#26 - RPM Italian Restaurant, Chicago, IL

Julie and Wendy arrived in Chicago Saturday afternoon for our mini Purdue reunion.  We hadn't seen each other in years, so we spent the first hour catching up and getting ready for the evening.  Even though our conversations were now work, kids, and husbands, it felt like we were still back in college, getting ready for a night on the town.  Julie had brought lots of pictures from the Club Lutz parties in college, and they immediately took us back those 20 years.

From the time we planned this trip, Cristin had been raving about RPM Italian Restaurant. It's partially owned by Bill & Giuliana Rancic, and is located in Chicago's River North neighborhood. 

We tried to go on Friday night, and it did not work out well because the whole restaurant was jam packed. It was at least a 90 minute wait for a table, and you could barely even walk through the bar area to look for open bar seating. We weren't letting that happen a second time, so on Saturday we arrived at 6pm.  It worked out perfectly too, because the hotel to RPM was a 5 minute walk, and then another 5 minutes to Tim's condo for the party. There was a short wait in the main dining room, but when we saw open seating in the bar area we sat there.  

The restaurant is beautiful, with exposed ceilings, lots of floor-to-ceiling windows, white chairs and black tables. 

Photo courtesy of Ricco Rocca
The menu features a lot of small, shareable plates. I love that, because you can try several dishes. It's not a huge menu, but they do offer quite a few options, including appetizers, both hot and cold antipasti, homemade pastas, and entrees.

We started with both types of bread...fresh homemade ricotta with semolina toast

and truffle garlic bread

The ricotta was phenomenal. So light and fluffy. I had never had super fresh ricotta before and, just like everything else, fresh makes such a significant difference. There is really nothing like it. Yes, it was just sitting in that oil, but the oil infused beautiful flavor into the ricotta.  When the bread ran out I kept eating the ricotta plain, but we then ordered more bread. The garlic bread was fantastic as well.  There were herbs baked into the bread, but it was the fresh herbs on top, as well as the truffle and garlic, that brought out such an intensely wonderful flavor.

The appetizer special was fried squash blossoms

I've never had them before, and was a little leery so I let the others try it first.  They all said it was delicious, so I dove in...and they were right. The blossoms very lightly fried, and the sauce was delicious. 

Next we got prime beef meatballs

These meatballs were amazing. I love the presentation in the skillet, and the freshly grated parmesan added a wonderful bite to the sauce. The sauce itself was homemade and excellent.

The signature dish is Mama DePandi's Bucatini Pomodoro

Probably some of the best pasta I've ever had.  The tomato sauce is absolute heaven.  I know pasta is pasta, but I swear the shape changes the taste.  Maybe it's that some shapes absorb sauce better.  Who knows.  Point is, I must go and find some bucatini.  I actually found the recipe on Pinterest, but I'm afraid to make it cause I know it won't taste the same.  But I guess since I won't be back in Chicago any time soon, I may try it...in a few months.

For dessert, we had the Tartufo

I just realized I forgot to take a picture, so this is the one from the website.  It's hazelnut gelato with a chocolate shell...in other words, heaven.  I don't even think you need to guess, I could have torn through that thing all by myself.

Will I go back?  There is absolutely no question about that. Everything about our experience was fantastic. Even though there are thousands of restaurants in Chicago, this one is on my list for my next trip.