Friday, July 5, 2013

Siena Tavern

Location: 51 W Kinzie
Cost: Probably about $50 per person

I'm not usually the guy that goes to trendy new spots or anything. My niche is clearly the hot dog stand, pizza joint, and ethnic hole in the wall. That being said, I've moved to River North, and one side of the scale is much heavier than the other in these parts. The other day, I received a friendly invite to check out some of the menu items over at Siena Tavern and couldn't resist. My friends Matt and Young came along for the meal too.

Siena Tavern is known largely from the fame of Top Chef's most loveable non-winner, Fabio Viviani. Amongst my crew, it's also popularized as the employer of Deerfield's most loveable fitted hat and shoe collector, Jared Stabiner, but I digress. We had a reservation, and I'd suggest making one although it might take a bit. They take walk-in's in the bar area too.

The service was thorough and coordinated. With all of the small plates, our table never became too cluttered, and our waitress (despite being a vegetarian) really knew the menu up and down. Our meal was comped, but each small plate is probably around $15 on average. They suggested getting 2 plates per person, and if you throw drinks in on that, you'll probably end up spending around $50 per person. They have entrees too which are a little more expensive, but I'd suggest sharing.

The Food
We stuck to our waitresses recommendations starting off with the Kobe Meatball and the Grilled Octopus. The meatball came in one huge 12oz portion. The rich tomato sauce and juicy ball came with some polenta toast too. The octopus was prepared perfectly and served over this bed of duck fat fried potatoes.

The Grilled Octopus

The Kobe Meatball

From there we got the Kale Caesar Salad and the Burrata. The kale was firm and held the light dressing well. The burrata was extra creamy and served over this eggplant caponata.

The Burrata

The Kale Caesar Salad

Then came the pastas. The menu was intriguing, but we finally settled on the Gnocchi and the Squid Ink Linguini. The gnocchi had a very soft texture and came with pancetta and a cream sauce. The Linguini had these large chunks of lobster throughout with a spicy cream sauce. This was probably our favorite dish of the night even though Young hogged all the lobster.

The Squid Ink Linguini

The Gnocchi

Since we had a bit more room, we ordered the Pear and Prosciutto Pizza. The crust was firm, flaky, and chewy. The pear provided a sweet balance to the savory prosciutto. With all of the cream and tomato sauce in the previous dishes, this was a welcome dish to play on our sweet buds.

The Prosciutto and Pear Pizza

For dessert we got the Bomboloni, a bag of fried, sugary doughnuts accompanied by a whiskey caramel, chocolate hazelnut, and vanilla cream sauce. In a pretty fun setup, you take these squeeze bottles and fill your doughnut with your sauce of choice. My nod goes to the vanilla cream sauce.

The Bomboloni

With RPM and Quartino just down the road, there's no shortage of Italian small plate options near Siena Tavern, and yet they stand out with strong flavors and creativity. You could go all out with a big party or have a very reasonable date night depending on how your order. Either way, I don't think you'll be disappointed and should check it out.

Siena Tavern on Urbanspoon


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