In the heart of Chicago’s River North neighborhood is one of the city’s best eateries with a Chef whose personality is as big and welcoming as his restaurant’s reputation. Locals and tourists alike agree that the dishes that roll out of the Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar kitchen offer some of the most authentic Italian food this side of the Atlantic. And that is something to be said in a city where Italian food is king!
For Chef John Coletta and his crew, it is all about the ingredients. Their seasonal menus highlight the best finds and their focus is on enhancing the natural beauty and flavor of the individual ingredients instead of hiding behind fancy sauces and preparations. As Chef Coletta perfectly puts it, “We are reliant on the integrity of the ingredient. (Our dishes) allow the product to stand on its own.”
The shaved vegetable salad at Quartino is simply dressed with lemon juice and ahh-mazing and authentic Italian extra-virgin olive oil. Bite after bite, the bright, crisp flavors of the vegetables shine through without being overwhelmed, because, after all, a good salad should be about the vegetables and not the dressing.
Although Italian food and gluten have always gone together like Rogers and Astaire (Fred and Ginger) or PB&J, Chef Coletta has worked hard to ensure that everyone can get a true taste of Italy regardless of dietary restrictions. His menu features an extensive selection of gluten-free items that are prepared in the restaurant’s signature style. There is even a wide array of menu items to meet the needs of your vegetarian and vegan friends and family, and with family-style portions there is sure to be enough to go around.
The restaurant also offers an amazing selection of wines by the glass. From light whites and sparkling wines to full-bodied reds, there is a wine for every palate and plate. They also feature several specialty cocktails, including house-made Bellini and Sangrias. For those interested in staying away from adult beverages, the restaurant also offers a huge selection of Italian sodas made to order.
“The table is a meeting place. If you want to learn about the culture of an area, spend time at the table.”
Quartino begins serving lunch at 11:30 am and they offer a fantastic three-course meal for only $25 a person. Their dinner service goes into the wee hours of the night with the kitchen staff pushing out pizzas until 2:00 am on Saturday nights. What better way to finish a night downtown than with a fresh, hot, authentic margharita pizza…and maybe another glass of wine!
Chef John Coletta
Chef John Coletta is the personality behind the success of Quartino Ristorante in Old Town Chicago. As an Italian New York native, his love and passion for food began at an early age. Chef Coletta’s first foray in the Chicago food scene was in 1987 when he was brought in to open the Fairmont Hotel. Since then, he has successfully set up restaurants throughout the United States, Europe and Asia before making his way back to Chicago to set up shop. He is funny, with impeccable comedic timing and maintains a relaxed demeanor, even when the pressure is on and the kitchen is hot. He is the type of chef that can keep you entertained, whether he is talking about a cooking technique or retelling a funny story about his many restaurant experiences. It is this passion for what he does that makes the dining experience at Quartino truly one-of-a-kind.
Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar
626 North State Street
Chicago, Illinois 60654