Taylor Street has always been a Chicago destination for old-world Italian, but these days, the classic red sauce joints are being joined by spots offering everything from hip rock vibes to 3-foot pizzas. Whether you're in the mood for classic spaghetti and Frank Sinatra tunes or you prefer to unravel strands of pappardelle while Iggy Pop echos between the dark walls, today's Taylor Street truly something for everyone.
New Kids On The Block
For your inner rock star: There's nothing stuffy about the atmosphere at Three Aces; it's as inviting as a rock concert. Walk up to the bar and one of the hurried bartenders will mix up something special off of the cocktail list. Stick around for the food (the real attraction), that includes everything from the bruschetta of the day to a carbonara pizza loaded with bacon, farm egg, black pepper, parmesan cream and parsley. It's so rock 'n' roll that Slash would dine in this way hip environment.
1321 W. Taylor St.; 312-243-1577
When looking to quench your wine thirst: It really doesn't matter what night of the week it is, unless you arrive at Davanti Enoteca early (long before 7 pm), be prepared to wait. On weekend, waits can stretch to more than two hours, but there's a good reason for that: cheap wine and outstanding food. After a long wait at the bar coveting the wood-fired pizzas flying out of the oven, be sure to order the pizza con prosciutto e rucola -- a pie decked out with prosciutto di parma, fresh mozzarella, fontina and arugula.
1359 W. Taylor St.; 312-226-5550
When you want a 3-foot pizza for takeout: Scott Harris of the Francesca empire and Jimmy Bannos Sr. of Heaven on Seven teamed up to open Dough Boys earlier this year. This casual small eatery, decorated with red-checkered tablecloths, brings back the old-school pizza joint to Taylor Street. Choose the thin crust, "Al Metro" (the 3-footer!) or stuffed pizza. Toppings range from meatballs to pineapple, and offer just about everything but the kitchen sink in between. A handful of Italian sandwiches and salads make this place a real winner, especially for carryout or delivery; our favorite word.
626 S. Racine Ave.; 312-243-9799
When you crave dishes from your honeymoon in Rome: It's hard to forget a place like the famous Tuscany on Taylor, where the waiters come by the table with fresh roasted garlic and mix it with olive oil and parmesan cheese -- an irresistible combo concocted to coat the pieces of your freshly warmed bread. Pair that with popular ravioli alla pera, comprised of roasted pear, parmesan, toasted nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and mascarpone cream, and you'll fall in love all over again.
1014 W. Taylor St.; 312-829-1990
When you're scouting fresh pasta and a good value: When you see bowls of pasta sailing by, brightly colored martinis being delivered and desserts that look like they're straight out of a bakery, you'll know that you're at Francesca's on Taylor. The menu changes often, giving you a chance to sample some of the chef's creations, like the warm lentils with spinach and goat cheese appetizer and the rigatoni sautéed in a light tomato-basil sauce with mozzarella. Although the dishes may sound it, Francesca's family recipes are anything but simple. You'll get that as soon as you wind your fork around the first few pieces of linguini delicately brushed with one of the homemade sauces of the day.
1400 W. Taylor St.; 312-829-2828
When you want classic Italian in big portions: One thing is for sure: You won't leave Rosebud on Taylor hungry. With so many options, a diner could easily get overwhelmed. We recommend the chicken vesuvio or the famous "square noodles" blanketed in a rich tomato basil sauce. If this pasta doesn't convert you to a regular, we don't know what will.
1500 W. Taylor St.; 312-942-1117