A Quick Word:
My friend and I were starving... and coming in late Friday night, reservations are just hard to come by. Times like this is when I turn to Tuscany. This Italian restaurant has been around for quite some time, allowing the hype to decrease, but the food quality to remain wonderful. Located near the UIC area, the location isn't the greatest, especially if you are wanting to stay in the downtown proper. But once you arrive, you will see a beautifully decorated restaurant with a very relaxed feel. The atmosphere is fun, but it always seem a little loud for my liking. You will also notice that the waiters try to rush you through dinner. I remember them stalking our table several times trying to see if we were done eating despite having just received our entrees 8-10 minutes earlier. The wine selection is extensive, but the prices are definitely steep. Those expensive prices extend to their menu with most of their dishes ranging in the upper teens to low twenties. For a student, those prices are difficult to take in. Because of the atmosphere and price, I had to knock the rating. The food is easily 4 mile quality, if not higher, but I decided to give them a 3.5 mile rating mainly for the service/prices... This restaurant is similar to city restaurants like Osteria Via Stato, but not quite at the level of the neighborhoring Davanti Enoteca.
What We Ate:
Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil
Rather than the typical olive oil and Parmesan cheese, Tuscany gives a little something special for their pre-dinner carbohydrate craving. A small basket with a variety of bread arrives along macerated roasted garlic cloves and their house olive oil. I absolutely love the roasted garlic flavor. I do suggest adding a little extra olive oil otherwise it may be a too strong for some. Probably not the ideal dish to eat while on a date though.
My friend and I were starving so we decided to share a caprese salad to hold us over until our entrees arrived. Their caprese is made with thick cut heirloom tomatoes, fresh bufala mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and a drizzle of both pesto and balsamic vinegar. The dish comes with three of these stacked on top of each other. The tomatoes were some of the freshest I had tasted in a while and they were so thick and juicy that they could actually quench a thirst. The cheese was creamy and paired well with their pesto. I do wish the added a little extra balsamic reduction because the sweetness from the reduction complimented everything well.
Ravioli alla Perra
Without fail, I order this exact same entree every time I step foot into Tuscany. The pear ravioli consists of easily a 15+ piece of ravioli, each stuffed with cheese and finely diced pears. Then the same ingredients are left on a larger scale and surround each of the raviolis. Those ingredients include roasted pears, parmigiana cheese, toasted pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, and mascarpone cream. There are many reasons why I stick with the dish... the first being the contrasting sweet and savory flavor. The pear and sun dried tomatoes have a pleasant sugariness to them, which pair quite well the sharpness of traditional Italian cheeses. The second reason I love the dish is because of the textures. The toasted pine nuts at both a gritty and crunchy texture which offsets the rich-creaminess of the dish. And finally, the size of the meal is beyond generous. I always end up taking over half the dish home and trust me, it is just as delicious re-heated.
Gnocchi Bietola e Funghi
My friend ordered this dish more on a whim rather than what she truly wanted. Her first choice, the airline chicken special, was sold out for the night... so gnocchi it was. Tuscany's gnocchi dish is a little different than most places. Here, they make swiss chard potato dumplings and add both gorganzola cheese and caramelized mushrooms to the dish. It is all tossed in a sage-brown butter sauce, which can be substituted for a marinara upon request. The swiss chard gives the gnocchi a characteristic green color, but honestly doesn't add much flavor. Most of the flavor comes from the rich buttery sauce, the heavy sage accompaniment, and of course those cheesy mushrooms. The gorgonzola helps to distract from how much butter actually covers the dish. At the restaurant, it was delicious, but reheating this dish gave me more of a nauseating feeling than a satisfying one.
- Valet Parking is available and at a very reasonable $6 fee.
- I wouldn't eat outdoors here. The area isn't that nice and their outdoor seating is right up against busy Taylor Street.