SOUTH SIDE ITALIAN
Gioco is a place I've been wanting to go too for quite some time now and I finally got the chance last week.
I've heard many good things about this restaurant from a number of people and let me tell you they were not exaggerating.
If your in the hospitality business in Chicago your well aware of co-owner Jerry Kliener and his partners expertise in opening restaurants. With the success of places like Marche, Red Light and Opera, it's no surprise that Gioco has become a very popular place in such a short time.
Located south of Roosevelt Road, in an area which is still being developed, Gioco is a great choice for dinner or drinks.
As soon as you walk in you can smell the wood burning stove which sets the mood for the rustic Italian dinner that follows.
The room is a large open space with brick walls, velvet curtains and high ceilings. The large bar is simply elegant with it's high shelves lined with books, wines and liquors. The open kitchen is another added plus. I love watching a kitchen at work.
My wife and I had reservations around six o'clock on a Thursday night. If you've been in the business as long as I have, you know to avoid the weekends if you want to relax and enjoy your meal. If you want to go on the weekends be prepared to wait for a table.
I looked up the menu on-line to get an idea of what we wanted before getting there. Unfortunately, I chose the "Costata Di Maiale" (12oz grilled pork chop) which was no longer on the menu. This is a detail that should be fixed in order not to disappoint any more of their guests in the future.
For appetizers we ordered the "Cozzi alla Marinara" which are steamed mussels with white wine, garlic and tomato and the "Melanzane Fritte". Both dishes were equally delicious.
For dinner I ended up ordering the "Brasato Di Maiale" which is braised pork that was served on a bed of creamy polenta. My wife had the "Costata Di Manzo con Funghi Trifolati" which is the wood-grilled 16oz ribeye with mushrooms.
The pork was tender and juicy and fell right off this huge bone sitting on my plate. The combination of flavor was just fantastic. This dish certainly made up for not having the pork chop. My wife mentioned that the steak was the best she ever had and can't wait to go back.
We finished up our dinner with a chocolate cake that topped the entire meal.
Gioco was definitely a great discovery.
For a glimpse at Gioco's menu go to www.gioco-chicago.com.
Great Chicago Italian Recipes.com