La Storia Restaurant
La Storia is a charming Italian restaurant in Chicago’s idyllic Gold Coast neighborhood, perfectly situated in an architectural gem of a home. The two-story restaurant, housed within two former family residences — built in 1896 and 1918, respectively — is located at 1154 N. Dearborn. The home has been renovated to reveal ornate details in a cozy environment, and the space has retained much of its original homey touches, such as bay windows and inlaid wood cabinetry.
La Storia features a bar, dining room, two patios and a garden courtyard, and guests instantly feel comfortable upon walking in. The sidewalk patio is inviting — colorful flowering plants, twinkling string lights, and designed so diners can enjoy a meal secluded from the street. Inside, the walls are adorned in famed caricaturist Edward Sorel’s final set of commissioned murals, which depict personalities integral in Chicago history. White linen tablecloths, red chairs, and low lighting make it a romantic spot to enjoy a meal.
My friend and I had an engaging waiter, Ivo, who was enthusiastic about the food and took time to explain the merits of each of his favorite dishes (we asked for his recommendations.) We arrived in time to sample a few cocktails from the happy hour menu, one named “Coming Up Roses,” with hibiscus tea, Aperol, Lillet Rosé and rosé wine, and the other “San Martino,” with bourbon, amaro averna, and Aperol. Both were refreshing and perfect for a warm fall evening.
We also ordered meatballs (made with pork and veal, tomato sauce and toasted pine nuts) and caprese salad (mozzarella di bufala, heirloom tomato, pesto, 8 yr balsamic). Both presentations were beautiful and the food tasted as good as it looked. For dinner, I ordered pappardelle (pork and veal bolognese, parmigiana-reggiano). It seems like homemade pappardelle is on every Italian menu these days, although this one was a stand out. I ordered the smaller portion, which was perfect for a light meal.
One thing worth pointing out is the focaccia bread. It is the best focaccia I’ve ever tasted in Chicago — completely fresh and crave-worthy, making you want more. It’s served with a dollop of soft butter, drizzled with a bit of olive oil. For dessert, our waiter presented us with a flourless chocolate torte (salted caramel mascarpone, hazelnut, candied grapefruit, zabaoine), as a way of expressing his gratitude for us not making a big deal out of the fact that he delivered a menu item my friend didn’t order — he gave her rigatoni, not the ravioli she ordered (innocent mistake.) La Storia is an ideal spot for a top-notch Italian meal, served in an inviting atmosphere with passionate servers. Saluté!