During my Chicago trip last year, we had the pleasure of dining at Nico Osteria, voted by Esquire as one of Chicago’s best new restaurants of 2014. S’s sister V is a pastry cook there, so we got a big discount on our meal and a bunch of freebies.
What better way to start off a meal than with warm bread? All the bread is made daily in-house, and the focaccia was amazing. Really, I just wanted to eat another 10 pieces by myself. But I had to remind myself that there was going to be an actual meal coming up and show some self-restraint.
This meal was quite a while ago (yes, I’m a huge procrastinator on writing posts) so I don’t remember all of the details. We started out our meal with some oysters on the half-shell, which were nice and refreshing.
We also got a few crudo dishes – salmon, hamachi, and marlin. I wasn’t super impressed with the fish, since I thought they were sliced a bit too thin. I suppose I was expecting something more like sashimi, but this was different.
We also shared two pastas. Corzetti is a round, flat-shaped pasta, and apparently there are various ways to make it based on family tradition. I really enjoyed the dish, especially the fresh corn in the sauce. The squid ink pasta dish was also quite good, although I liked the squid ink pasta at Eataly more.
We chose two entrées, a pan-seared sea bass and the Nico dry-aged ribeye (it’s dry-aged in-house). We really loved both dishes, especially the seasonal vegetable accompaniments. The fish was tender and flaky, and the beef was juicy and flavorful. However, I still don’t quite “get” dry-aged beef… I’ve had it twice now and don’t taste much difference from regular beef. Perhaps there’s something subtle that I’m missing, or maybe I need to try it some more, but so far, not too impressed with dry-aged.
Our first dessert was an affogato, but with prosecco instead of coffee. V has raved to us about Nico’s house-made gelatos and sorbets, and the two in this affogato – apricot and burnt honey – were absolutely delicious. The apricot was so refreshing, and the burnt honey had a rich, sweet flavor. The prosecco added a slight bitterness that balanced the sweetness of the gelato.
Nico has a seasonal torte, and the summer flavor that we had was lemon. The torte was super moist and filled with a rich and tart lemon curd, and I loved it. The ginger and blueberries also complemented the lemon perfectly.
Overall, we had a really lovely dinner at Nico Osteria, and I could definitely see why this is became such a popular restaurant so quickly. I would definitely plan for another meal here if I visit Chicago again!
1015 N. Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611