With soft lighting, ornamental tiles and hanging plants, Donatella Mediterranean Bistro is a welcoming destination for a date night or just a dinner with friends.
Although snuggly situated in charming Evanston, Donatella is like any restaurant you might find in Northern Italy, complete with an iron-willed proprietor. Perfectionist owner Donatella Majore keeps tabs on every aspect of her business, from choosing dishware (square, white pieces with a decidedly modern flare) to ushering guests into the small space. She also claims to be the only person who can go table to table, announcing the daily specials.
Although Donatella's original intention for the bistro was to serve small, tapas-style meals, she succumbed to requests for larger portions, and now serves everything from appetizers to entrees to desserts. Prices range from $6 for a dinner salad to $20 for an entree and penny-wise customers can easily put together a whole meal for $30.
While the restaurant focuses on Italian fare, each week a different Mediterranean-facing country is highlighted, perhaps paella one week, another special the next. A BYOB establishment, the bistro works with local Vinic Wine Company, from which customers may order wine for pick-up or even tableside delivery.
The mixed, mostly older crowd dining enjoys everything from fondue Bourguignon, with tender pieces of sirloin, to grilled sea food specials. Dessert options include key lime pie, gelati a la mode, and an intriguing ginger sorbet. Lemon infused water in hefty tumblers ads to the cozy yet chic vibe.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Sarah Terez Rosenblum