Cheese, wine and swine may not form the base of the food pyramid, but at The Purple Pig, they are exalted as the Holy Trinity of dining, comprising the core of a Mediterranean-minded small plates menu. So unless you're a lactose intolerant, teetotaling vegetarian, you're bound to find something to love here.
Craving pork? Looking to escape your quotidian life with an Anthony Bourdain-esque food adventure? Try any of the following: braised pig's tails that fall apart in your mouth; fried strips of pig's ears that get coated in fried egg for an umami explosion; bread smothered in roasted bone marrow -- yes, bone marrow -- with herbs.
Other highlights include the fried mussels, roasted beets with goat cheese and pistachios and an extensive, but accessible, wine list. If you save room for dessert, you can enjoy a Sicilian Iris (fried brioche stuffed with chocolate chip ricotta) or a bowl of farra and ricotta cheese with chocolate sauce -- basically sophisticated versions of a doughnut and rice pudding, respectively.
To create the ideal place to sit back, pig out and guzzle wine with friends, the owners (the same people behind Francesca's and Heaven on Seven) chose a decor that is refined, but rustic. Warm-colored walls and rich wood finishes provide the backdrop for an array of pig portraiture and paraphernalia. A long wooden table seats about a dozen family-style.
Despite the homey atmosphere, you'll have to wait to be seated. The Purple Pig is smack dab in the heart of the Mag Mile and tourists and yuppies line up here like, well, pigs at the trough.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Amanda Nyren