Italian Eats & Atmosphere at Balena

March 29, 2012 | by —Jeff Keleher | Homepage

The do-no-wrong BOKA Restaurant Group usually goes it alone, but for its latest venture in culinary capital, they've joined forces with the farm-to-table visionaries behind The Bristol. The result: Balena, a Lincoln Park eatery that brings to fruition the duo’s shared dream of a truly authentic Italian restaurant (in one of Chicago’s ritziest neighborhoods, no less). Main-course must-haves include stuffed rabbit loin and tagliolini nero, but the chefs are also serving up fire-baked, gourmet pizzas from their custom oven (everything from basic mozarella, basil, and tomato to lasagna pie), and The Bristol’s noted pastry chef, Amanda Rockman (fresh off an appearance on Top Chef: Just Desserts), creates Balena’s tasty treats. The intimate décor harkens back to the old country, exuding rustic Italian ambiance with its sumptuous brown leather-adorned chairs and arched, wooden-trussed ceiling. Although it took a while to get the fire burning under Balena, it has already proven to be well worth the wait. 1633 N. Halsted Ave., 312-867-3888

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