David Richards, the chef and owner behind foodie-pleaser Sweets and Savories, took the reins of this home-style Italian comfort kitchen and dressed things up to Bucktown's boutique standards. The new interior makes for cozy, classy dining, with exposed brick and pumpkin-colored walls. Light glints off bottles of San Pellegrino lining the back bar, and a polished orange Vespa makes a purely ornamental statement. The place is ultra-cool, but the calculated slickness melts into the background when you snuggle into one of the tiny wooden tables, uncork your beverage of choice, and savor $3 antipasti like eggplant parmesan or prosciutto di Parma.
Most popular are the 10-inch brick-oven pizzas, kicked into the gourmet realm with ingredient pairings like pork with peach, duck with fennel and eggplant with mint. Our choice is the simple Fungi, which showcases plump, earthy wild mushrooms and fragrant basil against fontina cheese. Pizzas run $8-$14, unless you go for the bling version: Featuring 1 ounce of Russian beluga caviar and creme fraiche, this delicacy will set you back $100.
Despite the caviar, Barcello's hasn't forsaken its home-style roots entirely. Calzones remain a menu highlight, and entrees like osso bucco and Florentine steak are designed to feed two or more for intimate plate-sharing. Until the place gets its liquor license, there's no corkage fee for BYO service. Eventually, there will be a stocked bar, with a BYO option.
Reviewed By: Julia Steinberger