Shopping on the Mag Mile is a no-brainer, but finding a nearby, non-touristy joint to grab a bite? For that you've got to head about a block east to the Tuscan-yellow Coco Pazzo Cafe, a spin-off of Coco Pazzo
. In a word, the Tuscan and Northern Italian eatery is rustic, with a copper-topped bar backed by a faux-finish, leafy green wall. Above the bar, bottles of wine rest in old-style, wooden racks. Linen tablecloths, wine glasses and candlelight cluster on tabletops.
Chef Eric Hammond turns out a seasonal menu (selections change four times a year) that highlights fresh and simply prepared pasta, seafood, meat and vegetables. A few staple items remain on the menu year-round, so acolytes of the Spaghetti AOP, a dish prepared with tomato sauce, olive oil, garlic and spicy red pepper, need not fear the changing of the guards.
Other menu standbys include the sette vegetali, an insalate featuring seven chopped veggies with shaved parmesan, and the lasagna with meat and bechamel sauce. Entrees (usually in the $14-$24 range) may include Cornish hen roasted under a brick and topped with sage reduction, and a nine-ounce prime sirloin with Tuscan fries and rosemary oil.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg