Saturday, January 4, 2014

J. Rocco

Location: 749 N Clark
Cost: About $40 per person

After a busy week at work, there were plans for Jenny and I to double date with Arif and KVG. Then I found out Kristin had to work and for the first time in a long while, I was not the third wheel. Anyways, we wanted something reasonably priced but on the nicer side of things in River North or Streeterville. I remembered reading something in Chicago Magazine about this newer Italian place around the corner from my apartment, which is how we ended up at J. Rocco.

Logistics
J. Rocco is a relatively new spot in River North that didn't get a ton of publicity upon opening. So, it wasn't a problem getting a last minute Friday night reservation. There's a good amount of street parking nearby although we all walked. The atmosphere is dark and somewhat romantic, but there were a few occasional rowdy groups tossed in there as well. Our service was quick and attentive. The cost is reasonable with most pastas in the upper teens and the mains a little more than $20 each. I think they had a big upstairs space for groups too if that's something you're looking for.

The Food
We started off by sharing the Minestrone and the Mussels Soup. The minestrone was thicker with plenty of beans. I thought the swiss chard pieces were too large to eat without making a mess. The mussels had this great broth, and it was a great, smaller, cheaper alternative to the typical large bowl of mussels you can get elsewhere.

The Mussels Soup

The Minestrone Soup

From there we got some apps including the Burrata with Mom's Gravy and the Lamb Meatballs. The cheese went well with the oily marinara. The bread was a bit burnt which added a nice extra level of flavor. The meatballs were complex and had a ton of garlic flavor. They do these meatball specials during the week that have got to be totally worth it.

The Burrata

The Lamb Meatballs

For the main course Jenny got the Fusilli, Arif got the Tagliatelle, and I went with the Half Chicken. All of the pastas were made in house. The fusilli had pulled chicken, pine nuts, spinach, and roasted pepper in a cream sauce. Pasta with chicken and cream sauce is basically Jenny's thing, and accordingly she loved it. The tagliatelle had this savory pork belly and veal chuck. Both pastas had a great chew and were well coated in their respective sauces. The chicken was really juicy in an appropriately thick lemon rosemary sauce. It came over a bed of potatoes that were severely underdone though.

The Half Chicken

 The Fusilli

The Tagliatelle

Overall
I was pretty impressed by J. Rocco. The meatballs, mussels, and pasta were my favorites. There were a few hiccups, but I'm pretty excited to have a good Italian option right down the road. I'm giving them 4 out of 5 Pearls.


J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar on Urbanspoon

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