Leaving a restaurant hungry after paying a hefty price for what you were hoping would be a good meal has to be one of the more miserable disappointments of life. And if you think there's no better feeling than leaving stuffed and with wallet that's only minisculely shrunk, Teena Mia is your place.
Located in the West Loop just between the south branch of the Chicago River and the Kennedy Expressway, Teena Mia has dug out an inviting little hole for itself in an area with few commercial spots. The site was formerly some sort of water testing plant, and owner Jerry Carrao made an effort to keep the historic character of the building. What resulted is an exposed brick interior, an intricately designed copper ceiling and a few more modern paintings of Italian canals and countryside.
Teena Mia's menu offers few surprises for a casual Italian restaurant, with the obligatory veal marsala, fettuccini alfredo and pasta primavera all making appearances. Try the eggplant parmigiana, a marvelous version of the usual dish with thinly sliced eggplant that's breaded (unlike the inferior preparation of dipping in egg then flour). Carrao ensures that you don't leave without a doggy bag by making portions humongous: a slice of pizza is a quarter of a 16-inch pie and all pasta entrees entail a half pound of the Atkins-reviled carb. Before 5 p.m., order at the counter and wait for your food to come to your table; after 5 p.m., cart in a bottle of wine (it's BYOB), sit down and the wait staff will attentively take your order.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Laura Brown