Fodor's Chicago 2014
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Lincoln Park newcomer Balena busted onto the scene with a lot of winning points: the support of culinary powerhouses the Boka Group (Boka, Girl and the Goat, GT Fish & Oyster, Perennial Virant) and the Bristol, a prime location across from Steppenwolf Theater, and a sexy Italian-inspired design that draws a respectable crowd. Be prepared to order plenty, from airy housemade pastas and crispy wood-fired pizzas to Mediterranean coastal fare like prawns with grapes and finger chiles, or Tuscan kale with tonnato and sardines. Dessert is not to be missed, particularly elevated classics like tiramisu with chocolate sauce and coffee steusel, and the affogato (vanilla gelato with a shot of espresso) served with cinnamon sugar doughnuts for dipping.
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