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Balena

1633 N. Halsted St. (North Ave.) Send to Phone
312-867-3888 | Make Restaurant Reservations | Menu
A dream team takes the theater district and city by storm with honest, Italian-inspired eats.
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Local Deals: 120 * 90

Cuisine
Open
Dinner nightly
Features
  • Valet parking
  • Dress code: Casual dressy
  • Full bar
  • Reservations suggested

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Dining room at Balena, Chicago, IL

Balena Restaurant Review

: There’s a lot of cred behind this carb-centric spot. Chef Chris Pandel (The Bristol) works wonders in the kitchen. Peter Becker (The Peninsula Chicago, Charlie Trotter’s) handles the breads. It’s backed by Boka Restaurant Group. And from start to finish, it’s one of the most exciting restaurants the city has seen in some time. You can choose cured meats, cheeses and bread to start, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But beauty also lies in unfussy starters, like wild arugula salad with pine nuts and Dante cheese. The pizzas have chewy, glistening crusts, ours topped with mozzarella, spicy sausage, tomato and red onions. And the pastas? There isn’t a miss. We like the hearty rigatoni with meaty, full-of-depth pork ragù. Rotisserie, oven and grill-turned items don’t disappoint either, as in Cornish game hen with pinenut dressing and braised greens. Desserts are reason alone to go, especially when you order composed sundaes, such as pistachio gelato with burnt orange caramel, pistachio nougat and confit orange. The cocktail program emphasizes Amari (bitters) and was designed by mixologist extraordinaire Debbi Peek. Small format beers and a thoughtful wine list round things out.

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