Monday, April 22, 2013


Location: 1330 W. Madison St., Chicago, IL 60607
Viaggio Ristorante & Lounge on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:
I always have the hardest time trying to find good Italian food for a reasonable price.  One of my most popular suggestions to others is the Italian restaurant, Viaggio.  This restaurant, with locations in both West Loop and Lincoln Park, is not as mainstream as Rosebud or the Italian Village, but they serve traditional Italian dishes at a fair price.  Upon entering the restaurant, you will find the waiters and waitresses kneeling next to tables taking an extra minute to thoroughly explain the menu.  The staff is very animated, which can be too much on some days, but much appreciated on most.  As I mentioned earlier, the prices are fair... for instance, the eggplant salad is $5 less than the Rosebud option.  I did find the food to be cooked in a simple way, rather than adding too many additional ingredients.  The food here speaks for itself,  but because nothing was that "memorable," I decided on giving them a 4 mile rating.

What We Ate:

Zucchini Fritti

We all decided to share the fried zucchini appetizer.  It was extremely simple... just chopped up zucchini, breaded, and deep fried.  It comes with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.  The breading was a struggling just a little... in fact, it was falling off entirely on some pieces.  The sauce was nothing special.  Just a salty, oily appetizer to start.  Probably wouldn't order again.

Eggplant Stack

I decided to order the eggplant stack as my meal.  Ever since I was introduced to the eggplant salad at Rosebud, I have been hooked.  The stack consists of thinly sliced eggplant that has been lightly breaded and pan fried.  It is stacked with alternating mozzarella slices and vine ripe tomato slices until 3 or 4 layers thick.  The entire stack is topped with an arugula salad.  Unfortunately, unlike the Rosebud version, this one didn't have a balsamic vinegar (or if it did, it was almost non-existent).  Instead, I believe they added a little olive oil and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.  The eggplant was crispy, but the skin was left on pretty thick... leading to a little more bitter, eggplant flavor.  It was also much smaller than the Rosebud version, making it more of an appetizer than a meal.  My biggest suggestion is ADD BALSAMIC VINEGAR... a nice aged balsamic would add the necessary sweetness, tanginess, and overall depth in flavor that the dish lacked. (sorry for blurry picture)

Rigatoni with Sunday Pork Gravy

Two of my friends ended up choosing the rigatoni dish.  And, it was safe, yet delicious.  The rigatoni was cooked to al dente and mixed with a tomato sauce that has been cooked for hours with pork.  It comes with a scoop of fresh ricotta cheese which adds a rich, creaminess to the dish.  Definitely add ricotta cheese to each bite.  Great choice.

Chicken Parmesan

My friend decided on the classic Italian dish... Chicken Parmesan.  This huge portion came with multiple pieces of chicken that was lightly breaded and fried.  It was topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and a San Marzano tomato basil sauce.  The dish came with a the vegetable of the day and also a side of mashed potatoes.  The mashed potatoes threw me off (I wasn't expecting these).  I wasn't able to taste this dish, but it looked tasty.  My friend really enjoyed it so I will take is word.

Chicken-Prosciutto Bow Tie Pasta (Special)

After hearing the word "prosciutto," one of my friends was sold on that night's pasta special.  This bow tie pasta was mixed with a light cream sauce and finished with plenty of prosciutto, chunks of chicken, and asparagus.  I was able to snag a bite of his dish and was immediately greeted with a punch of prosciutto flavor.  Reminiscent of bacon, I knew immediately this dish would be tasty.  The pasta was cooked perfectly and it was a good size for a meal.  Delicious. (sorry for blurry picture)

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- Portion size is incredible.  Maybe appetizers aren't a great idea?
- Parking is free on most side streets off of Madison.  Take a little time to look for one of these spots.  If not, valet parking is available.
- MAKE RESERVATIONS... this place is packed on random weekdays just as much as on weekends.

- Alcohol prices are outrageous.  I think a glass of whiskey on the rocks was $15.00.
- Split charge of $3.00.  Disappointing.

How far would I walk for this food?

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