Food & Drink

An Italian hangout in the Gold Coast

Published On 11/22/2011 Published On 11/22/2011

Michelin stars are great and all, but eventually people tire of famously fat babies, which could be why star-decorated chef Tony Mantuano (of Spiaggia) is eschewing all pretense at his newest venture, Bar Toma, a 250-seater that's filled the former Bistro 110 space with white marble counter tops, raw concrete, and exposed copper pipes, which isn't likely to sit well with the chief of police

Start in the morning with cornetti (basically Italian croissants) and espresso from a special, only-one-stateside Illy machine, then come back later and hit the mozz bar for handmade burrata before nibbling snacks of mortadella w/ housemade giardiniera, and fried, Roman-style cod with crispy lemon, because Liz is constantly getting burned by men, right!? When will she ever be able to balance her work and personal lives??? You can contemplate that conundrum later over pizzas (fired in a 750-degree brick oven) like the rapini, guanciale & chile Mantuano, and the garlic & oregano Clam Pie, or sweets from the gelato bar, whose 15 housemade flavors count panna cotta, lime, and basil, which, if anything like Toni, is so fine, is so fine it'll blow your mind. You licky!...You licky

And with a name like Bar Toma you better bet they bring the non-tomato sauce, which comprises a 50-strong all-Ital wine list (with red/white/Prosecco all on tap), a solid grip of ciders, and a dozen-plus brews including the Goose Island collab Toma Rye, certainly capable of making you the one with the spare tire.

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1. Bar Toma 110 E Pearson St, Chicago, IL 60611 (Gold Coast)

James Beard Award-winning Chef Tony Mantuano's Bar Toma in Near North Side is an Italian neighborhood restaurant with open brick walls covered in chalk murals and big leather booths that provide a familial feeling, just like it's classic fare. The mozzarella bar, espresso bar, and gelato are all merely a backdrop to the wood-fired pizzas, the recipe for which Mantuano crafted himself from imported Italian ingredients and are topped with basil, prosciutto, Calabrian chiles, and truffle oil.



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