Caro Mio is a cozy neighborhood Italian restaurant near the Ravenswood L and Metra tracks on Wilson Avenue. Dimly lit, with mellow background music that doesn't stifle conversation, this intimate single-room storefront offers a large selection of mostly classic, straightforward Italian food in a casual setting.
The extensive dinner menu includes all the usual suspects: traditional antipasti, risotto, plenty of pasta options, and a nice range of chicken, meat and seafood. Options also include such less conventional fare as Salmone Portofino (salmon sautéed with balsamic vinegar and honey-garnished with pine nuts and green onions). Entrees can be a bit expensive, but most are in the doable $14-$18 range. The portions are quite generous and all come with your choice of soup or salad. Expect to take home tomorrow's lunch with you. If you still have room, the dessert offerings, like the rest of the menu, are standard but well done.
Caro Mio is BYOB, so it can be a low-budget evening if you're drinking. Note: BYO does not extend to the outside. Reservations are accepted only for parties of 6 or more, though are rarely needed. Sidewalk seating is available in warmer weather; expect some noise from the consistent Wilson traffic, the L and the occasional Metra train. Caro Mio also serves lunch on weekdays, offering a respectable subset of their dinner menu along with some tasty panninis.
Even though the food is sometimes a bit saltier and heavier than some may like, it is better than most could come up with at home. Italian for "My Dear," Caro Mio is a fine, though not spectacular, choice for a meal with the Dear in your life or for a lower-key outing with friends, and overall, it's one of Chicago's better Italian BYOB restaurants.
Average cost: $10-$20