In Chicago, there’s an Italian restaurant for every occasion. When you need a family-friendly spot, you head to Little Italy for those old-school red sauce joints. When you’re planning a romantic night to remember, you book reservations at Spiaggia, which offers a beautiful view of the beach at night. And when you’re gathering a group of long-time pals for a much-needed reunion, it’s La Scarola all the way.
This vibrant space in the River West neighborhood has a laid back vibe, so there’s no need to worry about laughing too loud at your friends’ old jokes. Between guests at other tables reveling in the atmosphere and servers madly dashing around with food and drinks, there’s no way anyone will single you out as being that “loud group.” So go ahead and tell those stories that’ll likely have your friends howling. It’ll just add to the festive atmosphere.
The menu features generous portions of classic Italian fare served family-style to give everyone a chance to sample the specialties. La Scarola’s signature grilled shrimp Armani presented in a red spicy sauce over garlic mashed potatoes is a great starter. Add to that a plate of risotto tossed with seasonal vegetables, a heaping of meat lasagna, and the pasta Lorenzo of bow-tie pasta with grilled shrimp and chicken in chipotle sauce and you’ve got a veritable feast. The wine list is accessible, with plenty of crowd-pleasing bottles from the various wine-producing regions of Italy, perfect for raising a toast to good friends.
The later you book your reservations the better, because that’ll increase your chance of spotting a celebrity. You can tell who’s been here just by looking at the photos on the walls. From A-List movie stars like Johnny Depp to countless professional athletes and famous politicians, La Scarola will give you something to talk about long after dinner is over.
Photograph by Angelo DeSantis