4 new places to savor Italian fare in Chicago

Interested in sampling some new Italian spots in Chicago? You're in luck -- we've found the freshest businesses to fill the bill. Here are the newest places to check out the next time you're in the mood for Italian food.

Sapori Antichi Bar Italiano

22 W. Ohio St., River North

Photo: Sapori Antichi Bar Italiano/Yelp

First up is Sapori Antichi Bar Italiano, an Italian restaurant and bar founded by Michael and Mary Meranda. In case you recognize the names, their other business, Gelato D'oro, took first place in the Gelato World Tour's 2016 Illinois Challenge at Chicago Gourmet.

The fresh River North arrival serves classic Italian dishes like house-made lasagna with bechamel, bolognese, Parmesan and burrata ($15); ricotta and eggplant stuffed ravioli in a roasted red pepper sauce with herbed goat cheese and garlic bread crumbs ($17); and hand-made gnocchi with cherry tomatoes, vodka, zucchini, speck (an Italian cured and smoked meat), porcini mushrooms and scamorza cheese ($19).

Sapori Antichi Bar Italiano currently holds five stars out of six reviews on Yelp, indicating positive feedback from initial visitors.

"Having lived in Italy as a child and being first generation Italian, I can tell you that this is truly one of the best Italian experiences in Chicago," wrote Yelper Carmela S. "The drink menu is incredibly creative, fun and authentic -- and don't even get me started on the hand-crafted gelato."

Maria R. noted, "All the pasta is made in-house. The gnocchi were pillows of softness and the branzino was really tasty. The sun-dried tomatoes, burrata, sausage, and broccoli rapini were amazing!"

Sapori Antichi Bar Italiano is open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on Sunday.

Knead Pizza

2101 W. North Ave., Wicker Park

Photo: Knead pizza/Yelp

Next on the list is Knead Pizza, an independently owned Italian spot offering Neapolitan-style thin-crust round pies (no slices), homemade pasta and gelato.

Located across from Sultan's Market, Knead fires up notable pies like the "Alice in Wonderland," topped with prosciutto, arugula and shaved Parmesan; and the "Top of the Mornin' to Ya," stacked with bacon, roasted potatoes, shallots, and a sunny-side up egg.

Yelp users are excited about Knead Pizza, which currently holds 4.5 stars out of 28 reviews on the site.

Yelper Cheryl A. noted, "The Margherita pizza was wonderful. The crust was thin and had great flavor. All the food tasted very fresh. I also had the pasta with meatballs, which had great flavor."

"My new favorite pizza," Kristen M. wrote. "Knead's pizza crust is to die for. The pizza and drink selections were well thought out, and the interior was well done with upgraded materials and attention to detail. The pizza is the best of its kind in that area."

Knead Pizza is open from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. on Tuesday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. on Sunday. (It's closed on Monday.)


2715 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square

Photo: Polly s./Yelp

Saba recently opened its doors in Logan Square, courtesy of the minds behind the Harding Tavern. The new neighborhood addition invites everyone to sample its take on house-made pasta, pizza, cocktails and Italian sodas.

Hailing from Boston restaurants Coppa and Toro, Chef Mark Bestmann drives the kitchen at Saba, where his menu "includes shareable dishes and small plates," according to Eater Chicago via a news release. The establishment boasts a full bar, and on the menu you'll find classic Italian fare like penne with vodka sauce and eggplant Parmesan with citrus gremolata.

Yelp users are excited about Saba, which currently holds 4.5 stars out of 20 reviews on the site.

Danielle R. noted, "Welcome to the neighborhood Saba! Everything was delightful -- from the staff to the cocktails, to the dinner and dessert! This place is a do not miss -- get it on your list!"

"Great addition to the neighborhood," Yelper Nora D. said. "Our waiter was friendly and made great recommendations. The atmosphere was energetic, but not too loud for a Friday night. We loved the burrata and beets appetizer, and shared the agnolotti and a Margherita pizza -- pasta was delicious. The chocolate dessert with sea salt and granola was amazing. Will return for sure."

Saba is open from 4 p.m.-midnight on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and 4 p.m.-1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Firenze Italian Street Food

131 N. Clinton St., West Loop

Photo: Firenze Italian Street Food/Yelp

Looking for a fresh new sandwich spot? Firenze Italian Street Food has you covered. The restaurant specializes in customizable sandwiches and salads, and "brings the street food of Florence, Italy to Chicago, Illinois by offering simple, authentic, and homemade food," according to the business' website.

After choosing a foundation from items like schiacciata bread, mixed greens, or marinated kale -- build your own sandwich or salad by adding anything from prosciutto and homemade roast beef, to roasted peppers and honey-whipped ricotta.

Firenze Italian Street Food has proven popular thus far, currently holding five stars out of 27 reviews on Yelp.

"Tastes like Italy," said Yelper Phil D. "Firenze is a clean and simple stall at the French Market, set up in the fast casual format where you choose your type of entree and then assemble with various cuts of deli meat, vegetables, and spreads. They nail it from a quality ingredient perspective."

Yelper Ariana G. wrote, "Yum! Firenze Italian Street Food is mixed in with a bunch of other vendors at the French Market, but boy does it stand out! "

Firenze Italian Street Food is open from 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Saturday. (It's closed on Sunday.)
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