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Few things in life warm the soul and make all right in the world like a beautiful pasta and a carafe of house Chianti...topped off with a homemade cannoli, of course. For our money, it's always better to enjoy such a meal in an authentic Italian restaurant and neighborhood — a place where it all goes down and where it's all been going down for a long time, filled with real people, real food, and with a palpable sense of history.
While Little Italy in Chicago means Taylor Street, the Near West Side destination is just one of several neighborhoods in the city steeped in Italian culture and cuisine. Grand Avenue and Oakley Avenue also both have their champions, and it’s not uncommon to hear either referred to by loyalists as "the real Little Italy." No one is wrong.
So, whether you're setting out for a romantic spot to mark a milestone, an Italian grocery to stock up on real-deal produce for a picnic, or to enjoy a cocktail and a little live music à la Frankie in Old Chicago environs, take a stroll through three of the city's top dining destinations, and days gone by, at Chicago's three Little Italys (with apologies to Harlem Avenue, Bridgeport, and several other possible contenders).
Photographed by Mika McClurkin