Making a reservation at Monteverde has been a true challenge these past few months. The newer addition to the West Loop family has been packed each night with hungry diners looking to try the fresh pasta a la Chef Sarah Grueneberg (who also happens to be a Top Chef finalist). From the rustic decor with hand painted cutting boards, to the soft lighting, and the bar stars (pasta chefs working away at their craft), Monteverde is a gem in the West Loop, and the Chicago Italian food scene. The menu is concise, with nods to traditional and modern Italian fare, and a dessert list to leave happy with.
Start the meal with a fresh, palate cleansing Verde Spritz, made with Prosecco, gin, lemon and sage, or opt for an Italian wine, such as the Barbera d’Asti. As you wait for the food, crunch away on some rustic, Italian style bread sticks, which will remind you of your last trip to Rome.
Choosing from the snacks and the appetizers can be daunting, as there are many, but the cheesy Kale Palotte or the Himachi Crudo would be a great bet. For a lighter start, opt for a fresh salad, or go heartier with the artichoke and sunchoke crostini with black truffles.
The pasta menu reads short and sweet, divided into two categories: homemade pasta or Italian pasta, with just enough for any diet and palate. The Tortelonni de Zucca from the Italian pasta side is flavorful, rich and creamy with quash, parm fonduta and crunchy apple. The Arrabiata with shrimp from the homemade pasta side is spicy and fresh, different than the rich slow cooked arrabiata sauce one is used to, with ripe tomato sauce, chili and herbs. This can also be made totally vegetarian, which is a nice treat for those with special diets. Add a rotating side to your plate to complete a solid meal, such as the broccolini with chili. But keep in mind, this sides menu changes with the market.
After a hearty but fresh pasta meal, opt for a luscious dessert. There are many goodies to choose from like the Sbrisolona Cookie Sunday with sesame and praline, or the light but rich, Salted Butterscotch Budino. There is a complete dessert drinks menu as well, where you can taste some cocktails, wine or opt for an Italian-style digestivi.
Nabbing a table at Monteverde may not be as easy, but enjoying the experience and the food is just the opposite. Chef Sarah Grueneberg has set up a homey yet trendy spot which is welcome to the West Loop Restaurant family. Until the next plate, Bon Appétit!