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Labriola Chicago

July 19, 2021

  • 535 N. Michigan Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60611
  • (312) 955-3100
  • Website
  • Menu

What to do about dinner in downtown Chicago?  We learned the previous night that most places are running on reservation only so we got on it earlier in the day.  

I opened up my phone and started looking on OpenTable for places within walking distance of our hotel on the Mag Mile.  I kinda wanted pizza but definitely did not want Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s.  I was open to Pizzeria Uno if we could get in to their original location just around the corner from where we were staying but I was looking much wider than the Chicago staples.  

We had walked to Navy Pier the day before and passed a sign for a place that said The Hungry Hound declared them the best deep dish in the city.  It took me a while to find it but they did have spots open for Sunday night so I booked us a table for four at 6:15.

Labriola Chicago is another one of those places that has an address on Michigan Avenue but if you go to the address, you won’t find it.  The restaurant is on the overpass bridge of Grand Avenue right off Michigan.  There’s a Men’s Warehouse and Pandora on the Michigan Avenue side.  If you walk past those buildings on the overpass that goes above Grand Avenue, you’ll find the restaurant on the north side.  

It was raining so we didn’t even ask to sit outside. We realized as we were taken to a booth near the kitchen that this would be the first time our kids had eaten *inside* a restaurant since the pandemic began. J and I have eaten inside a couple of times but we’re both vaccinated. Our kids are still too young so we’ve been requesting outside seating when we eat. It was when we sat down we both kind of looked at each and like “woah…this feels weird.”

The restaurant is deceptively big. I thought at first there was only the bar area where we were seated but when I took B to the bathroom, I found another dining room further back in the space. The restaurant has a neat vibe. It’s an Italian restaurant but it doesn’t depend on the colors of the Italian flag for it’s color scheme. They have a white and black checkered floor through most of the dining area with thick wood tables placed fairly close together. The place is not nearly as fancy as I was expecting it to be which is good for us. It was more of a comfortable bar area and I didn’t feel out of place at all with the kids.

Our waiter came over and said, “I’m sure you have questions about the menu.” Nope. We knew what we wanted. The menu has a number of pasta dishes but we came for the pizza. Not the deep dish though. We came for the thin crust.

First we should deal with drinks. I wasn’t going to get a beer but I got beer. I ordered a Foggy Geezer from WarPigs Brewpub and 3 Floyds Brewing. The beer is a pretty standard tasty IPA. Nothing too out of the ordinary but easy drinking.

J ordered herself another Froze. I think this was what she was really looking forward to Chicago for. Not sure if they’re a thing outside of the City but it’s the thing she talked about before we got there on Friday and she was able to find a couple places that had them.

J started with an Arugula Salad so she had more than just pizza for dinner. The Arugula is topped with truffle honey, goat cheese, pears, and a lemon vinaigrette. The salad was simple but so full of flavor. When J got done, L started picking the little pieces of goat cheese J left off her plate.

Alright, pizza time. I’ve explained over and over we are thin crust pizza. Even in Chicago, thin crust rules the southside. People outside of the city only associate the deep dish with Chicago but if you never have a Chicago tavern pizza, you are missing out on something amazing.

We didn’t want leftovers because our plan was to keep walking after dinner. With that in mind, I ordered a 10″ Richies Italian Beef pizza for myself. This pizza came out on a thin and crispy crust with sliced Italian beef and giardiniera on top of a rich sauce and under a slightly browned layer of cheese. This pizza was amazingly good. I’ve had beef pizzas all over the city and this one will rank right up there as one of the best. the giardiniera wasn’t super hot but it gave it a little bit of a kick. Because of the smaller size, my pizza was cut in to triangles instead of the traditional squares.

For everyone else, we got 12″ pepperoni. The pizza was similar to mine with the thin and crispy crust, sweet, rich sauce, and golden brown cheese but they had large pepperoni’s on top. We were walking for coffee the next morning and J mentioned then just how good last night’s pizza was and how she couldn’t stop thinking about it. That’s how good the pizzas from Labriola are.

Our bill came out to just a little over $75 before tip.

I’m so glad we were able to get in to Labriola for dinner. Finding a place to eat was much harder than I thought it was going to be but tourism is definitely back in Chicago. Labriola isn’t a name known to outsiders but if you want a delicious Chicago pizza that’s not from one of the big chains, this is it. This is the place to go.

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