Chef Michael Sheerin has done it again. Along with Sous Chefs Phil Rubino and Sarah Jordan, Sheerin has knocked it out of the park with Cicchetti, a Mediterranean/Venetian-inspired small plate concept restaurant right off Michigan Avenue, in the heart of Northwestern’s medical campus. I love what Sheerin did at Trenchermen, the Wicker Park bar and restaurant he opened with his brother Pat back in 2012, and now he’s definitely got another hotspot on his hands here at Cicchetti.
My friend Laura and I made reservations for dinner at Cicchetti on a Monday night. Although the restaurant was nearly empty when I arrived around 5:30 pm, almost every table was spoken for as we were leaving so I strongly recommend a reservation to guarantee yourself a seat. I arrived a little early and grabbed a cocktail at the bar before Laura arrived. I went with the Buongiorno and it was the perfect choice-St. George Terroir Gin, Aperol, Bergamot, Lemon, and a frothy Egg White to top it off.
Once we were seated we got right down to business and ordered a bottle of red wine and an order of Nonna’s Meatballs. Served in a Pancetta Tomato Sauce with a couple chucks of Ciabatta for dipping, these are definitely not your ordinary meatballs. I recently had sinus surgery at Northwestern so I sent my mom and Mike over to Cicchetti for lunch while they waited for me. I made sure they ordered Nonna’s Meatballs and they both agreed that these were one of their favorites!
Next up we went with our server’s recommendation of the Charred Baby Squid with Squid Ink, Black Garlic, and Creamy Polenta. This dish was straight up outstanding! Laura and I both agreed that it was an incredibly unique dish – but unique in a very good way. The squid is actually black from the squid ink, we didn’t really get much of a charred taste, but that was totally fine by us! Mixed with the creamy polenta and black garlic and a bright note of cilantro on top, it was very delicious and my favorite of the night.
After the squid we went with an order of the Bruschette and the Braised Short Rib Ravioli. We ordered one of each of Bruschette: Duck Liver with cocoa nibs, Pork Belly with fennel and golden raisin agrodolce, and Tuna Conserva with pickled shallot and parsley. We split each piece in half so we were both able to try a bite of each and the pork belly was the winner for me. The Short Rib Ravioli is just as good as you might imagine-extremely tasty and definitely a dish that’s on the heartier side!
We finished off our meal with Cicchetti’s house-made Limoncello and an order of the Reverse Affogato. The limoncello packs quite the punch so make sure to sip slowly! The sugary doughnuts and bold coffee gelato of the reverse affogato made for the perfect ending to an already notable meal.
Everything we tried here at Cicchetti was wonderful and I can’t wait to return to explore more of this fantastic menu. Word on the street is that the Pork Cracklins and the Aged Hanger Steak Carpaccio are must-orders, so I definitely need to get back soon to give those a try!
Cicchetti is located at 671 N. St. Clair in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.