Tuscany's cheerful decor, delightful service and casual atmosphere make it an excellent choice for post-work dinner, quiet conversation or a simple meal that will satisfy everyone in a group, from the gourmand to the picky chain-restaurant fan. Tuscany's yellow walls feature painted street scenes of its namesake, the Italian region famous for its breads and wines and its subdued lighting gives it a homey feel, as do the paper-topped tables. The black-clad staff refills glasses often, keeps the bread basket filled and even crushes the roasted garlic that accompanies the basket.
Tuscany draws a sedate crowd of neighborhood folks looking for a place to enjoy good, solid food without having to shout over the rest of the restaurant. Its spacious dining room and moderately priced menu means that Tuscany is a safe bet for groups: Call ahead and see if you can book the private dining room on the second floor.
The food offers a lively take on Italian pastas, pizzas and entrees. Try the pear ravioli or the rigatoni with goat cheese and walnuts. Both offer sweet, modern twists on classic Italian restaurant standbys.
While its cheery, bright atmosphere may not turn Tuscany into a romantic hotspot, it can be a fine place for a blind or first date. It may be a safe choice, but it's a choice that will allow you to actually hear what your date has to say. And if things go badly, at least you'll go home with a belly full of delicious food. Tuscany also has three additional locations in Oakbrook, in Wheeling and on Clark Street in Wrigleyville.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Stephanie Kuenn