I just ate lunch here again yesterday and I have to say how good it is. As far as I know this place has been tucked away in a little nondescript white building on Skokie Blvd. for a long time. The tiny dining room is done up in a somewhat too cutesy Italian farmhouse style and the menu is written on a whiteboard on the wall. The first time I had lunch there I asked the waitress whether I should get the gnocchi or the linguini with clams; she suggested the linguini because they didn't have it all that often. It was delicious, a big portion but not inhumanly so. My coworker and I split the house salad, which features provolone, salami, red peppers, tomatoes, and artichokes. Yesterday I went for the gnocchi with artichokes, goat cheese and tomato sauce. I wouldn't say I was transported by the gnocchi, but they were light and flavorful, and the roasted artichokes were very well done. Entrees are generally standards like eggplant parmigiana, ravioli, etc (yesterday they had lobster-stuffed ravioli), and vary in price from about $8 to $13.
My coworker hesitated a little too long when the waitress asked about dessert, so after listening to a long list that included cannoli, pear torte, and about six other items, I ended up with a slice of moist banana chocolate-chip cake with fudge and a dollop of whipped cream...mmm. My friend had spumoni, which I didn't try, but it was all gone by the time we left.
Service is always very friendly and attentive. I've always been too busy at work to have a glass of wine, so I don't know what the wine list looks like.
I wouldn't say this is worth driving from the city for, but if you're in the area, it's a great place to stop.
Francesco's Hole in the Wall
254 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook
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