New to the 'Scene'
I guess today's the day I add my praise of Animale to all the others. The casual sitdown spot from the owners of Osteria Langhe has made some noise on the review circuit. It's the type of spot that attracts pretty much every single one of Chicago's major publications. People wanted to see how the guys behind one of the city's better Italian restaurants did with a more casual approach. So far so good.
Newly Opened in Bucktown
Animale sits under the Western avenue blue line stop. The mural on the outside of the building has for sure turned some heads that were driving by. So far they've been able to do what the previous tenant of this space wasn't able to do and that's attract a crowd. The design is nice but the food is the reason people are coming in for lunch/dinner. So far I've ate maybe half the menu and pretty much loved all of it. It sounds crazy to say but the best thing on the menu might be their fries. These are the best thick cut fries I've ever come across and I'm not sitting solo in that camp. Legit as it gets.
The thick cut fries are served salted with a tangy dipping sauce and that's really all you need. But if you're feeling like a food beast you could unleash your feelings on the Ferocious Puppies. This decadent dish consists of Fries, Pancetta, Peppered Onions, Calabrian Chiles, Arugula, Fontina, and a Sunnyside Egg. It's like Irish Nachos like with an Italian influence as far as the toppings. This dish was spicy, rich, and delicious all at the same time. Might want to eat these with a couple others.
The menu is pretty much it's own thing but the Plin Pasta that's popular at Osteria Langhe makes an appearance. Here it comes dressed with house Pancetta and Arugula. It might be even better than the version at Osteria Langhe. You know that old saying that "bacon makes everything better" well the same goes for Pancetta. They roast in-house and some of it sprinkled onto the pasta is perfect.
The "un-traditional parts" of the menu is what has most people excited. These are dishes featuring some not so common animal organs. You'll find stuff like sweets breads, beef tongue, and blood sausage as well as other things. So far we tried the tripe dish which was almost stew like. Honestly I prefer my tripe fried crispy so this wasn't my favorite item on the menu. The rabbit livers were interesting indeed. Something most any offal lover would enjoy. Unique flavors for sure.
Rabbit Livers - Thyme, Mushrooms, Shallots, Madeira, Toast
So far the star of the show for me has been the Pancetta sandwich. It's called a carbonara because it includes the house roasted pancetta which gets sliced extra thin as well as an egg. I guess the bread plays the role of pasta. Whatever you want to call it is fine by me because it's a damn fine specimen.
Can't make a carbonara without any cheese and this one has that (Parmigiano). It also has some expertly prepared grilled onions as well as a runny egg. It's not stacked high with meat but they put just enough in to make this a sandwich that most any person would enjoy. Go see for yourself.
1904 N. Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60647