Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gioco: A South Loop Gem

Winter's upon us and nothing goes better with the bitter cold then a warm Italian dinner. With that in mind we recently decided to venture out and hit up one of our local South Loop gems, Gioco. Located on the west side of the 1300 block of Wabash, Gioco was Jerry Kleiner’s first restaurant in the South Loop. The restaurant has now been open for about 10 years and has garnered plenty of positive reviews and even awards from prestigious magazines such as “best new restaurants” in Chicago Magazine and Bon Appetit’s “Favorite Places in 2000”.

In typical Kleiner fashion, the d├ęcor is distinct and unusual. However, the decorations aren’t as over the top and whimsical as some of his other restaurants (ie Room 21, Carnivale and Opera). The exposed brick and low lighting levels provide an intimate and warm feeling which provides a subtle romantic atmosphere. The kitchen is open to the dinning room for those interested in watching the chefs scramble. The bar area isn’t huge, but has an interesting and hypnotic red glow that gives it an unusual “loungey” type of feel.

During the warmer months, the front windows of the restaurant swing open and lead to a couple of tables on the Wabash sidewalk. Other restaurants in the area also provide amble outdoor seating on Wabash and collectively all the restaurants provide a fun, lively scene for enjoying warm weather and nights (Gioco, Opera, Zapatista and Exposure Tapas Supper Club).

In terms of the food, we’ve been twice and loved the tortellini. The veal dish however received mixed reviews from our table. Most recently we tried the scallops, which were very tender and had a great tasting garlic flavor. Like most Italian restaurants, wine is a staple and Gioco doesn’t disappoint. Their list is extensive if that’s your thing.

The place is usually very busy on the weekends and caters to the later dinner crowd. So if you’re up for an earlier dinner you will have no problem getting in, however after 7:30 I would make sure to call before hand.

As our good friend Borat would say, “Weee Liiiiike”! Hope you do too.

1 comment:

Buy Kitchen Cabinets Online said...

Thanks for introducing such a nice restaurant. I will wait for more.