Location:671 N St. Clair
Cost: Probably around $30-$40 per person

Speaking of Italian restaurants in Streeterville, there’s one that just moved into the vacant spot on the first floor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. My senior resident, Sonam, and I were going to get lunch when our coworkers Joel and Geoff honed in on the action. What was meant to be a quick Chick-fil-a run was sideswiped into a more formal affair (although we didn’t bother to change out of scrubs). That’s how we ended up trying Cicchetti.

Cicchetti is right on St. Claire to the side of the NMH entrance. It has this nice internal connection so we don’t even have to walk outside to get there. The interior design is really cool with these high rafters and plenty of wood. It’s pretty popular right now, and you’ll probably need a reservation for dinner. Lunch was no problem to walk in to. The cost is a bit up there for lunch. They’ve got a few sandwiches at $13 but otherwise the substantial dishes are between $15 and $30. Our waitress was very attentive and was able to get us back to work in a timely fashion.

The Food
Everyone was pretty hungry and we got a few appetizers to start with. Nonna’s Meatballs had this chunky sauce with bits of pancetta strewn throughout, making for a complex starter. The roasted mushroom pizza was also spot on. There was plenty of caramelized onion, and the crust was perfectly chewy with a snap to the first bite. The Anjou Pear Salad was well balanced and has had me hooked on pears for a while since.

The Meatballs

The Roasted Mushroom Pizza
For the “main course” we split the Braised Short Rib Ravioli and the Braised Pork Shoulder and Provolone Panino. The ravioli were delicate with these hearty shavings of parmesan over the top. The panini was my favorite item. The fried egg on top was perfectly runny and the giardiniera added a ton of flavor. The bread soaked up the oil from the pork and giardiniera along with the egg yolk to make for a fantastic bite.

The Braised Pork Shoulder Pannini 

The Braised Short Rib Ravioli
I’m well versed in hotel lobby restaurants, but hospital lobby restaurants are a whole other ballgame. I barely scraped the surface of this menu, and despite being open for lunch, this seems like a restaurant built for dinner. I’ve also heard the cocktails are fantastic. The panini and the meatballs were my favorite items. I’m giving them 4 out of 5 Pearls and hope to get back for dinner before skipping town.

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