Friday, August 14, 2020


-Grubbing in Chicago
New to the 'Scene'

It's hard to believe but restaurants keep opening. Maybe not as many as before and probably not as many in six months but for now many places planned pre-pandemic are still giving it a go. That's the story with the team behind Osteria Langhe in Logan Square. They recently opened Testaccio over on California in the space formerly occupied by Quiote. Like Osteria Langhe the menu is regional.

 Newly Opened in Logan Square 

Italian food is very regional and there's no better example of this than the food of Rome. But there's more than the four pastas and porchetta. That said you can expect to find the heavyweights of Roman cuisine on the menu at Testaccio. The space itself is a big spot with plenty of room for outdoor dining. I noticed there were people dining inside on our visit but we made sure to ask for outside seats specifically. I'll have to admit to feeling a bit nervous here and there. Well maybe not nervous but annoyed. I'm not sure this can work for the long haul. It certainly cant work during winter. But it's stuff that's going to have to be dealt with if you want to enjoy a night out anytime soon. The evening got much better when the food started arriving. Cacio e Pepe is served with Orecchiette which works just fine. The simplest of Roman pastas isn't so easy to make but Testaccio crushed it. They had the sauce to where it was basically like gravy. The advantage of cooking pasta in the same water all night. Of course the cheese was of high quality and the pepper was extra fresh. But technique is key.

 Cacio e Pepe at Testaccio 

They have a small section of pastas (4) but they're all tempting. Tortellini en Brodo is one of my favorite pasta preparations but it's from Bologna not Rome. Though here they make a Tortellini Amatriciana with a ham brodo and it was pretty much on point as far as the prep of the dish goes. Though I didn't like it nearly as much as the cacio e pepe which the waiter had told us was best.

 Tortellini Amatriciana 

We didn't get any of the skewers but it was cool seeing them on the menu. Some of the best lamb skewers I ever had were on a trip to Rome not too long ago. I've heard good things but we decided to go with a Roman style Surf & Turf for our next course(s). The surf part being a well made whole grilled branzino fish with braised greens, castelvetrano olives, preserved lemon. The fish was stuffed with herbs too so they really penetrated the tender fall apart flesh. This was good summer eating.

 Whole Branzino at Testaccio

The turf part would be the porchetta. Duh. One of my favorites as far as sandwiches go and also really good when ate on a plate with pickled mustard seed, apple, gremolata, and salsa verde (not the spicy Mexican kind but the herb-y Italian blend). The pork was crispy on the outside and near jello like from within. Really good and even better when crisped up extra in a pan the next day. I noticed they still have the truck that the Quiote team sold tacos out of and thought it would be really cool if they did daytime suppli and or porchetta sandwiches out of it at Testaccio. But that's just me being greedy. We need to embrace places like this now more than ever so I suggest going now and enjoying a nice meal out if that's something you're comfortable doing. Otherwise it could be all Olive Garden's soon. Much love to Aldo Zaninotto and team. They've brought the area another great regional Italian option.

Porchetta at Testaccio 

2456 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 661-6028

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