Last visit 8/9/09
Right across the street from Osteria Via Stato, another Italian concept restaurant, is Quartino, a small plate Italian eatery that opened in December 2005. The name comes from a size of wine carafe, you can order by the quartino or larger sizes or by the bottle. The critics seem to like Quartino better than Osteria Via Stato but I liked Osteria better but some people might not like the idea that they are not ordering most of their food.
I've eaten here three times now, most recently on Sunday for lunch. There were quite a few other people dining but it wasn't full. The weekend evening are likely to be much busier. There is a small outdoor patio and space upstairs for parties. Service was friendly but not overbearing on my most recent visit. You can reserve a table on Open Table
The interior is rather interesting, I thought it was a converted space as the interior fixtures and tiling seemed rather old but when I asked they said that the interior was all "new". They did a really nice job of making it look like a reahb-tin ceilings, tiled floors, wood bar.
Favorite Dish: The menu consists of a lot of small plates, both hot and cold, that range around $5-10. There are also reasonably priced pasta selections, some main courses and a selection of wood fired pizzas. You can also order meats and cheese from the antipasti menu, they leave a pencil so you can mark what you want. The waiter recommended three items for the 2 of us and it was more than we could eat. The dishes come out as they are ready
We ordered a cheese fondue with bread cubes ($9), fried calamari ($9) and a thin crust pepperoni pizza ($10). This was more than enough food for the two of us. I really liked the cheese fondue, the pepperoni pizza was good but I note looking at my picture from a previous visit that they used to put a lot more pepperoni on it, the calamari I wouldn't order again. Lunch for the two of us was $38 including tax and tip but we didn't order wine, add a bit more if you are drinking.
Oooooh! I love this concept! Smaller, informal, light plates that are perfect for sharing and sampling. Fun, tasty wines that complement the food. Relatively simple dishes that are well executed. An ambience that is good for lunch, afternoon snacking and yacking, pre-theater dinners or post-opera suppers. Yes, I think Quartino has a lot going for it.
I have to admit that I was paying more attention to my delightful company than to the food when I was last here - in November 2006, for a great VT meetup with Deecat and her daughter Jill, chwit21, and my south loop buddies Gerald and Janet. But I'd eaten here before, during the summer, and was quite impressed with the atmosphere and the value. Quartino makes a great place for gatherings of somewhat larger groups: the servers are well-prepared to deal with the contingencies of big tables. (Just make sure to call ahead and alert the restaurant - or use their on-line booking service.)
Another good thing - Quartino is open for lunch on Saturdays! That's not such an easy thing to find.
Our group had great fun here. Deecat and her daughter Jill are two sweet peas in a pod. Let me tell you, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!
Favorite Dish: Dabs recommends, and I second, the Profiteroles for dessert. Be sure to save room!
It's not exactly food, but the Bellinis (a sparkling wine/peach juice cocktail, famously from Harry's Bar in Venice) are quite tasty and go down easily!
It's always so wonderful when Chet (yooperprof) comes into Chicago from Marquette, Michigan. His choices of places to eat always guarantee a good time along with delicious cuisine.
This time, he chose Quartino (An Italian Bistro) on State Street. What a choice! It was a small group (which I always prefer so that we can all join in on the conversation). Fortunately, I was staying overnight at my daughter Jill's (jillzi) house, and she graciously agreed to join me. In addition, the young and vibrant Charles (cwhit21) joined the group along with Chet's friends and our adopted VT folks, Eric and Shannon. Now, this was the perfect group combination...the conversation never stopped except when we were eating or laughing.
Quartino has a fun menu with items that are meant to be shared..and, boy, we did lots of sharing.
The Lunch Menu includes Neopolitan Pizza, Fondu, Wine Bar Plates, Sandwiches (Panini or Piadina), Meats, Salads, Specialty Salads, Pasta, and Risotto. Of course, there are plenty of Dessert choices along with a wide variety of wines and other beverages.
Favorite Dish: Jill and I had printed out the menu from Quartino's website, and were really anticipating this luncheon meeting. We were not disappointed. The service was superior; our waiter and his helpers were efficient, helpful, and patient.
Some of my favorites that we ordered were:
Fonduta for $9.00. Italian Artisan Cheese Blend served with Calabrese Bread.
White Bean Garlic spread for $3.00
Jill and Dee shared: Quattro Formaggi Panini (sandwich) with Parmigiano-Reggiano, Fontina, Mozzarella, and Asiago cheeses for $6.00
Jill and Dee Shared: insalate Caprese with fresh buffalo mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, basil and aged Balsamic syrup ) $6.00
A plate filled with Salamette (baby dried, medium spice salami) $4.00; Prosciutto di Parma (Italian dried ham, aged 18 months) $4.00; Formaggi Italiani (cheeses) Pecorino Toscano (sheep's milk, olivey, nutty, semi-hard) $4.00; Gorgonzola Dolce (cow's milk, creamy, mild, semi-soft) $4.00.
We also had a plate of Assored Olives (Gaeta Liguarian, Green Abruzesse, Sicilian Oil Cured) $4.00.
Of course, there were drinks to be enjoyed as well!
Chet enjoyed a Risotto $9.00
Charles seemed to like a seafood pasta $13.00
Eric and Shannon shared a Pepperoni Pizza ($10.00)
We had several Desserts:
Chet: Profiteroles (vanilla gelato, chocolate sauce & toasted almonds) $5.00
Eric: Copa al Banana (Carmelized banana, vanila gelato, Biscotti, whipped cream, chocolate sauce & chocolate shavings) $7.00
Jill and Dee: Classic Dark Chocolate served with Strawberries $9.00
Several people enjoyed coffee or cappuccino $2.75-$3.75
What a fantastic afternoon!
Quartino is a fairly new restaurant, serving Italian small-plates. A reservation is definitely required, as this is a happening spot and is always crowded! We had great service and great food, and did not have to wait a long time to be served. Looking at the menu here for the first time may be overwhelming until you get the hang of picking your choices. You are given a card to choose hors d'Ovures and they bring them out on a tray placed on a stand in the middle of the table. Giant breads are displayed in the center of the restaurant, and there is a lounge upstairs as well.
Favorite Dish: This time I tried the linguine with red clam sauce. It had kick, a little spicier than I'm used to for clam sauce, but it was very good.
The duck prosciutto was my favorite hors d'Ovure on the tray, but just a tip-- if you don't like salty food, it's definitely not for you! You have a choice of other meats, olives and cheeses as well.
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