-Grubbing in ChicagoNew to the 'Scene'
Chicago's pasta game has improved dramatically over the last calendar year. One of the spots most responsible for this uptick in quality is Torchio Pasta Bar near the border of Old Town and River North. This area of the near north side isn't exactly known for passionate openings but Torchio isn't like most other restaurants in the area. For one it's not from a restaurant group. The owner is a first time restaurateur who's basic experience in the kitchen was throwing pasta parties at his home.
Newly Opened in River North
The spot Torchio sits in used to be a brunch spot I believe. It's a long and narrow space that the owner and his team gutted and then built back up to their liking. Seating is also available at the bar and outside on their patio surrounded by plants and flowers. It's a nice space that you get the feeling would be busy even if the food wasn't anything special. That's just the type of neighborhood it is.
Since it was still summer we started with a nice fresh house salad. This namesake salad is made of chopped lettuce, shrimp, crispy pancetta, mozzarella, celery, chick peas, cherry tomatoes, and red onion in a light red wine vinaigrette dressing. Pretty good but maybe better served with watercress or something other than iceberg lettuce. It felt out of place among the rest of the quality ingredients.
We both opted for a pasta bc that's why we came. They have salumi platters and a few classic apps like shrimp scampi but it's the pasta that's gotten all the media and food peoples praise. I went in expecting to get an order of bucatini with clams but the menu had been switched up before our visit. The other pasta we planned to try was still the first one listed in the "Torchio Pasta". House-made Torch-shaped pasta pairs with sausage & cremini mushrooms in a brandy, thyme, cream sauce. Excellent work with one minor quibble in that I don't like when places leave big chunks of sausage in their pasta. The loose sausage used could've been broken down a bit more. We also tried the classic that is Bucatini all'Amatriciana. It too was really well prepared and right up there with some of the better versions I've had elsewhere. I look fwd to their next menu unveiling as I prefer pastas made for winter weather as opposed to those that work better when it's warm out. Reservations recommended.
Bucatini all'Amatriciana at Torchio Pasta Bar
Torchio Pasta Bar
738 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654