Tortello

1746 W. Division, Chicago, IL, 60622 , West Town

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Tortello

Tortello - Chicago

Tortello serves some of the very finest pasta in Chicago, handmade in their front windows, perfectly sauced and served in a casual yet smart and sophisticated space…with a Vespa hanging from the ceiling.

Tortello serves some of the very finest pasta in Chicago, handmade in their front windows, perfectly sauced and served in a casual yet smart and sophisticated space…with a Vespa hanging from the ceiling.

Dario Monni and spouse Jill Gray opened Tortello and started preparing superior pasta based on recipes acquired during Monni's childhood in Venice and Sardinia. To train his staff, Monni and Gray brought in Lilla Simone from Puglia to teach the crew how to make pasta as good as they used to, and still do, in the old country.

Monni and Gray have created a space that’s suitable for single diners, couples on dates, families or groups of friends, offering premium pasta at a very reasonable price. You can see the pasta made in the window, watch it being prepared in the open kitchen, and then served to you – kind of like sitting in nonna’s kitchen. As a matter of fact, much of Monni’s inspiration, and some of his recipes, come from his grandmother, and it's no secret that grandmothers are the inspiration behind many chefs.

In the kitchen is Duncan Biddulph, formerly of Lula Café, Rootstock, The Winchester, Kinmont and The Publican. Biddulph is a major name in Chicago's culinary community, and just having him in the kitchen might have been enough for some restaurants. At Tortello, the vision of Monni/Gray and Biddulph come together to make what will be some of the finest plates of pasta you have ever tasted.

We were knocked out by the chiusoni, delicate little football-shaped pasta, with rippled exterior that hold the rich, buttery sauce in place. Sprinkled with lightly fried sage leaves, this is pasta that you will still be thinking of the next day.

The eponymous tortello are plump pasta “cakes” filled with burrata and topped with crispy sage leaves, a preparation that leverages beautiful ingredients and accomplished kitchen craftsmanship to create a classic of Italian simplicity and deliciousness.

For those on a low-carb diet, there’s zucchini “pasta,” thin ribbons of the vegetable with a beef ragu, both light and hearty.

Bucatini with fresh tomatoes and lobster is maybe the fanciest platter on the menu, and for the kids, there are plates of just the pasta with butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or a simple tomato sauce…and what kid does not love noodles? Watching parents eat the more sophisticated preparations will, however, likely encourage kids to up their table game and try some of the other menu options.

There is, of course, the spaghetti, the perennial favorite, but with so many exotic pasta configurations to catch your attention, it may be difficult to select such a tried-and-true favorite…though it is excellent.

Tortello also offers a take-out service, with the pasta and sauces prepackaged and ready to take home to impress your family and friends.

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