Lincoln Park has a bevy of Italian restaurants, so why go to Tarantino's, you ask? Because of the polenta fries, that's why. They're just one of the unique, gourmet menu items that invite rather than intimidate.
From its classically simple wine bar to the exposed brick walls decorated with endless bottles, to the soft lighting that infuses a comfortable, relaxed mood throughout the dining area, Tarantino's offers patrons a little slice of Italy. Deep reds and purples color the dramatic curtains that drape the windows, through which you can see the outdoor patio—complete with fresh flowers and big umbrellas. You'll also find decorative Italian art hanging between the windows. Regulars both young and old flock here and you might see a family every now and then. This place is ideal for dates or taking some friends out for a casual dinner. The food, however, is anything but casual. Though the menu is on the smaller side, each dish is a pure delight and prepared with the most authentic Italian ingredients this side of the Atlantic.
Before you order, tickle your taste buds with the complimentary hot, fresh bread served with roasted, pureed eggplant. Hot and cold appetizers fill about half of the menu, starting at nine bucks and topping out at $13. The pizzas are particularly appetizing—like the prosciutto and pepperoncini with fresh mozzarella and arugula ($12). Balance the spicy pie with the polenta fries ($6), which are dusted with mozzarella and served with fresh marinara. Have some seafood like the calamari (fried or grilled) or parmesan stuffed shrimp, or cool off with one of the seven different salads. Move on to a pasta dish (about $18) or one of seven main courses, like a mustard-crusted rack of lamb, for $19-$28.
For only six dollars, Tarantino's also features eight different sides like rosemary whipped potatoes, truffle fries or asparagus. Pair everything with a glass of wine from the extensive collection.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: John Kristoff