The gorgeous patio at Piccolo Sogno makes it a worthwhile visit for lunch or dinner, if not for the excellent food. The patio at Piccolo Sogno is arguably one of the top alfresco dining spots in Chicago during the summer especially when it consistently gets voted for best patio dining among the Chicago dining media. The charming patio is filled with summer flowers and shady trees. Green leaves are in abundance and they set the perfect mood for lovely summer day or evening with Italian food and wine. The flowers in the patio change constantly throughout the summer which makes it a nice view treat if one was there more than once in summer. When we were there in June, fully blossomed hydrangeas in rich white and blue set the tone at the patio. We returned again in July and were greeted with tall ornamental grasses.
A daily special that is not on the menu is the antipasti platter which is something that we cannot we do without every time we are at Piccolo Sogno. The wide array of antipasti are laid out and displayed on a table located right next to the kitchen, but not out of view from the diners. In addition to the platters of grilled vegetables, there is a whole slab of prosciutto sitting on the meat slicer. When a table orders the antipasti platter, the server would pick out each variety of antipasti while placing it on the serving plate so that each order has a little bit of everything. The antipasti platter typically comes with a generous serving of sliced prosciutto, black and green olives, aged cheese, chickpeas, grilled vegetables consisting of asparagus, rutabaga, red peppers, artichokes, shallots, eggplant, and brussel sprouts.
The beef carpaccio that came arugula and shaved aged cheese was a light and somewhat refreshing dish, again perfect for the summer.
Piccolo Sogno offers the option of ordering half a portion of the pasta dishes which really is quite a terrific idea so that we will have more room for other items on the menu. We tried the pappardalle con polpettine which was very delicious and it came with wide egg noodles served with spicy lamb meatballs, pine nuts, golden raisins, eggplant ragu, roasted peppers, and green onions.
We don't frequently see seared ahi tuna at Italian restaurants but Piccolo Sogno clearly went beyond what expectations for this dish. The ahi tuna was perfectly rare inside and very tender, served on a bed of green peas and artichokes.
It is very telling about how Piccolo Sogno's rustic food is very much appreciated from the fact that the tables are always filled at anytime during the evenings. Even when summer has come to pass and the patio is closed for the season, the dining room is never empty throughout the year. Advanced reservations are recommended for this local gem.
We just sat back and relaxed, enjoying the warm and breezy summer evening with white wine and very good Italian food. Those are good times in summer.
464 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60642
2011 Best Alfresco Dining, Chicago Reader
2010 TimeOut Best Urban Oasis Award
2009 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence
2009 TimeOut Best Urban Oasis Award