This strip of Clark was once home to the Rainbo Roller Rink, that family fun spot that was torn down in 2002 for a housing development (later named Rainbo Village — a ghost of the past). This cute, square-shaped restaurant slid into one of the new retail spaces below a few condos, claiming its place as a catalyst for the continuing gentrification of this neighborhood. Never mind that it's across from the cemetery — this place has a menu inspired by owner Jim Delelio's travels through Italy.
Named after Laghi di Monticchio, an area in the Basillicata region, this restaurant features — oh no, wait for it — thin-crust pizza! (Rare in Chicago, no?) The classic Margherita, which comes covered in tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, will set you back $9.50. The titular Monticchio pizza rings in at $11.50 and comes with fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers, onions and goat cheese; while the funghi porcini, made with tomato sauce, mozzarella and porcini mushrooms, is also only $11.50.
If you don't like the menu's pizza options, just make your own 14-inch, 16-inch or 18-inch. Or stuff your face with sweets like the cannoli di ricotta ($5), delectable pastry shells filled with sweet ricotta cheese, or a chocolate éclair. Charming black-and-white photos of Italy and its famous people, a low-light atmosphere and a full bar make this the perfect first-date spot.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Alicia Eler