#24 - Quartino Ristorante - Chicago, IL

I went to Chicago last weekend for a mini reunion of some of my Purdue friends.  I would normally never go out of town so close to the first home game, but I hadn't seen some of these people in 20 years, so I knew I had to make an exception.  Plus, Chicago is one of my all-time favorite cities.  I love it there in the summer, but the winters are brutal. 

I went to Purdue for 3 semesters out of high school.  In a nutshell:  applied because there was no fee; went there cause my choices were Purdue or go to Maryland and live at home; partied a LOT; and flunked out.  I was devastated at first, but everything happens for a reason, and I probably wouldn't be where I am today if I had stayed.  I met some amazing friends during my short stint in West Lafayette.  Six of us who were suitemates as freshmen are still friends today.   Not as close, due to life, marriage, kids, distance, work, etc.  But whenever we do get together, we have a great time.

Friday night, after we checked into the hotel we decided to grab some dinner.  There's about a million options in downtown.  We tried to go to RPM, a restaurant recently opened by Juliana Rancic and her husband.  Well, a new trendy restaurant in Chicago on a Friday night means it's going to be packed.  We got there at 8:30PM, and it was still a 3 hour wait just to be seated in the dining room.  It was open seating in the bar, but that was absolutely jam packed as well.  We made 2 laps around the bar just in case, with no luck.  So we went to Quartino, just a couple short blocks away.

The wait was only about 20 minutes for the dining room, but we found a table in the bar area right away.  My phone was almost dead, so I wasn't able to take any pictures, but I did find a few on the website.  Quartino does small, shareable plates.   Cristin was having a "proseco weekend" so of course she had a glass of that...I decided to start with a glass of the Rioja, a Spanish red wine.  It was light and really good

For dinner, we did several plates and shared them.  My phone was almost dead so I couldn't take pictures, but found these online.  
Polenta Fries
Pappardelle al Sugo di Manzo Tuscan Pasta Ribbons
with Braised Beef Tomato Sauce
Shrimp Risotto (Zucchini & Sun-Dried Tomatoes)
I had never had polenta fries before.  But really, pretty much anything fried is going to be good!  And it was.  It was served with a red bell pepper salsa that was really tasty.  The pappardelle dish was excellent.  The pasta was fresh and homemade.  The shrimp risotto was okay.  It might have been because when the risotto arrived we were deep in conversation and didn't eat it right away.  Cristin said it definitely wasn't as good as she had eaten there before.  But the rest of the meal was excellent.