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Restaurants & Bars 8

Strega No-no

JeffB | Aug 3, 2002 02:48 PM

Not that anyone whose opinion I value ever said it was any good, but just in case you find yourself on Southport and hungry, unable to get into Tango Sur or Cullen's, not looking for Asian and not willing to spend the cash on Otro Mas or Deleece (and not able to eat sandwiches in a bar like the Long Room), resist any urge to go to the aforementioned establishment. I wanted to give SN a second shot because I was at its parent restaurant Carlucci in Rosemont recently and found their osso buco prepared in the classic style with risotto Milanese to be very strong. I also have good memories of the original location on Halsted. Finally, Pat Bruno recently touted the place, although he would give two stars to anything claiming to be Italian. Anyway, based on the good risotto and meat at Carlucci, I ordered the "house special" grilled pork chop w/ "wild mushroom" risotto for $17. Not big money, but not too shabby for this 'hood. Service and atmosphere were fine. But my meal was one tough little chop drowning in .75" of water from the "risotto" that had the consistency of overcooked Uncle Bens with the water potion of the recipe tripled. The button mushrooms could have been wild, I suppose. Clearly, SN is cooking a batch of long grain rice (not arborio, calasparra, etc.) and adding ingedients and broth depending on the order. (Seafood risotto was an option.) Needless to say, I sent it back. The server, who was perfectly professional, did not seem interested in hearing why. Risotto is one of those things that tests a kitchen. It's simple, yet it takes some technique, some diligence, and requires quality ingredients. Strega Nona should make it correctly or 86 it. The pasta replacement was ok, not great.

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