Is it just us, or is making babies so hot right now?
Look to the newest kid in town for proof: Balena opened yesterday in the old Landmark space.
The love child of The Bristol and Boka Group (Girl & the Goat, GT Fish & Oyster), Balena serves unfussy, exceptional Italian food, courtesy of Bristol chef Chris Pandel and pastry guru Amanda Rockman.
Rustic, cozy, and elegant, the space has sky-high ceilings, burned-out neon lights, terra-cotta tiles, and breathtaking private dining rooms.
After an amaro-spiked cocktail, tear into just-baked bread and bagna cauda. Move on to fresh pastas (spaghetti with tomato fondue, tarajin with pork ragu), squash blossom and ricotta brick-oven pizza, charred quail with hazelnut butter, and Tuscan kale salad.
For dessert, affogato and yeasted donuts and addictive gelato.
Balena, 1633 North Halsted Street, between North Avenue and Willow Street (312-867-3888 or balenachicago.com).
Photo: Jeff Kauck / Courtesy of Balena