Birthday Lunch at Nico Osteria

Nico Osteria Chicago 1Most of the time Chicago feels worlds away from Italy, both in aesthetics and tempo.

We rush around. We eat our food on the go. We multitask like it’s our job (and often it really feels like it is). We are constantly on the goooooo.

Stopping to enjoy a good meal with good company at a leisurely pace?

It’s the sort of Italian bon vivant Chicagoans shun on principle.

And yet a little slice of Italy has planted itself on the sunny corner of Rush & Bellevue and entrenched itself quickly in the hearts of us busy Midwesterners.

True Italian food has found a Second City home in Nico Osteria.
Nico Osteria Chicago 2Anna and I have long gushed about Nico. It’s just down the street from one of our favorite city shooting locations and makes for the perfect spot to sip, dine, and decompress after shoots. Nico Osteria ChicagoAnd with the onslaught of summer’s al fresco dining, it’s quickly become one of our favorites spots of all time.

Seriously.

So when my birthday rolled around earlier this month just before Anna left for her annual trip to Greece, we knew exactly where we wanted to have our celebration meal. Nico Osteria Chicago 3 The patio is a perfect place to sit back and enjoy some great summer people watching. Nico Osteria Chicago 8We began with a few cocktails including this Blackberry Delight: Modest vodka shaken with blackberry, vanilla, ginger and fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Served on crushed ice with fresh berries.Nico Osteria Chicago 9And this bright Surprisingly Positive: Plymouth gin shaken with fresh grapefruit juice, oregano, thyme and rose-water. Served on the rocks with a pinch of white pepper.
Nico Osteria Chicago 5 Next we moved on to Nico’s astoundingly delicious bread plate.
Nico Osteria Chicago 7 Their olive varieties are particularly superb. Nico Osteria Chicago 22Nico Osteria Chicago 20Anna opted to try a new dish entitled Crispy Heritage Chicken: spigarello, sage, and apricot. 
Nico Osteria Chicago 17 Nico Osteria Chicago 15Hubby opted for his favorite, the Gold Coast Burger. Topped with lobster salad, avocado, pickled fresno chili, and gem lettuce, this is one luxurious burger aptly named after one of Chicago’s most luxurious neighborhoods. 
Nico Osteria Chicago 10Nico Osteria Chicago 11I opted for my favorite, the Orecchiette: bigeye tuna, broccoli rabe, chile pepper, and pecorino romano.

It’s a simple dish with magnificent flavors. The tuna tastes almost exactly like traditional sausage but has a lighter texture that melts in with the crispy broccoli, al dente pasta and robust cheese beautifully.

No dish could have sung me happy birthday in such a delicious way! It’s easily my favorite pasta dish in all of Chicago.

And, since I ordered it on my birthday, you know I mean it. 
Nico Osteria Chicago 19We also sampled this ooey, gooey side of Soft Polenta with taleggio cheese.

Yum!Nico Osteria Chicago 24And you know after we devoured all of that, we still couldn’t resist dessert, especially on my birthday!
Nico Osteria Chicago 30 I started with a glass of my favorite aperitif, Meletti Amaro. It’s a mellow, slightly bitter palate cleanser that has a nice floral finish.

Few people have tried it so if you ever see it on the menu, order it! It’s strong but such a nice transition to sip on between your entrée and dessert.Nico Osteria Chicago 26Hubby ordered this smashing plate of Tiramisu: mascarpone cream, mescal, espresso crunch, and creme de cacao.Nico Osteria Chicago 28While Anna and I shared this beautiful dish of gelatos. We sampled the Sweet Corn & Olive Oil Gelato, Greek Yoghurt & Lemon Curd Sorbet, and…Nico Osteria Chicago 29my favorite, the creamy sweet Burnt Honey Gelato. It’s a sinfully rich honey flavor captured in one of the creamiest gelato formulas I’ve ever eaten.

Looking for simple Italian perfection in a Chicago meal? Nico may just be where you spend your next birthday too!

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