Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mia Francesca

Location: 3311 N. Clark
Cost: $20 per person

In the library on campus there's a small room on the second floor dedicated to non-medical texts called Dollie's Corner. It's a little less intense than the consecutive cubicle setup that so many people utilize throughout the other library rooms. Well for the past four weeks or so, Dollie's corner has been my second home. One other kid from my class, Mark Sparrow, sits at the only other table in Dollie's. We pitch questions off each other when they come up, and when we talk during the occasional break, restaurants are often a topic. Mark loves this Italian place in Lakeview called Mia Francesca, so I got to hear plenty about it. My parents wanted to get together with our friends the Joseph's, and when someone suggested Italian, Mia Francesca was fresh in my mind.

Mia Francesca is a pretty interesting setup. They've got a super cramped, super busy main dining room. There's more seating upstairs and in a tiny building behind the restaurant, but those spots were used for private parties. They have a pretty nice back patio, but the weather was crappy that night. They take reservations, and on a weekend you'll definitely need one. The host told me over the phone that they'd squeeze us in, and he wasn't kidding. Our table was right by the door, and guests, waiters, and bus boys were literally climbing over our chair backs all night.

The service, besides the problems from being cluttered, was fantastic. Our waiter picked up that we wanted to talk a bit and let us take our time. The menu's not really that big which came in handy by finally forcing some decisions out of us. The cost is spot on with most other Italian places around. Salads were around $7, pasta dishes were in the $14 area, and the other entrees were around $20. Portions were large but not excessive.

The Food
We decided to start things off by splitting three different salads for the table: the Caprese, the House Salad, and some Citrus Radish Special Salad. The house salad had avocados, tomatoes, and hearts of palm (a Barb and Lisa Pearl favorite). The special salad was really refreshing with the oranges balanced by the bite of the radishes.

The House Salad with Hearts of Palm

The Caprese Salad

 The Citrus Radish Salad

For the main course my Mom and Robin got the Grilled Salmon, my Dad and Brad got the Shells with Chicken in cream sauce and marinara respectively, Marc got the Rigatoni with Mozzarella, and I got the Roasted Whitefish. My Mom's salmon was flaky inside with a nice exterior crisp from the grill. Both her fish dish and mine came with an abundance of roasted vegetables. It didn't lead to a pretty looking dish, but it added quite a bit of value. All of the pasta dishes were a little al dente and well dressed. The substance of the pasta itself was the key to these dishes. I really liked my whitefish which was excessively buttery and well seasoned.

The Shells with Chicken and Marinara Sauce

The Shells with Chicken and Cream Sauce

 The Grilled Salmon

The Rigatoni with Mozzarella

 The Whitefish (it's under there somewhere)

From the food aspect Mia Francesca was great. Dishes were simple, tasty, and reasonably priced. I didn't appreciate how crowded it was, but I've been told from many people that during the week it's much calmer. I'm giving Mia Francesca 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Mia Francesca on Urbanspoon


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