Special Series: Dinner and Theatre Pairings Part 1

Wed. March 12, 2008 12:00 AM
by Feature Column

Fiorentino's Cucina Italiana
Written by: Michael J. Roberts

For the next several months, as the weather is changing and people are heading out of their Chicago igloos and back into society, I thought it would be fun to spotlight some fantastic neighborhood restaurants that would compliment a great theatre production. These are not restaurant reviews but overviews. I am not, nor have ever pretended to be a restaurant critic. These restaurant choices are made to hopefully introduce you to some spots you may have overlooked and would make a great evening of dinner/theatre.

So let's start off with a bang! If attending a show at the Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont, such as ‘My Dinner With Amy' (read review), instead of heading across the street on Belmont for a drinks and dinner, instead, a few blocks away on Ashland Ave, sits one of the greatest family owned Italian restaurants you will find in the city. Fiorentino's Cucina Italiana opened in June 2006 and has been a success ever since. The Fiorentino family, whose roots are firm in the Sicilian tradition, has been in the restaurant industry for generations, including establishments at the University of Illinois and in the near north suburbs.

Fiorentino's Cucina Italiana matriarch Francesca (who makes Sophia Loren look mediocre) gives credit to her son Stephen, a business management graduate of DePaul University, for opening this neighborhood hot spot. Chef Sergio Morale has taken the Fiorentino traditional family recipes and added a few little of his own touches to make the menu accessible to any diner. "The biggest misconception is that Italian food is heavy" proclaims Francesca, as she graciously bought an array of the restaurants' signature dishes to sample including a spectacular Spiedini alla Griglia (thinly sliced filet, lightly breaded with lemon and olive oil); Pomadoro alla Capricciosa which is a tossed salad with Mrs. Fiorentino's handmade balsamic blue cheese infused dressing; cooked to perfection calamari, Rigatoni alla Boscaiala (sweet Italian sausage in a light cream sauce); Fettuccini Miribella (black fettuccini as a base pasta, with asparagus, shrimp and scallops); and my personal favorite dessert Cannoli Dream which you will just have to taste to know the true addiction of this delectable masterpiece.

When asked what Mrs. Fiorentino would recommend if you and a date were coming in for dinner before or after a show (more specifically her son Tony's show ‘My Dinner With Amy') she emphatically states the Pomadoro alla Capricciosa and Penne Puttenesca paired with a great bottle of Nero d'Avola a great Sicilian Syrah or if you are in the mood for white, try the Sicilian Puiatti Pino Grigio.

Fiorentino's Cucina Italiana is located at 2901 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60657. Phone:773.244.3026 For more detailed information please visit www.fiorentinoscucina.com For showtimes and ticket info regarding ‘My Dinner For Amy' or other shows at the theater building, please visit www.theatbuildingchicago.org