On a perfect mid-August night Chicago Splash Magazine reviewers met long time friends for dinner at Angelo’s in Albany Park. Located at 3026 W. Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-539-0111), it was a great place to meet, coming from Wilmette and Streeterville. After a lovely dinner, we concluded that Angelo’s is a hidden gem, with great food, lovely ambiance and a staff that works together to keep patrons happy.
The restaurant has kept pace with the neighborhood in which it is located. Opening in 1962, it primarily offered very good carry-out pizza. It has changed owner several times within the same family and is now run by the fourth generation in the person of Ramez Fakhoury. in 2015 Fakhoury purchased the adjacent storefront, completely redid the restaurant interior. It has a rustic chic vibe, with classic movies on monitors around the room. Angelo’s reopened as a cool wine bar, complementing the area’s new breweries, sports bars and restaurants. The wine collection is curated by Parisian transplant to Chicago, Georges Bredeux, who has an amazing story. The Angelo’s wine list reflects Bredoux’s philosophy that wine isn’t a fancy drink only for the elite—it is for the everyday people who want to drink something delicious with their meal. “I want our guests to love the wine,” he says. His genuine desire for patrons to be interested in and know what they’re drinking is the reason he won’t serve flights or label a house wine. The cocktails and the spirits program is headed by general manager Patrick Ramirez.
Though the food is Italian inspired the creative freedom given to executive chef Julia Helton, results in dishes that were just a little different than what we expected. Helton talked with us about her travels and the interest she has in combining the way different cultures prepare food. She is quoted as saying, “I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, but I want to make our dishes more exciting”. I especially appreciated the accommodation made for my gluten-free vegetarian requirements.
Georges Bredeux is the sommelier at Angelo’s, but, he welcomed our group seated us, offered us food suggestions, and along with others, served us. He explained that the food is intended for the table, somewhat like tapas and this suited us well.
We began our meal with Crispy Cauliflower (mint, cilantro, fried garlic, nouc Mam Cham), Watermelon, Tomato, Feta, Mint, and Burrata Caprese (Burrata Mozzarella, Smoked Cherry Tomato, Balsamic Glace, Pesto, Basil, Garlic).
The cauliflower was crispy and the flavor was wonderful.
The watermelon/tomato was beautiful and the combination of contrasted flavors and textures were surprising, refreshing and delicious.
The Burrata Caprese was another surprise. The smoky flavor of the tomatoes and the sauce were a unique approach and the flavors were wonderful.
Moving right along, we ordered Squid Ink Pasta Primavera (Seasonal vegetables, Shrimp, Mussels, White Wine Butter), Gnocchi (Potato, Vodka Pomodoro, Basil, Ricotta, Parmesan), and Summer Risotto (Ramp pesto, Roasted corn, Charred Vidalia Onion, Peas, Tomato Comfit, Ricotta, Squash Blossom).
The warm squid ink pasta was delicately seasoned. The mussels were very good and the radishes and eggplant embellished the look and flavor of the dish.
The gnocchi was just right. The sauce was fresh and the sliced Parmesan garnish was the perfect complement.
The risotto was outstanding and had the advantage for me of being vegetarian and Gluten-free and good to the last taste. The lemony flavor was unusual and very pleasant. The squash blossom had a crunchy texture.
Wines were pleasant but the dessert drink of Amaro Montenegro was unexpected and delicious.
We were no longer hungry, having enjoyed each of the dishes served to us. But, who can resist dessert? Being gluten-free, I was delighted to learn that gluten-free pizzas are available. But I didn’t want pizza for dinner. Instead, I had pizza for dessert. We also ordered Pistachio gelato that came topped with whipped cream and chopped pistachios, which enhanced the texture and flavor. The macaron was simply amazing.
Once the dessert pizza was served warm, we were blown away. It was decadent and absolutely delicious. Imagine a crust that isn’t too sweet but is crispy, spread with Nutella and topped with bananas, whipped cream and a cherry. Heavenly. I had to take some home and it was also really good cold.
We learned that each night has a specialty, i.e. Wednesday is Green Mill night. The restaurant interior seats 79, and there are three seatings. Early in the evening, families come in and as it gets later, it becomes date night. Fridays and Saturdays are very busy. And brunches are also strongly recommended.
To learn more about this great restaurant, go to the Angelo’s Wine Bar Website
Victoria, one of our servers