Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Sugar & Spice: Ombra
DISH Weekly Dining Guide in Windy City Times: REVIEW
by Meghan Streit
2012-04-04

This article shared 3613 times since Wed Apr 4, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


\A small corner of Andersonville's Acre has been transformed into a bustling new spot for Italian small plates. You might miss Ombra if you were strolling down Clark Street because the exterior remains the same muted gray color as Acre. The inside, however, has undergone a serious makeover.

The tiny and inviting space is made even cozier with polished wooden beams, walls covered in yellowed Italian newspaper and long booths where you might end up dining with strangers who could turn into new friends. You'll immediately be drawn to Ombra's handsome bar, which is stocked not with alcohol but with Italian delicacies like smoked trout, roasted Portobello mushrooms and calamari with Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Those bites, along with about 25 other Italian appetizers called cicchetti (pronounced chi-KET-ee), are all displayed in a case for diners to pick and choose the ones they want to try. It's kind of like a less-sugary candy store for adults—with wine!

Ombra, my knowledgeable server told me, refers to the first glass of wine, meant to be enjoyed with a couple of rounds of cicchetti, a casual tapas-style of dining popular in Venice. So, peruse the cicchetti bar on your way to your table to get an idea of what you'd like to sample, and then get down to the business of selecting a glass of wine. Ombra has a robust wine list of mostly Italian reds and whites, available for $8 to $10 a glass. I chose the Barbera D'asti Moliss, a fruity but not sweet red from the Piedmont region of Italy, and it paired nicely with all of my cicchetti choices.

Ombra's cicchetti list is so long, deciding what to order can be a little overwhelming. There's a "chef's value" option for $15, which gets you a sample platter of five items. I went that route and my entire group was pleased with all of the selections that quickly appeared on our table. Our first cicchetti platter had a cold salad with farro (an Italian grain similar to couscous) and asparagus, potato salad with rosemary and sun-dried tomatoes, some smoked trout, a slice of asparagus frittata and buffalo mozzarella drizzled with basil pesto. The cicchetti platter won't fill you, but it will whet your appetite and give you something to nibble on while you sip your wine and peruse the rest of the menu.

You'll find plenty of more substantial offerings, including paninis, bruschette, tramezzini, cold white-bread sandwiches that are similar to English tea sandwiches, and a few hot entrée-like small plates. All of the dishes are meant for sharing, and Ombra is designed for lingering and savoring: Have a few bites, savor the flavors, drink some wine, talk for a bit, try something you've never eaten before, drink some more wine, chat while you nibble on some cheese, order another round of small plates, drink some more wine. Repeat until you're pleasantly full and completely relaxed (and possibly a little tipsy).

I enjoyed nearly everything I ate at Ombra, but there were definitely a few dishes that stood out. (Hint: Order these.) The simple formaggi was my favorite of the panini choices. It's gooey Parmigiano, Asiago, Fontina and roasted garlic melted between two crisp slices of olive oil-soaked bread—what's not to love? The other panini options sound more interesting on the menu—there's one with mushrooms, Fontina and truffled aioli and another with lamb sausage, goat cheese and spicy sun-dried pesto. Both were delicious, but the formaggi was the one that really hit the spot.

I would not advise leaving Ombra without trying a platter of cured meats and Italian cheeses. You can select as many or as few as you'd like for $5 to $8 each. The platters come with crostinis, as well as spicy mustard and sweet jam so you can build your own perfect bite. My picks for the perfect platter: prosciutto, sopressa (Italian salami), Taleggio (Italy's version of Brie), pecorino and Robiola, a pungent soft white cheese.

The beef shortribs were a favorite among my group of dining companions. The juicy meat is served atop a flavorful polenta cake with a side of wilted greens. However, my top pick from among the heartier items was the polenta "lasagna." Marinated mushrooms are stuffed between thin slabs of polenta and the savory stack is topped with a thick layer of cheese baked so perfectly golden brown that it almost forms a bready crust.

Since you're lingering, as you surely will be at Ombra, go ahead and order a few sweet treats to round out your leisurely Italian feast. Tiramisu is always a reliable option, and Ombra's version is quite good. But, if you only want to spend your dessert calories on one item, opt for the far more memorable Nutella panino. Obviously, Nutella is delicious when eaten directly from the jar with a spoon. So, when you fry it with bananas on crisp Italian bread, the result is, in a word, spectacular.

Ombra is located at 5310 N. Clark St.; call 773-506-8600 or visit www.barombra.com .

Do you need some more Sugar & Spice in your life? Follow me on Twitter: @SugarAndSpiceMS—for inside scoop and commentary on Chicago's dining scene.


This article shared 3613 times since Wed Apr 4, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SAVOR The Hen of Lincoln Park
2022-11-20
There are several reasons that The Hen of Lincoln Park (2423 N. Clark St.; https://thehenoflp.com/) is a popular brunch spot. Nested in the heart of—surprise!—Lincoln Park, this casual spot is in a location that draws a ...


Gay News

SAVOR Celebrity Chef Ball; 'Chefsgiving'; Ralph's Coffee
2022-11-18
More than 50 top Chicago chefs—including many Michelin, James Beard, and Bib Gourmand awardees—worked together to create a truly unique experience for supporters of Meals on Wheels Chicago (MoWC). Because of their hard work and the ...


Gay News

SAVOR Tabu
2022-11-06
The West Loop has no shortage of tantalizing brunches to try each weekend. Add Tabu's (401 N. Morgan St.; https://tabuchicago.com/) to the mix. This pan-Latin spot ...


Gay News

SAVOR Matcha Cita
2022-10-31
Just steps from the Morgan stop on the Pink and Green lines is a heavenly place. And if you don't believe this writer about Matcha Cita (1017 W. Lake St., with an additional spot at Studio ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: COVID book, 'Wicked' cocktails, 'A Taste of Hope' and more
2022-10-24
—COVID-19, the LGBTQIA+ Community and Public Policy: As studies emerge to help us understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on every facet of modern life, it is critical that the effect of the pandemic on ...


Gay News

BOOKS Lesbian co-author discusses 'No More Police: A Case for Abolition'
2022-10-18
"We don't need all the answers to start down the road toward where we want to go: a world where everyone has safety, food, clean water, shelter, education, health, art, beauty, and rest."—No More Police: A ...


Gay News

SAVOR Plant-based spot Planta Queen
2022-10-07
I will admit it: I was skeptical about dining at the River North spot Planta Queen (413 N. Clark St.; https://www.plantarestaurants.com/location/planta-chicago/). Although I do love my meat, I have occasionally ...


Gay News

SAVOR Hundreds attend Chicago Gourmet
2022-09-30
Hundreds of people attended this year's Chicago Gourmet, one of the nation's most distinguished culinary festivals. Founding partner Illinois Restaurant Association, along with presenting sponsor Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits ...


Gay News

SAVOR Latin Restaurant Weeks running Sept. 16-30
2022-09-14
Latin Restaurant Weeks (LRW) will take place Sept. 16-30 in various cities, including Chicago. Illinois has the nation's fifth-largest Hispanic population; Chicago has more than 29% of people who identify as Hispanic. LRW partners with Hispani ...


Gay News

SAVOR Fogo de Chao; chef fundraisers
2022-09-12
Brazilian steakhouses utilize that all-too-familiar U.S. restaurant theme: Eat until you can't consume any more. Fogo de Chao—roughly meaning "ground fire," a reference to the gaucho method of roasting meats over an open fire—is one of ...


Gay News

SAVOR Indian gastropub Bar Goa
2022-08-29
The Indian state of Goa is known for many things, including tourism. Water-sport enthusiasts and partygoers often visit the area, partaking in activities such as jet-skiing, surfing, marveling at the wonders in the National Institute of ...


Gay News

Chicago Fire FC, Dawn to host Aug. 31 volunteer community event at Greater Chicago Food Depository
2022-08-25
-- From a press release - CHICAGO (August 25, 2022) — Chicago Fire FC will host a volunteer event, alongside dish-liquid company Dawn® at the Greater Chicago Food Depository Club on Wed., Aug. 31, at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, 4100 W. ...


Gay News

SAVOR Whiskey distillery Judson & Moore
2022-08-20
Along the north side of the Chicago River—in the event space known as Rockwell on the River—sits Judson & Moore (3057 N. Rockwell St.; https://judsonandmoore.com/)—a whiskey distillery full of welcoming ...


Gay News

STAYCATION REVIEW Sofitel Chicago
2022-08-17
Bonjour! If you're like me, you've walked past the Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile (20 E. Chestnut St.; https://www.sofitel-chicago.com/) a million times. You've probably also admired the hotel's unique architecture almost ...


Gay News

Taste of Greektown festival returns to Chicago Aug. 26-28
2022-08-14
-- From a press release - CHICAGO—Greektown Chicago's Taste of Greektown festival returns for its 32nd year this summer with the city's largest celebration of Hellenic cuisine and culture on Friday-Sunday, Aug. 26-28 along Halsted Street from Adams to Van Buren. The ...


 




Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.