Friday November 24th 2017

“A Gem in Ravenswood Manor”

Driving along Montrose Avenue, one sees many types of signage along the way. If you start at the Lake, heading west, you will see many ethnic signs (mostly Spanish) and then, when you hit Western Avenue, you begin to see one of Chicago’s truly changing areas. Yes, you still see the Lutz Bakery building ( a Chicago Landmark) as you hit the river and then, after you pass California, the newness of the storefronts seems to hit you. For many years, Angelo’s has been a landmark on Montrose. Pizza slices, beef sandwiches and more were always tasty and affordable. As the family began to age, it was time to turn over the reins to the next generation. This at the same time that the neighborhood was beginning to “gentrify”. Angelo’s moved to the corner at 3026 West Montrose and did some remodeling, converting Angelo’s to Angelo’s Wine Bar Chicago.

The newness shows from the exterior façade to the wonderful wooded walls in the building. A fun bar with windows facing the street (which open, allowing the people sitting at the front to feel that they are part of the city) and tonight a great trio of jazz musicians to add some flavor to the evening. There is also an outside seating area for those who enjoy al fresco dining, but we opted for the larger, warm dining room and a corner booth. It was Jane and I along with our friends Larry and Aleeda. Our server, Maggie made certain that we were comfortable and brought us our drinks. The wine selection  is vast and of all price ranges. I of course, had my usual vodka martini and I will say that they offer a generous drink that was a perfect as a martini can get.

While they still have some of the items that made Angelo’s a great neighborhood spot, the menu has been modified to make sure that those who enjoy healthier vittles will be well satisfied. By the way, where they can, they attempt to do as much “farm-to-table” as possible. Being a “wine-bar” they have many ‘small plates ( Per La Tavola) which allows a group to try many of the savory items on the large menu. While the Chinese were probably the first to do so, “small-plates” (besides dim-sum) are also great in the Spanish (tapas) restaurants. How often do you hear someone say, ” I have a taste for something, but I am not sure what”. The small plate allows for trying something new as well.

We began with the Burrata Mostarda (a fruit mostarda with candied cashews and cheese served with a tasty toasted olive oil bread, Roasted Portobello (arugula, omato-confit, red onion, citrus supreme, gorgonzola, toasted almonds and balsamic vinaigrette) and probably the best calamari I have ever tasted ( in fact, all agreed the “crispy calamari” (sweet thai chili and a blend of confit, sesame, garlic and aioll) was a dish that was worth the drive for. Just a drink and a plate of this, even on the way to a Cubs game might just serve the evening as one of memory. The Brushetta while tasty was a bit spicy for three of the four diners. I had no problem with the spicy, but of late, “spicy is my thing!”. The Roasted Salmon was another item that I would return for, probably several times.

The small plates were the Shrimp Scampi (butter, garlic, lemon, Italian herbs, white truffle, parmesian and grilled bread trio) which was tasty and plenty for 4 to share. The same was true of the Gnocchi (potato ,vodka pomodoro,basil , ricotta and parmesan (comparable to the finest of Italian dining spots in town and the Lamb Lollipops ( a min-rack of lamb served with rainbow marble potato, peppers, arugula and mint chimichurri -to die for!) and the Roasted Amish Half Chicken (moist, juicy prepared with spring carrot, rainbow marble potato, confit tomato roasted shallot pan sauce). There were a great many more choices, but we wanted to save some room for dessert which Chef Julia Helton truly wanted us to sample. I am happy to say she knew what she was asking of us as we loved everything that was brought to the table- Tiramisu (Italian restaurants always offer this, BUT, their was far superior to any I had tasted before), Polenta pound cake (perfect moistness and a lemony flavor), Pistachio Gelato and the amazing, freshly prepared bread pudding ( I would stop by just for a coffee and bread pudding after a game ( I probably will!).

They have a great selection of Pizza’s which we will try next visit and of course several other pastas and small plate items including meatballs to offer. The dining room is beautiful. It was a bit loud at the start of our dinner as the room was filled ,as were the tables near the open windows allowing outside sound to enter. There are TV’s lining the walls which were tuned into an Italian film with subtitles and the one over the bar had the Cubs game on (they won!), so I am sure that they can set up more of a sports bar program for special sporting events.

The Ravenswood Manor neighborhood is one with a nice mixture of homes and ethnicities. There are also a great deal of younger people moving into the area which is why so many new dining spaces are opening or older ones changing with the consumers. Angelo’s is a tradition in the neighborhood, but as the “hood” has changed, so has the restaurant. Still high quality, good cooking at affordable prices, but now a bigger, and perhaps one might say, healthier selection with a friendly and warm staff waiting to cater to your every need.

The restaurant is located at 3026 West Montrose Avenue in Chicago. They have plenty of street parking in the area, but Angelo’s has a free lot across the street. For reservations call 773-539-0111.

They are open :

Monday-Thursday  4 p.m.- 12 a.m.

Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.- 1 a.m.

Sunday 11 a.m.- 12 a.m.

They do offer a brunch menu on the week-ends and based on the photos online, everything looks amazing!

Their website is www.angeloswinebarchicago.com. They have not updated the menu yet (the new summer menu is sheer perfection), but I am sure they will soon. I know that we enjoyed everything and are planning to return with others, soon!

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