Al Fresco with Dolce Italian

Dolce Italian Linguine Vongole 1While I like to pretend otherwise, there are so many problems in life that can be cured simply with a piping hot bowl of pasta or a crusty pizza.

Few cuisines feel as comforting and healing as Italian fare. A beautiful pile of pasta seasoned with care works wonders on the soul — the moment I take my first bite I slow down and close my eyes as I feel my troubles melt away.

Good food cures all!

So one warm afternoon I grabbed Rachel and headed over to the newly opened Godfrey Hotel to try an Italian spot whose pizza is already rumored to be legendary here in Chicago (no mean feat considering the fact that we’re a city KNOWN for pizza)… Dolce Italian! Dolce Italian Chicago Meant to encapsulate the romantic mid-century aesthetic of Fellini’s Rome, the space feels like a nouveau set straight out of Mad Men.Dolce Italian Chicago 2 With charming accents everywhere you turn!Dolce Italian Chicago 4 But no Chicagoan in their right mind sits indoors when it’s nice enough to dine al fresco! Rachel and I found a cozy spot to people watch and ordered a pair of Bloody Marys to start.

The balance in these bloodys was delicious and SPICY!Dolce Italian Chicago 3 We perused the menu as we sopped up olive oil with toasty bread (as if we weren’t about to eat our individual weights in carbs as it was). Dolce Italian Asparagus Soup First we started out with Dolce’s Asparagus Soup with parmesan broth and crème fraîche.Dolce Italian Asparagus Soup 1 Poured tableside.Dolce Italian Asparagus Soup 2Don’t dare overlook this simple soup! Executed to delicious, umami perfection (thanks to the parmesan broth) this is hands down the best asparagus soup I’ve had here in the Second City.

With none of the stringy, graininess that plagues so many other variations, this soup is a smooth, light burst of fresh flavor.
Dolce Italian Tuna Tartare 1 We then moved on to Dolce’s elegant Tuna Tartare.Dolce Italian Tuna Tartare 2Yellowfin tuna, seared fennel, romesco, and mandarin all come together to form a nicely flavored and beautifully presented dish that feels like a far more sophisticated version of chips and guac!Dolce Italian Fritto Misto Being gluttons for punishment we also opted to try Dolce’s Fritto Misto appetizer: calamari, shrimp, perch, vegetables, and mustard seed aioli.Dolce Italian Fritto Misto 1 Each piece was so delicious!

The breading had a hint of spice to it without being greasy — similar to a tempura batter but far more unique. I don’t often stuff my face with an entire plate of fried food but from now on, this dish will be the exception.Dolce Italian Primo Amore Startufata Pizza 3But I promised you legendary pizza and Dolce DOES NOT disappoint. Offering their pizzas in a stunning star shape with stuffed crust, this is the sort of pizza you can’t find anywhere else in the city.

And WOW is it worth seeking out. We tried the Primo Amore: burrata, arugula, san marzano tomatoes, and parmigiano. Dolce Italian Primo Amore Startufata Pizza As a self-proclaimed burrata lover, I just about face dived into this pizza when it arrived… no joke. Dolce Italian Primo Amore Startufata Pizza 1 After we had the opportunity to shoot it…

And post to Instagram:

A photo posted by mushroomstew (@mushroomstew) on

Dolce Italian Primo Amore Startufata Pizza 2Between the addictive crust (I normally never eat pizza crusts but finished all of mine), the creamy burrata, the fresh arugula, and the bright tomatoes, this is one seriously addicting pizza. I can’t wait to go back and try Dolce’s other varieties!
Dolce Italian Linguine Vongole But no Italian meal is complete without a heaping bowl of pasta either!Dolce Italian Linguine Vongole 2 I opted to try Dolce’s lunch-only dish of Linguine Vongole: littleneck clams, zucchini, white wine, and garlic.

Unassuming in appearance but mind-blowing in flavor. The richness of the clams and garlic were a beautiful compliment to the delicious pasta and I especially loved the addition of zucchini noodles for a change in texture!

This dish alone is worth running over to Dolce for lunch!
Dolce Italian Pappardelle Alla Bolognese 1Rachel ordered her favorite, the Pappardelle Alla Bolognese: braised beef, veal, and pork ragu.Dolce Italian Pappardelle Alla BologneseWhich looked incredible too! 
Dolce Italian Chicago Chocolate Bomb 2As full as we were we couldn’t resist the allure of Dolce’s desserts either!Dolce Italian Chicago Chocolate Bomb 1This was a banana gelato stuffed chocolate bomb with toasted meringue that literally melted in your mouth the moment it touched your tongue.
Dolce Italian Chicago Tiramisu 2We also tried Dolce’s classic tiramisu. An elegant presentation of simple flavors amplified by the cocoa nib chocolate brittle it’s garnished with. I never thought I would really enjoy the combination of chocolate and tiramisu together until this dish! And the strong espresso flavors were the perfect pick-me-up after our coma-inducing carb feast!

Few new restaurants this year have impressed me the way Dolce has. Every ingredient is chosen with conscious care and the execution is superb. Come here for comfort food, for gorgeous food, for the food you can’t find anywhere else in Chicago.

In short, just come to Dolce! You’ll probably see me face-diving into another pizza while you’re there!

A photo posted by mushroomstew (@mushroomstew) on

Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.

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