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1633 N. Halsted St. (North Ave.) Send to Phone
312-867-3888 | Make Restaurant Reservations | Order Now! | Menu
Chef Chris Pandel focuses on authentic Italian-inspired cuisine at this Boka Restaurant Group favorite.
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Local Deals: 120 * 90

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

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Balena, Chicago, IL

Balena Restaurant Review

: With Chris Pandel (The Bristol) in the kitchen and Peter Becker (The Peninsula Chicago, Charlie Trotter’s) handling the bread, this Boka Restaurant Group gem across from the Steppenwolf Theatre in Lincoln Park attracts regulars and destination diners from near and far. Choose among various house-made cured meats, cheeses and bread to start. Then move on to unfussy starters like wild arugula salad with pine nuts and Dante cheese. Pizzas have chewy, glistening crusts and simple but high-quality toppings like whole milk mozzarella, spicy sausage, fresh tomato and red onions. Among pastas, a hearty rigatoni with meaty pork ragù doesn’t fail, and the rotisserie oven cooks standout protein-centric entrées like Cornish game hen with braised greens. Desserts change by the season --- and pastry chef on hand --- but look for composed sundaes of 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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