This one is a true family affair. Brother and sister Dante and Paula Pieri continue to plate the Tuscan cuisine their parents began serving in 1979, before Taylor Street's Italian row even existed, points out Paula. All of Bacchanalia's recipes have been handed down, and menu updates reflect the latest tastes—in Pisa, Italy, where the Pieris' cousin works as a chef, updating his stateside family on all-the-rage dishes, from a new tilapia entree to the restaurant's best-selling limoncello martini.
Toss a chef from Bari and his Southern Italian flair into the equation, and expect to have a tough time selecting between the touted chicken vesuvio and the eponymous shrimp dish, made with zucchini, onions, mushroom, tomatoes and garlic sauteed in a "special" butter wine sauce and served over pasta.
All dishes are made to order, and you can't go wrong with a seafood entree; look for specials like swordfish vesuvio and lobster ravioli with "the best vodka sauce in Chicago." There's a pink-walled bar up front; the rear restaurant, with vinyl tablecloths and tiny white Christmas lights, seats about 65. Plenty of the tables are set for six, proving that though it's named for an indulgent Roman god, Bacchanalia's a great choice for families.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Schwartz