Eat Right Around Chicago

Chicago Italian Restaurant Tocco Pizza e Arte

Tocco Pizza Bruno.jpg

Bruno Abata, proud owner of Tocco.

Italian food and service done well so you can eat right at the Chicago restaurant, Tocco Pizza e Arte!  I was seeking perfectly stewed tomatoes with fresh pasta so after checking on Metromix Chicago, I made my OpenTable reservation.  
Typically, I'd start with the food and focus on eating right, but for this establishment, sister to Follia cibo e moda, I want to talk about the atmosphere and the people first.  Walking into the door (which is on the side, so I was already a little confused) of this slate grey building with dark windows, I questioned how inviting it would be.  Don't judge the warmth by its [building] color.

As soon as we walked in, the host greeted us and the owner, Bruno Abate (not that I knew he was the owner) danced his way to us with menus in hand.  He was delighted to see us (not that he know who we were) and genuinely pleased that we chose his restaurant.  We shopped for tables...he was concerned that we would be too close to a party of 35 that was expected within the hour...and settled on a comfortable spot in the back. I hope I'm not making anyone want to puke here, but I really appreciate good service and love to be around people visibly enjoying what they do! 

Tocco has an interesting interior that doesn't actually match the warm and welcoming staff.  It doesn't detract from it, it's just unexpected; skillfully decorated, but didn't say, "welcome to my family's restaurant!"  Which is why it may be perfect.  It is the sort of atmosphere that makes me check what I'm wearing to see if I'm cool enough to be there...but the unpretentious service ameliorated any concern that I wasn't dressed the part.

Tocco interior.jpg

Ok, so I did eat there...and thankfully, after raving about the service, the food was delicious.  The menu has an assortment of tasty-sounding pizzas and lovely pasta dishes.  I could have eaten any of the offerings, really, but to eat right, I did have to make some important decisions. 

In review of the appetizers, the formaggi misti called my name.  Yes, that is a plate of four Italian cheeses with honey and marmalade.  I did not want to resist it (I said honey and marmalade with the cheeses) so in order to eat right, I opted for the homemade pappardelle bisanzio (gorgeous tomatoes atop fresh pasta, basil and black pepper).  If your weak for cheese, as I am, consider your meal pick when choosing the cheese.  Starting with a cheese plate means that it won't be followed by anything fried, creamy, bacon wrapped or for me, even meat containing. The only thing I'll say negative about the formaggi misti was that the cheese pieces were too generous for two and honestly, were under-priced at $12...I know, weird to say, but I banked on less for that price and that's why I thought it was an eat right choice.
tocco pasta.jpg
A bit about these tomatoes...they were so fabulous, perfectly sweet and savory and clearly a fresh bunch.  They were so wonderful that Bruno stopped at the table to comment on how ridiculous the tomatoes were.  He was right and I sparingly sprinkled parm so as not to ruin them.

My dinner mate enjoyed the fish of the day- a grouper cradled by these same amazing tomatoes.  He licked his plate.

A bit more about tomatoes...not only are they delicious and a staple in my diet, they are good for you.  Get a load of this:  did you know if you eat tomatoes, especially with a splash of olive oil (fat), they are actually BETTER for you?  Yes, tomatoes contain the phytonutrient lycopene and because it is fat soluble, you will absorb it better with a piggy back (dash of fat). 

What a great evening at Tocco!  The wine was brilliant (Pinot Nero, Saracco 2006- only know that because I took a picture of it), the food was tasty, service impeccable, the price was on the low end and bottomline, I was able to eat right!

Thanks, Bruno for helping me eat right around Chicago!   

[PS- will I give a rave review to all establishments?  Unlikely, but I may not glow after them all.]



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