5/23/2012 02:21:00 PM

What's New on Chicago's Italian Scene? Achatz Does Sicily and More

Balena
This morning we counted down Chicago’s best Italian restaurants - by the numbers. We couldn’t talk about Italian food without mentioning new restaurants heating up the scene.

Tony Mantuano’s Bar Toma takes a more casual approach to Italian with the versatile dining space and pizza-heavy menu.It’s a coffee bar, liquor bar, cheese bar, and gelato bar, all surrounding a brick pizza oven.

Head south to the heart of Little Italy, where pasta and pizza are afterthoughts of the seafood-driven Urban Union. It’s difficult to miss marinara sauce while starin gat their raw bar and wines on tap.

For home-style Italian in a cozy setting, check out Balena. In its first months of service, it's already developed quite the following

A Chicago staple is expanding. Piccolo Sogno’s sister restaurant opens next month, Piccolo Sogno Due will focus on the Italian seaside while remaining true to the traditional flavors and techniques that define the original restaurant (340 N. Clark, 312-822-0077).

There are only a few days left to tribute El Bulli at Next. After that, according to Eater, it closes until June 2, when it reopens with a Sicilian menu featuring 13 courses of rustic Italian food. With Achatz at the helm, we're assuming this won't be your typical spaghetti-and-meatballs fare. 

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