So you start thinking you're going to be posting in one thread, and you wind up posting in another. The talk about moderately priced Italian inspired me to go check out a couple of places I'd been thinking of checking out forever; because of where I'd happen to be with my kids this evening, the place that came to mind was Finestra, the allegedly snazzier place owned by and next to comfy old Calo in Andersonville (5300 something north Clark).
Well, I get there, kids in hand in the flurries of snow, and... Finestra is dark. Next door they say it's closed for "maintenance"; I'm not sure if that's for real or if that's like the kind of closing for "redecorating" that you never reopen from. So suddenly I am forced to go be in the Italian time warp thread instead, and actually eat at Calo, a place I've only ordered delivery pizza from. And of course, all I can think of is... the guy who had one of the worst meals of his life at Italian Village.
Well, it was certainly better than that, even though the crowd was old enough for The Village and the rough-hewn interior didn't even really seem like a Chicago restaurant-- more like the one Italian restaurant in a Wisconsin resort town, or something like that. Actually, although the minestrone (which I got, by the way, after asking for salad) was ordinary and the veal marsala was tasty and tender but deeply, deeply old school, I was pleasantly surprised by the gnocchi. They were a little heavier than the feathery ones at, say, A Tavola, but the "tomato cream basil" sauce (they left out its other main ingredient, abundant pepper flakes that should have earned it a term like "diavolo") would have done any trendier place proud. Actually, it may well have been better than the sauce I've had on gnocchi elsewhere-- for some reason gnocchi always seem to end up with the simplest kind of marinara sauce, but this had chunks of semi-caramelized onions too which might have struck many a chef as excess but seemed just fine by me. I'm looking forward to finishing the rest of them tomorrow.