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North Side Review: Anteprima

By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on Sep 6, 2007 6:00PM


Anteprima isn't your standard Italian joint, complete with garlic bread, minestrone soup and heaps of pasta drenched in red sauce. Instead of the usual fare, this Andersonville venue offers up dishes that are simultaneously traditional and modern, simple and complicated, and even better, every one we tried, perfectly delicious.

2007_9_antiprima1.jpgThe evening started out with a complementary amuse bouche of a zucchini tart; it was tender, and perfectly highlighted the sweet zucchini. For appetizers we ordered the octopus and the veal meatballs. The octopus came served with slivers of potatoes and tossed with a bright vinaigrette that was spotted with chilies and red onions. The texture of the grilled octopus contrasted beautifully with that of the potatoes, and every bite had multiple layers of flavor in it. It was a fun dish to dig in to. In contrast, the veal meatballs leaned more to the traditional side of things. The meatballs arrived at the tables steaming hot, in a saffron tomato sauce. This dish was simple, classic, and fantastic; our one concern was we couldn't taste the veal (as opposed to enjoying a beef meatball). Other appetizers we were intrigued by include the roasted cipolline onions, prosciutto and herbs, and the grilled polenta with rapini.

2007_9_antiprima3.jpg We were feeling pretty full after digging into the octopus, so we decided to skip the entrees and order a half order of the asparagus ravioli in a butter parmigiano sauce. They aren't lying about the butter sauce. A half-order of the dish includes four plump ravioli swimming in a pool of butter and cheese. Which is not to say we didn't enjoy it — what isn't to like about a dish like this? Still, be forewarned that it isn't for the faint of heart.

We also tried the sliced New York strip steak. Chicagist loved the octopus, but this was by far the best thing we ate all night. It was super simple in preparation, served with lemon, rosemary and a perfectly excessive amount of salt. The combination of these four classic ingredients isn't anything new, but for us, it exemplifies what Anteprima does best; create achingly good Italian food with simple, classic ingredients, while never sacrificing originality or flavor.

Our desserts, while still tasty, were less inspired. The lemon berry tart would have benefited from a less-soggy crust and a less intense lemon layer, while the lemon panna cotta could have used more lemon. If the restaurant has a weak spot, this is it.

The service was attentive without being overbearing, and we were especially impressed with our server's knowledge of the only-Italian wine list. She was able to successfully suggest a bottle for us to try that would go with both steak and octopus. We were told there was an outdoor garden we could eat in, but since it was up in the 90s and humid the day we went, we opted for the inside experience. Our only concern about the space, was that the combination of a small room with vintage molded ceilings made the restaurant on the noisier side. The noise was a small price to play, however, for being able to go out for Italian food this delicious.

Anteprima is located at 5316 N Clark St; (773) 506-9990; Sun-Thu: 5:30-10 p.m.,
Fri-Sat: 5:30-11 p.m.