Separated from the adjacent Goodman Theatre by a glass door, Petterino’s is unique among pre-theatre dinner choices thanks to its proximity to both the theatre and parking.
The clubby, 40’s-style atmosphere and décor reminds me of an upscale supper club, something like the old Pump Room at the Ambassador East in River North. It’s the place to “see and be seen,“ while trying to identify the caricatures of famous people lining virtually every coral-toned wall who have dined there before… actors, politicians, etc. The caricatures are also a great conversation-starter if you happen to be lacking conversation topics with dinner (or lunch, or brunch) companions.
My ride-or-die and I recently went to Petterino’s before seeing the magnificent ‘Tommy The Musical ‘ next door. On a busy Sunday evening, with no reservation, we were seated within five minutes.
While Petterino’s is known for “steak, seafood & other Italian-esque American eats, in a swanky setting,“ my friend and I chose slightly different options from the usual pasta experience. My friend chose the Randolph Street Cheeseburger, a chuck and brisket blend with iceberg lettuce, beefsteak tomato red onion, and cheddar cheese on a brioche bun, served with their crispy, seasoned French fries (more than enough for two, I might add). On the specials list that day was an intriguing Warm Calamari and Crab Salad. When our waiter first presented it, I thought “This looks so small for $19!” But I was wrong… the layered salad unfolded on my plate to reveal a surprisingly good, sweet lemon-horseradish dressing, which clung to a summer mix of greens, large, chewy chunks of calamari, crab, red onion, and other crunchy vegetable delights. One slight discrepancy: the salad wasn’t so much warm as it was not cold. Room temperature would be a better description. That said, I enjoyed the salad for what it was, and it certainly proved much more filling than I originally thought. And the dressing was sweeter than I expected, and just about took the place of dessert for me.
My friend’s burger was so large and meaty, and stacked with so many condiments, it was a meal on a brioche bun!
We washed it all down with a couple of Arnold Palmer’s… half iced tea, half lemonade. We could taste both, so it was well-blended.
I will say that they are used to serving theatre-goers. When I told our waiter we had to be next door before 7:30pm, we had our food at 6:34pm and were out the door by 7:10pm.
That said, I wonder if we missed a couple of steps. Other reviews, like this one from Google, mentioned a bread basket? Never saw one. But maybe it only comes with pasta:
“One of the best Italian pastas I’ve had. We got the rigatoni vodka and bolognese. The bolognese was my favorite. Also free bread that was warm and delicious. The decoration and service was also really good. Never had to ask for a refill. One of my favorites in Chicago.”
Pastas, of course, are the draw here. Made fresh every day, Spaghetti E Polpette pairs spaghetti and prime beef meatballs with marinara sauce. Ravioli is made with imported burrata, pomodoro sauce, parmesan and basil. Fettuccine Alfredo is made with creamy besciamella and house- made fettucine pasta.
But do try their pizzas! Margarita Pizza is just a little bit spicy with chili flakes, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato, and pomodoro.
Petterino’s is located at 150 N. Dearborn Street. They are open Sunday and Monday, 11am-8pm, Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-9pm, and Friday and Saturday, 11am-10pm. And just a note about parking: A discounted $18 rate is available with validation at the Theatre District Self-Park Garage, 181 N. Dearborn. Other special rates for valet parking are also available. Check their website for details. For reservations, click here.
Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago