Cute spaniel eats burger sitting at table in cafe

Restaurant Review: A Menu for Man and Beast at River North’s Siena Tavern

Cute spaniel eats burger sitting at table in cafe

I have two dogs, and I’m always looking for places we can go and take them along. In the summer, we’re very lucky to have so many restaurants in Chicago that allow man’s (and woman’s) best friends on their patios. 

While restaurants often have bowls of water and treats set out for dogs (I’m looking at you, Lakeview!) it’s much more rare to find a restaurant that serves its own menu created especially for dogs.

Imagine my surprise to run across River North’s Siena Tavern, whose Puppy Ciaomenu complements their upscale Italian fare in a 10,000 square foot hybrid of “a rustic Italian market, a fine dining restaurant, and a modern, industrial tavern, bridging old world comfort and  the approachable menu ranging from antipasti, pizzas and mozzarellas to fresh pastas, entrees and desserts,“ as their website says.

The brainchild of Top Chef: Season 5 fan favorite, Fabio Viviani, the restaurant espouses a “farm to fork” take on Italian specialties, including Neapolitan pies, homemade pastas, and even a mozzarella bar.

Dog parents can start with specialties such as a Burrata, made with tomato jam and basil oil. Or, their gluten-free Grilled Octopus, served with heirloom fingerling potatoes, red chilies, celery-chimichurri, and aged balsamic. Viviani kicks it up a notch with a Waygu Beef Meatball, served with roasted tomato sauce and bellwether ricotta cheese. 

Pastas are made from scratch daily, and gluten-free pastas are available. Don’t miss the Squid Ink Linguine, with grilled lobster tail and spicy lobster cream. Reviewers have also raved about their Rigatoni Alla Vodka, made with Parmesan, burrata, and bread crumbs. 

An entrée such as Brick Chicken Diavolo is served with sticky parmesan potatoes, arugula, blistered grape tomatoes, red onion, shaved parmesan, and grilled lemon. Roasted Salmon is paired with artichoke, fava bean, charred cebolita onion, aranci, and mint. 

As we say here, (only when warranted,) leave room for dessert! Sorbettos deserve a mention with flavors like Strawberry Prosecco, Malted Milk Chocolate, S’mores and Salted Caramel.

Puppy Ciao for Fido

A portion of the proceeds from their Puppy Ciao menu benefits PAWS Chicago. Dinner or brunch starts with a simply grilled choice of Chicken Breast or Burger Patty.  Both are coated in extra-virgin olive oil. Their Doggy Desserts include Woof-Cream, Dairy Free Gelato, a Doggy Doughnut, and Pawsibly the Best Sundae Ever! 

Google reviewers were laudatory:

“Started off with bourbon and the grilled octopus and never have I been served it this way, but it was a great mix of flavors and would order again, but I’m sure they switch it up, as a good restaurant would. I don’t see it on the current menu anymore, but they had what was called, “carbonara in a jar,” and yes it came to us in a jar and our server prepared it for us. I’ve never seen it and I kind of like it, but besides that point it was hot and quite delicious. A little showmanship is always fun, plus great octopus and pasta, yes please.”

“Had a wonderful time at Siena Tavern. Taylor our waitress was wonderful, insightful and very helpful. She asked about allergies which was a plus. Also her recommendations were spot on. The atmosphere was awesome and the food delicious, serving sizes enough for 2 or 3 to share. We are big fans of Top Chef and Fabio was one of our favorite chefs, that is why I chose this place, but after visiting the restaurant Taylor made it more appealing, and well worth our visit.”

Siena Tavern is located at 51 W. Kinzie Street, and is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Their hours are Monday-Wednesday, 11:30am –11:30pm, Thursday, 11:30am–12am, Friday, 11:30am–2am, Saturday, 10am-2am, and Sunday, 10am-11:30pm. For reservations, click here. 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago