureed bed of chick peas, tomato, and rosemary. The sauce was so good it deserved its own pasta. The sauce was so good, the scallops were a distraction.


    Sounds fabulous. I don't think I've ever had a ceci/scallop combo. Great to hear from you again,

    Hammond

    PS. I haven't forgotten that I still have your TZone book (and I'm sure you haven't either :) ).
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #3 - February 17th, 2006, 7:52 am
    Post #3 - February 17th, 2006, 7:52 am Post #3 - February 17th, 2006, 7:52 am
    So THAT'S what that is now.

    After being La Bodega, signage went up saying it was "Eno." (Hopefully playing ambient music on the stereo.) Eno, however, turned out to be one of those places that was handsomely designed and appointed but found it too difficult to ever actually be open, announcing after a week that it was only open on weekends, after a couple of weeks that it was on vacation, and after just a few weeks of this theoretical but not actual operation, ceasing to be even theoretical.

    Then there was a lot of activity inside, but with the doors shut; I wondered if it was simply being used for a photo shoot, or for some sort of corporate hospitality event. In any case, it gave few signs of being open to the public, whatever was going on inside. As someone in the neighborhood who ought to be a customer, but has grown a bit wary of this nice-looking but customer resistant location, I hope TerraGusto can find its way toward actually putting its name on its door, investing in an "Open" sign, and maybe even-- call me crazy!-- distributing menus in the area. (I believe a Chinese restaurant did this once.)

    It sounds promising, anyway....
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  • Post #4 - February 17th, 2006, 11:38 am
    Post #4 - February 17th, 2006, 11:38 am Post #4 - February 17th, 2006, 11:38 am
    Thanks for the review! I just drove by this morning. I'll definitely have to check it out.
  • Post #5 - February 17th, 2006, 11:44 am
    Post #5 - February 17th, 2006, 11:44 am Post #5 - February 17th, 2006, 11:44 am
    Sounds terrific. Can't wait to try, and it's relatively near our pre-school, upping the odds in our favor a bit.

    A question for anyone: I had thought that a "bagna cauda" pretty much had to be what it literally translates as, a "hot bath" of seasoned oil into which you dip things. Does it make any sense, or have any foundation in practice, to give this appellation to a paste which is then stuffed inside something else? (I mean, I'm sure it's delicious. I'm just curious about the name.)
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #6 - February 17th, 2006, 11:49 am
    Post #6 - February 17th, 2006, 11:49 am Post #6 - February 17th, 2006, 11:49 am
    mrbarolo wrote:A question for anyone: I had thought that a "bagna cauda" pretty much had to be what it literally translates as, a "hot bath" of seasoned oil into which you dip things. Does it make any sense, or have any foundation in practice, to give this appellation to a paste which is then stuffed inside something else? (I mean, I'm sure it's delicious. I'm just curious about the name.)


    I interpreted this to be poetic license. The "hot bath" would the pepper into which the paste is stuffed. Just my take and, frankly, if my interpretation is accurate, it's kind of a dumb name.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #7 - February 17th, 2006, 12:59 pm
    Post #7 - February 17th, 2006, 12:59 pm Post #7 - February 17th, 2006, 12:59 pm
    Darn it, I've been scooped.

    Yep, it's open. I was just over there and am sipping a very well prepared latte that cost a dollar, yes one dollar.

    Theo is wonderful and I would concur with Joel's assessment of the food having been in there on Sunday. We unfortunately had to do a carry out as one my family members was sick. Mike and I will be back on Saturday so I will be able to give a full report.

    Thor's going to love it as he's using the Trader's Point yogurt for some of the brunch dishes.

    And the gossip that I learned about Eno was that the group which acquired it never really wanted it, instead, wanting the Lincoln Square sister location, formerly Toucan. I was at Eno for brunch once, it was pretty good - but this is going to be far far better.
    MAG
    www.monogrammeevents.com

    "I've never met a pork product I didn't like."
  • Post #8 - February 17th, 2006, 2:21 pm
    Post #8 - February 17th, 2006, 2:21 pm Post #8 - February 17th, 2006, 2:21 pm
    In the words of either the toilet paper or beer ad copywriter, "You're both right!" Theo seems to have made the sauce correctly, but then used culinary license with the delivery-to-mouth mechanism

    Not being a linguistic historian, I could only resort to asking the great and wise all-knowing deity, G--gle. (In Judaism of course it is prohibited from writing out in full the name of the one Supreme Being.)

    So from
    http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/recipe_bagnacauda.htm

    Bagna Cauda
    "This is a wonderful dish from the Piedmonte region of Italy. The name comes from bagno caldo which means "hot bath". It is made by combining butter, olive oil, garlic and anchovies. The mixture is heated and guests use wooden skewers or fondue forks to spear a variety of fresh vegetables which are dipped and warmed."

    From
    http://www.italianmade.com/recipes/recipe75.cfm

    "Bagna Cauda, literally translated from Piedmontese dialect, means "warm sauce". The ingredients suggest it is a country recipe, because all the ingredients are garden grown. Even the oil was probably produced on the farm. The exception is anchovies, which were widely used as a substitute for salt.

    Sauté the crushed garlic and chopped anchovy fillets in the oil. Stir constantly until the anchovies disintegrate. Add butter and mix. Add pepper to taste. This sauce is served in a pot, for everyone to dip the vegetables in, or in individual terracotta bowls. The garlic's flavor becomes somewhat milder if you leave the cloves to soak in milk for a few hours or add a small amount of cream at the last minute. Bagna cauda must be placed on warmers, as it must simmer constantly. It is usually served with cardoons, fennel, peppers, celery and carrots, much like Pinzimonio
    "

    In addition, I think MAG will attest that this place is going to be very kid friendly.

    Alfonso
  • Post #9 - March 19th, 2006, 8:03 am
    Post #9 - March 19th, 2006, 8:03 am Post #9 - March 19th, 2006, 8:03 am
    My fiance & I tried Terragusto last night for the first time and were flabbergasted at the quality of the food. We each had a pasta dish and also ordered one of the "shared" entrees (scallops). We agreed that it was one of the best meals that we've had in a while. The place seemed to clear out after eight or so. Maybe everybody's over at Spacca Napoli?
  • Post #10 - March 20th, 2006, 10:43 am
    Post #10 - March 20th, 2006, 10:43 am Post #10 - March 20th, 2006, 10:43 am
    i've been in twice, and both times everything was great. Grass-fed cows milk (and chocolate) and free range organic, local eggs are available to take home. In fact, i think i have two of those little brown and blue, randomly sized oblongs of ambrosia in my fridge right now, and a chunk of crusty bread on the counter...so why am i here??

    Erik.
  • Post #11 - March 21st, 2006, 8:50 pm
    Post #11 - March 21st, 2006, 8:50 pm Post #11 - March 21st, 2006, 8:50 pm
    Ooh, thanks for the review on this. I have a couple friends that live within a couple blocks of this place. I've been there when it was Eno, for brunch, which was fantastic, and I enjoyed the atmosphere.... so, looking forward to checking out this new place!

    BYO is always good, too ... cheap ....
  • Post #12 - March 21st, 2006, 9:32 pm
    Post #12 - March 21st, 2006, 9:32 pm Post #12 - March 21st, 2006, 9:32 pm
    I've been twice - once for dinner (excellent) once for Saturday lunch (mediocre). The pastas at dinner time were great as were the antipasti. But at lunch on the weekends they serve only eggs, crepes and breakfast dishes: no pasta, no sandwiches no nothing. It's like a whole different restaurant with a menu I don't much like. So I'll be back for pastas, but the weekend lunch leaves a lot to be desired unless they add the pasta back in.
  • Post #13 - March 23rd, 2006, 8:11 pm
    Post #13 - March 23rd, 2006, 8:11 pm Post #13 - March 23rd, 2006, 8:11 pm
    Add me to the chorus of cheers for this place. Did a quick dinner on the way home from work tonight.

    The salad is so often overlooked in restaurants. Yet Terrogusto does it so well. Fresh salad greens, no clunky veggies, everything shaved with a mandolin to a beautiful thiness.

    The bolognese was just wonderful.
  • Post #14 - March 25th, 2006, 10:43 am
    Post #14 - March 25th, 2006, 10:43 am Post #14 - March 25th, 2006, 10:43 am
    We went in early last evening and loved it. We brought our own bottle of wine, had the zuppa de pesce (please forgive the sp), green salad (wonderful), spaghetti and I forget the other name but it was the wide noodles with asparagus and mushrooms - 5 stars. Bill was $50, which may be the best deal in town. Good bread, too.

    I live 1/2 mile away and I could go there every week.
    I'm not Angry, I'm hungry.
  • Post #15 - March 26th, 2006, 7:54 am
    Post #15 - March 26th, 2006, 7:54 am Post #15 - March 26th, 2006, 7:54 am
    LTH,

    We had an enjoyable meal last evening with Thor, TPA and MAG at Terragusto, good food, great service and relaxed atmosphere

    I quite liked baked polenta w/sausage and peppers, though I'm a polenta fan no matter the preparation.
    Image

    Mozzarella in a carriage is tasty, but the flavors a wee bit diffused. I hope they are not using the 'good' mozzarella (bufala imported from Italy) that's on the vegetable antipasti as the flavor was somewhat lost in the midst of the thyme-scented bagna cauda sauce.
    Image

    Spaghetti con pomodorini e oregano fresco, thick spaghetti with grape tomatoes, garlic and fresh oregano was flat out wonderful, as were the puttanesca and stracci. One minor quibble/suggestion, go easy on the cheese, all pasta dishes came with a healthy topknot of freshly grated cheese that started to give the dishes a mild uniformity of taste.

    Alla puttanesca
    Image

    Child friendly, the chef even whipped up an on-request plate of scrambled eggs for Thor, who had an enjoyable time, and BYOB.
    Image

    We'll definitely be back, though I get the feeling, overall, I'm ever so slightly less keen on Terragusto than some.

    For dessert we went back to Thor's house as the ever talented MAG had made an amazingly delicious black truffle rice pudding.
    Image
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #16 - March 27th, 2006, 11:04 am
    Post #16 - March 27th, 2006, 11:04 am Post #16 - March 27th, 2006, 11:04 am
    Seth Zurer wrote:I've been twice - once for dinner (excellent) once for Saturday lunch (mediocre). The pastas at dinner time were great as were the antipasti. But at lunch on the weekends they serve only eggs, crepes and breakfast dishes: no pasta, no sandwiches no nothing. It's like a whole different restaurant with a menu I don't much like. So I'll be back for pastas, but the weekend lunch leaves a lot to be desired unless they add the pasta back in.


    I cannot say anything about dinner, but I can vouch for the above re: weekend lunch.

    Being into local and all, I've been anxious to try this place. I was especially keen on trying it after reading somewhere about its great local eggs. So, I dragged the wife and one kid there on Saturday, enduring about a 1/2 hour's worth of "are we there yet" and "I'm sooooooooooo hungry". For this?

    The week before we had a meal at about the same time of day at a place called Sugar Creek Inn, near Elkhorn Wisconsin, oh the contrast in eggs, sausage and potatoes. Terragusto had the pedigree, but it was not even close in flavor, although it is a bit closer than Elkhorn in drive.

    After I got my toast the other day, I asked about jelly. My waiter asked me about flavors, and I was psyched until two small jars of commercial jelly arrived. He said they soon it would be different. Yet, as the cliche goes, you never have a second chance to make a first impression. I have to say, that sunny-side eggs cooked too long, with hardly any flavor, fatty and contrastingly undercooked sausages from Paulina Market and just plain mediocre potatoes leave me hardly wanting to give this place a second chance. Of course, what my wife and daughter shared, a (very) small frittata and over-egged crepes were even worse.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #17 - March 30th, 2006, 9:22 am
    Post #17 - March 30th, 2006, 9:22 am Post #17 - March 30th, 2006, 9:22 am
    Store-bought jams are a bit of a disappointment. The meat entrees are fine, if not spectacular. Overcooked eggs, well, no one wants that.

    But who cares about all that??? This place is all about pasta, pasta, pasta, and imo executes it better than any place in the same price range. The sauces are wonderful, but the real highlight are the noodles themselves, which taste of fresh, quality ingredients and are cooked perfectly al dente every time. The noodles here are like the crust at Spacca Napoli - sauces, toppings, etc., while very good, are almost unnecessary because the base is that outstanding.
  • Post #18 - March 30th, 2006, 9:47 am
    Post #18 - March 30th, 2006, 9:47 am Post #18 - March 30th, 2006, 9:47 am
    That's disappointing about brunch. Frankly I am a little suspicious about brunch from places that only do it a couple of times a week and are mainly dinner places. There are some good ones, I suppose, Brett's for one nearby, but there seems to be something about the get-it-out-quick-and-tasty mentality of successful breakfast/brunch preparation that dinner places often don't get. Roscoe Village is weekend breakfast row, they need to fix that up.

    I have now been twice. The first time was for dinner and I had a good meal overall but ordered somewhat poorly-- I had the French toast-like thing G Wiv describes with mozzarella in the middle, which was tasty, unctuously rich, and something I need to have only once. Then I had the gnocchi Roman style or something like, which were baked in a little pan, fluffy and insubstantial, a little went a long way, by that point I had had two courses which were of the savory/fillingness level of cotton candy. I ordered some skirt steak just to get some real food, dammit, and it was fine.

    I went back yesterday intending to have lunch there, as the sandwiches (panini) are the one major thing no one has reported on yet. (Incidentally, a woman was making pasta at the station in the window as I came in. Cool.) But then I was thrown by the fact that they don't offer sandwiches-- they offer lists of ingredients for you to assemble a sandwich out of. I always feel I'm going to put the wrong thing together, and really really REALLY wish they'd offer a list of sandwiches, ingredients well selected to complement each other. But okay, I braved it, I picked out the roast pork and some things that seemed like they'd go with it, the waitress comes and... we're out of the roast pork today.

    I quickly decided screw it and ordered the tagliatelle with bolognese, which is what I should have had the other night, and salad as my side. The salad, as described way above, is simple and wonderful, full of real vegetables shaved thin. The pasta-- I want to start babbling like a comic Italian impresario in a 30s movie. Divino! Superlativissimo! Spectaculatore! Signora e signore, believe Bandini when he say, she is good! Everything came together, meaty and cheesy and creamy and tomatoey, heck of a lunch for $12.

    So. Pasta. That's what you want to have there.

    Image
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  • Post #19 - March 30th, 2006, 9:54 am
    Post #19 - March 30th, 2006, 9:54 am Post #19 - March 30th, 2006, 9:54 am
    Mike G wrote:Then I had the gnocchi Roman style or something like, which were baked in a little pan, fluffy and insubstantial, a little went a long way, by that point I had had two courses which were of the savory/fillingness level of cotton candy. I ordered some skirt steak just to get some real food, dammit, and it was fine.


    Gnocchi alla Romana are made from semolina, a/k/a cream of wheat. Is that what you had? I've been wanting to try, being a big cream of wheat fan, so (perhaps) I'll give this place another shot. :)
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #20 - March 30th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Post #20 - March 30th, 2006, 10:18 am Post #20 - March 30th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Vital Information wrote:Gnocchi alla Romana are made from semolina, a/k/a cream of wheat. Is that what you had? I've been wanting to try, being a big cream of wheat fan, so (perhaps) I'll give this place another shot. :)


    Rob,

    As you say, gnocchi alla romana are made with semolina but to my mind, semolina in the context of the aforementioned dish and "cream of wheat" are not the same thing. Semolina for fresh pasta and gnocchi is from durum wheat. You can make porridge out of that too but I'm pretty sure American "cream of wheat" is not made from the same hard wheat used in these Southern Italian preparations. I note in passing also that the colour is certainly different.

    I too like cream of wheat a lot; when I was a kid we ate it as one would eat cornmeal polenta, i.e., as a savoury dish with a sauce or cheese. Very 'old school', as they say.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #21 - March 30th, 2006, 10:31 am
    Post #21 - March 30th, 2006, 10:31 am Post #21 - March 30th, 2006, 10:31 am
    Antonius wrote:
    Vital Information wrote:Gnocchi alla Romana are made from semolina, a/k/a cream of wheat. Is that what you had? I've been wanting to try, being a big cream of wheat fan, so (perhaps) I'll give this place another shot. :)


    Rob,

    As you say, gnocchi alla romana are made with semolina but to my mind, semolina in the context of the aforementioned dish and "cream of wheat" are not the same thing. Semolina for fresh pasta and gnocchi is from durum wheat. You can make porridge out of that too but I'm pretty sure American "cream of wheat" is not made from the same hard wheat used in these Southern Italian preparations. I note in passing also that the colour is certainly different.

    I too like cream of wheat a lot; when I was a kid we ate it as one would eat cornmeal polenta, i.e., as a savoury dish with a sauce or cheese. Very 'old school', as they say.

    Antonius


    I've never had gnocchi alla romana, so I have no idea what it IS like. The recipes/pictures/TV shows I have seen, make it seem like cream of wheat (or farina). Here's a web recipe that sez the same thing:

    http://www.whats4eats.com/recipes/r_st_ ... omana.html

    Bottom line, it's a dish I'm very keen to try.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #22 - March 30th, 2006, 10:54 am
    Post #22 - March 30th, 2006, 10:54 am Post #22 - March 30th, 2006, 10:54 am
    Vital Information wrote:I've never had gnocchi alla romana, so I have no idea what it IS like. The recipes/pictures/TV shows I have seen, make it seem like cream of wheat (or farina). Here's a web recipe that sez the same thing:

    http://www.whats4eats.com/recipes/r_st_ ... omana.html

    Bottom line, it's a dish I'm very keen to try.


    I don't think that's a good suggested substitute, especially since high quality semolina from durum wheat is readily available these days. From websurfing, I gather that American 'cream of wheat' is indeed not made with the relatively expensive durum wheat.

    Anyway, gnocchi alla romana is a very nice, simple dish.

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #23 - March 30th, 2006, 10:57 am
    Post #23 - March 30th, 2006, 10:57 am Post #23 - March 30th, 2006, 10:57 am
    All I know is, they called it "gnocchi Roman style." I'd have it as a shared dish with multiple people to eat it, because while good, four bites was plenty.

    Image
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  • Post #24 - March 30th, 2006, 11:22 am
    Post #24 - March 30th, 2006, 11:22 am Post #24 - March 30th, 2006, 11:22 am
    I really do appreciate everyone's attempts to sample and then report on things like brunch, gnocchi, skirt steak, sandwiches and desserts. And I'm sure the restaurant wouldn't appreciate me saying this - but I hope everyone reads these reports merely for posterity, and then heads right for the pasta when they get to the restaurant. Based on my four meals there, I'd say ignore all but the absolotely wonderful pasta (except, perhaps, the delicious baked polenta)
  • Post #25 - March 30th, 2006, 11:36 am
    Post #25 - March 30th, 2006, 11:36 am Post #25 - March 30th, 2006, 11:36 am
    I definitely agree with Kennyz - but remember, weekend lunch DOES NOT include pasta. Only the Lula-lite brunch mediocrity.
  • Post #26 - April 2nd, 2006, 4:18 pm
    Post #26 - April 2nd, 2006, 4:18 pm Post #26 - April 2nd, 2006, 4:18 pm
    My wife and I shared a very good dinner with our 10 year old daughter at terragusto Friday evening. We really enjoyed the food, especially the excellent pastas. However, it does seem a tad confused on it’s focus. It bills itself as an Italian café and market and the atmosphere is appropriate. But, dinner service seems to aspire to a higher level. I really want it to succeed since it is BYO and organic and sustainable ingredient friendly.

    The ingredient costs must be high and it’s not a large room, but the ordering instructions were a little strong. Our waiter started out explaining that the portions were small and meant to encourage a four course dinner and eating family style. I know they need to have decent tabs or they will be out of business, but I usually am not informed upfront about the plan. The menu needs some expansion if four courses per diner and passing family style is the goal. There is one salad and one soup and three of the four appetizers were bread based which makes it hard to get a variety for sharing.

    We started with the excellent mixed green and shaved vegetable salad mentioned above. The baked polenta over sautéed spinach and pinenuts with a gorgonzola sage cream sauce was excellent. We also had the mozzarella in a carriage which Gary mentioned. Very good, but this needs to be a shared app because as Mike mentioned, it is rich and a little goes a long way.

    The highlight was as others pointed out, the pastas. The star of the evening was the stracchi (rough cut or ‘rags’) with lamb and black olives braised in red wine. Fabulous. It reminded me of the fantastic pastas in Italy. Man, was it good. I may start to daydream about this dish. Nancy had the al forno special which was a thin crepe-like pasta rolled around a mixture of four cheeses. Our daughter had the delicious butternut squash ravioli with a sage brown butter. These two dished also needed to be shared because of the richness. Did I mention the wonderful lamb stracchi?

    Now there is the problem with the entrée portion of the four course dinner. The five choices were a half of chicken, pork chops, skirt steak, halibut, and rack of lamb which the waiter called lamb ribs. All of these were simply rubbed with sea salt and roasted. If you cook much at home, these choices don’t scream out that I have to have it. I was interested in the lamb until I heard seven ribs over a few diced potatoes was $47! No side vegetables, no sauce. That has to be up there with THE most expensive entrees in town. This is not an elaborate room with expensive serving ware, linens, art work, etc. We passed on the entrees, but we wouldn’t have if the entrees had the same level of creativity as the appetizers and pastas.

    We were stuffed and the three dessert options weren’t tempting enough to gorge. We even passed on coffee, which we rarely do after a dinner out.

    One last comment on the room. I am rarely bothered by a noisy room, but the space NEEDS some fabrics and sound absorbing materials. There was some background music, but I don’t have a clue what was playing. You couldn’t hear across the table.

    I think the menu and room needs some work if they want to be serious about dinner. And while it was reasonable, it wasn’t really cheap. Our tab was $82 for 1 small side salad, two appetizers, and three pastas. Only one dish had a little meat. No seafood, liquor, dessert, or coffee. If we would have ordered entrees (especially the lamb), dessert, and coffee, the tab would have put it in a price point where the place can’t compete. Although, I would go back for the pastas anytime.

    Best,
    Al

    terragusto
    1851 W. Addison
    Chicago, IL 60613
    773.248.2777
  • Post #27 - April 2nd, 2006, 4:58 pm
    Post #27 - April 2nd, 2006, 4:58 pm Post #27 - April 2nd, 2006, 4:58 pm
    I TerraGusto'd last night and had a generally good vibe, however I agree with Al - the menu needs some work.

    We arrived at 8 and the manager made a large show of seating our party of two when there was clearly a two-top open right in front of us. No, we did not have a reservation. Yes, we were prepared to wait. But when we approached him about a table, there was an elaborate 3-4 minute span when he pointed and mutterd to himself while poring over the reservation chart, punctuated by two separate trips to investigate the coffee machine behind the counter and another prolonged survey of the 20 odd diners currently in progress before he snapped up two menus without looking at us and said something like "we'll make it work." I appreciated the attempt to seat us quickly, but it was accomplished with an odd "you got away with one" flourish that I did not expect from a new, small place like this just starting out.

    The polenta really was excellent, but the spinach accompanying this dish and the salad were pretty much the only vegetation on the menu. The vegetables were clearly wallflowers at a party of pasta. The mussel pasta was a light and fulfilling hit. The potato filled ravioli with lamb ragout (a replacement for the squash-filled special they had run out of) was surely a miss. As if the menu needed more starch without flavor contrast.

    While the Halibut looked good, we shied away from anything but the pastas following the lead(ers) in this thread. As for the pricepoint, the two roughly 8-10 oz Halibut fillets shingled, with no accompaniments seemed a bit steeply priced at $24.

    Earlier, I had been eying the salad across the room becuase it really looked quite nice. If none of the desserts had sounded appetizing, I was going to order European style have a salad to end the meal. Given the utter tastelessness of the Panna Cotta, I should have gone that route. Simply bland as all get out. I kept putting moutful after mouthful of 'tastes-like'nothing' into my mouth. Lord only knows why.

    All in all, two items were very good. I didn't mind the service one bit and I appreciated our server's enthusiasm and attentiveness. He asked how we had heard about the place and I dropped the LTH hint. He sounded interested and said he would check it out. I do think the room was quite loud.

    I can see the pasta potential here and want to like this place. I definitely think the menu cries out for more vegetables and perhaps some more interesting meat dishes. Here's hoping they work out the kinks.
  • Post #28 - April 2nd, 2006, 5:07 pm
    Post #28 - April 2nd, 2006, 5:07 pm Post #28 - April 2nd, 2006, 5:07 pm
    Yes, I tried to go in with the kids at about 5:30 on Friday and all you bastards who read the Internet had already booked up their tables and I was told there was no room to be had (even though at that point the place was empty except for one table). The fact that I had been there twice within the past week didn't cut any ice. So much for my neighborhood having a little neighborhood place....
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  • Post #29 - April 2nd, 2006, 6:41 pm
    Post #29 - April 2nd, 2006, 6:41 pm Post #29 - April 2nd, 2006, 6:41 pm
    FWIW, Mike. I got the only table available at 6:30 on a Wednesday Night when I was there. The place was packed and many were waiting. looks like reservations will be the norm there.
  • Post #30 - April 2nd, 2006, 8:34 pm
    Post #30 - April 2nd, 2006, 8:34 pm Post #30 - April 2nd, 2006, 8:34 pm
    gastro gnome wrote:We arrived at 8 and the manager made a large show of seating our party of two when there was clearly a two-top open right in front of us. No, we did not have a reservation. Yes, we were prepared to wait. But when we approached him about a table, there was an elaborate 3-4 minute span when he pointed and mutterd to himself while poring over the reservation chart, punctuated by two separate trips to investigate the coffee machine behind the counter and another prolonged survey of the 20 odd diners currently in progress before he snapped up two menus without looking at us and said something like "we'll make it work." I appreciated the attempt to seat us quickly, but it was accomplished with an odd "you got away with one" flourish that I did not expect from a new, small place like this just starting out.


    Funny, but I had a similar situation Friday evening. I had planned on going to Think Cafe, but we changed our minds. I called terragusto at 6:15 to see if they had any openings. The girl who answered hemmed and hawwed then put me on hold. A guy picked up and after a little more posturing said yes, we could be accomodated. When I said we could be there at 6:30, he replied not to come until 6:45 which I thought was odd. We got there at 6:30 and sure enough the table was open.

    It doesn't seem like the place to be playing that type of trendy spot du jour b.s. I would think they are trying to be a friendly, neighborhood establishment based on their Slow Food support.

    Al

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