Hidden within the luxurious Raffaello Hotel in Chicago is Pelago, an exquisite fine dining Italian restaurant offering an elegant environment to savor wine & Italian specialties. An evening at Pelago promises a dinner of fresh ingredients, hand-made pastas and genuine flavors, served in an intimate setting.
Chef Mauro Mafrici hails from Trieste, in Northern Italy and has worked in restaurants both in Italy & NYC before making his way to Chicago & Pelago. Chef Mafrici's take on Italian cuisine is approachable while at the same time creative. His culinary style is greatly influenced by culture and having parents from both northern & southern Italy.
As you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by the hostess who graciously takes your coat (a very nice touch) before you are escorted to your table in the elegant main dining room, adorned with white table clothes, and a small fireplace.
During our visit chef put together, for us, a fabulous tasting menu with wine pairings so we could try a variety of flavors. We started with a trio of mozzarella: a nice portion of Burrata sitting on a mound of caponata, Schmorza with marinated white beans on top and a Buffolo caprese. Though all tasty and equally delicious, I preferred the burrata since it is notoriously my favorite.
Our tasting menu continued with four sharable portions of handmade pasta: Ring Ricotta Dumplings with Sausage and Green Peas, Penne with Hen Ragù, Potato Dumplings with Venison Ragù, and Rolled Tube Pasta with Lamb Ragù.
I'm a huge pasta lover and it takes a lot to impress me, but after several bites of perfectly made pasta it is evident that Chef Mauro Mafrici loves it as much as I do. In each case the texture of the pasta and their accompanied sauce was a match made in heaven. If I had to pick a favorite it would be the ring ricotta dumplings for their taste and consistency.
Our main course was a hearty portion of the restaurant's signature roulade; a roasted pig loin, pounded thin and rolled around a duck breast, served with whipped potatoes & vegetables. An interesting and incredibly tasty combination of flavors that I would definitely return for.
We finished off our meal with a nice selection of delicious desserts and like everything else at Pelago they were fabulous. There was a ricotta cheesecake, which tasted like my Italian grandmothers, a simply delicious panna cotta, a nutella layer ake and a flourless chocolate cake with housemade gelato.
If you are seeking a fine dining experience in Chicago's Gold Coast area and love quality Italian cuisine, dinner at Pelago is exactly what you are looking for.
Raffaello Hotel, 201 E. Delaware Pl.; 312-280-0700
This experience was provided complimentary, all opinions are my own.