An excellent meal at an Italian restaurant is one of the best dining experiences you can have. And who isn’t in the mood for Italian all the time? I know I am. There are TONS of great Italian restaurants in Illinois. We surveyed ten of the best across the whole state.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Enoteca Roma Ristorante
In Chicago, Enoteca Roma gives you a taste of Rome tucked away in Chicago. The dishes have that authentic, homemade vibe, as they were dishes the owners learned to cook in home cooks' kitchens back in Italy. Take advantage of a few more warm days and dine al fresco--it really might be one of the better places in the city to do so. Attentive staff makes the experience that much better.
2. Connected Restaurant
In Peoria, Connected Restaurant offers a beautiful dining area in addition to great Italian food. Be prepared to get excellent service from being seated to when you leave. You'll get complimentary homemade limoncello (delicious) and women will receive a complimentary rose at the end of the meal. Talk about being pampered.
Baraco is an Italian, fine-dining experience located in Champaign. You can expect neat, tailored dishes. Originally a wine bar serving limited fare, you now can get a full dining experience complete with superb pastas, risottos and entrees.
4. Boccardi's Italian Imports
In Springfield, Boccardi's has been providing Italian imports to the area for years. About a year ago, they added a dining space to the building and are serving up Old World-style Italian dishes. In the evening, head out to the patio for a romantic dining experience. But even if you are in a rush, head to the deli for a sandwich or pasta dish. This restaurant is already creating quite the buzz in Springfield, so go check it out for yourself.
5. Barolo Restaurant
In Joliet, Barolo brings together old and new, as they serve up authentic Italian alongside new American dishes. The atmosphere is European and romantic, but still expect a fine steak dinner. They also serve wild game and good seafood.
6. Lonzerotti's Italian Restaurant
Down in Jacksonville, Lonzerotti's has gotten high praise for decades as a staple in the community. People rave about the pasta dishes, but one thing they say is to die for: the salad dressing. Don't worry, you can buy some so you can use it at home! The building is pretty cool, too, as it is in an old train station.
Up in Cherry Valley, you are going to be blown away by the flavors packed into these authentic Italian dishes. Family style is definitely the way to go, with plenty of pasta and meats to go around. One of the marks of a great Italian restaurant is a good plate of simple spaghetti. And their spaghetti is good.
8. Sugo's Spaghetteria
"Solid" is the word that keeps coming out of locals' descriptions of this restaurant. You are not going to be disappointed with these classic, hearty Italian dishes. They are serving up all of your favorites--but upscale. Still, the dishes have that "mama's touch." You are going to go crazy over the lasagna and handcrafted Neopolitan pies. So head down to Edwardsville!
9. Enzo and Lucia Ristorante Italiano
In Long Grove, Enzo and Lucia Ristorante is the favorite Italian restaurant. They've been a staple in the community when tragedy struck a year ago and a fire took down the restaurant. They are open again, and are better than ever. You have to try the gnocchi, and you must save room for homemade cannoli. And you might want to skip the wine. Their strawberry daiquiris are legendary.
10. Piccolo Sogno
Located in Chicago, with two locations, Piccolo Sogno might be serving the best Italian food in Chicago. In operation since only 2008, business has taken off and it has become a go-to Italian restaurant in Chicago. The food is simple, composed of locally sourced ingredients, and artfully paired with fantastic wines. The aim of the restaurant is to give diners the same experience they would get dining in Italy. Many Chicagoans agree.
What is your favorite Italian restaurant to dine at? Let us know in the comments.