Chicago : Topo Gigio

My family took a long weekend vacay to Chicago recently and ate some delicious food. On Sunday we had tickets for the Second City Etc show "Not Working" (hilarious!) and decided to eat nearby before the show. I yelped a few restaurants in the Old Town area before we left but we really picked Topo Gigio because of the lovely patio. It was an excellent choice, the food was fantastic!

For our appetizer we shared some fried Calamari. The calamari were delicious, super crispy and not at all chewy. I ended up eating most of the tentacled pieces, they freaked everyone else out. I like them because they're the crispiest! My parents both ordered the house salad with balsamic vinaigrette. I didn't try it, but it looked lovely. It had endive and romaine lettuce with raisins and walnuts. Carly and I had soup instead of salad, the minestrone and tortellini in brodo, respectively. My tortellini were quite nice in a mild broth with lots of salty parmesan. Carly's minestrone was even better, full of all kinds of vegetables.

I ordered the Pollo Arrosto al Rosmarino, half a chicken roasted with rosemary, garlic and wine. The chicken was cooked beautifully, so tender with nicely crisped skin surrounded by potatoes and the garlicky braising liquid. It was a ton of food for $15!

My mom had the Eggplant Parmesan, which was also very good. The portion was humongous, so I wish they had cut it down a bit instead and served it with some veggies on the side. My dad chose one of the daily specials, black ravioli filled with crab. I'm assuming the pasta was squid ink by the color, but the waiter didn't specify and we forgot to ask. The pasta was covered in a yummy, creamy tomato vodka sauce.

Everything we ordered was good, but I think the best meal of the night was my Carly's entree, Spaghetti ai Frutti di Mare. Al dente spaghetti tossed with a generous helping of seafood and a light marinara sauce. The seafood included clams, delightfully plum mussels, tons of calamari, and four giant, perfectly cooked scallops. Carly was worried that the marinara would overpower the seafood, but it turned out to be a perfect complement, garlicky and not too thick or chunky. The leftovers were almost better than the original, I devoured them for lunch the next day!

Unfortunately we had to eat and run, so we didn't have time for dessert. The outside patio was a great place to eat, though pick your table strategically, my mom got a face full of sun for the last half of our meal. We ate very early, around 4:30 so there were plenty of open tables. But by the time we left, 6ish, the place was definitely filling up. There aren't really any great Italian restaurants in Bloomington, so I love finding good Italian food when I'm travelling. Everything we ordered at Topo Gigio was tasty, the wait staff was quick and friendly, prices were pretty average, and the atmosphere was lovely. I can't wait to go back!

Topo Gigio Ristorante
1516 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60610-1308
(312) 266-9355
Website + Menu


  1. I came across your blog from Photograzing, and I just wanted to say that I looooove Topo Gigio! It's right by my office. You missed the best thing on the menu though -- the shells with sausage and peas in tomato cream sauce. It was just on Check Please! this week, and they agreed.

    Your photos are incredible! What kind of camera do you use?

  2. Thanks Haley, I use a Nikon d60, usually with a 35mm or 50mm 1.8 lens.

    I actually saw someone with the sausage/pea pasta as I was leaving, and it definitely looked delicious! Maybe next time :)

  3. Next trip to Chicago: Topo Gigio!! Thanks for the tip.


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