Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.


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.
Your Opinion
Add your own review

Local Deals: 120 * 90

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

* Click here for rating key

Dining room at 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.

User Ratings & Reviews for Balena
Discover new restaurants in Chicago like mfk.
New Restaurants in Chicago
Find all the Chicago restaurants that have opened recently with GAYOT's round-up.

See What's New in Chicago!


Check out the 2015 edition of GAYOT's Annual Restaurant Issue, which features the Top 40 Restaurants in the US and more.