Even with the recent influx of great TV (time is a flat circle), the Sopranos is still holding it down at number one in our top five. We always picture sitting at the table with Tony helping decide who gets whacked while doing our best to avoid being on the receiving end of it. Assuming our "made" status in television's favorite mob family, we would make sure every who-is-going-to-get-whacked discussion took place over dinner at La Scarola.
There may technically be better Italian food in the city, but in our technical opinion there aren't many places offering a better food and ambience combination. They are doin' the d*mn thing when it comes to heaping portions of traditional Italian food at affordable prices, which might as well be the technical term for being awesome.
Situated in River West, it's a low-key Italian option compared to your Piccolo Sogno's and RPM's of the world. Don't think low-key means you're getting short changed on the food, though, because that would be a mistake. La Scarola offers all the classics, from antipastos and calamari to veal marsala or linguini with clams. They also have a rotating specials menu with a few items that remain a stronghold, including our personal favorite, the penne a la vodka with shrimp and asparagus.
The beauty of La Scarola is its versatility. Whether you're looking for a casual night with a significant other, gathering with a group of friends for a weekly dinner, or want a full fledged Italian family feast, this place is for you. The versatility comes not only from the food, but the familial atmosphere and decor. And what's more familiar at an Italian restaurant than white tablecloths and pictures of A-list celebrities like Nicholas Cage and Jim Belushi on the wall? Those two staring right at you aside, La Scarola gets the Infatuation approval.
Mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, roasted peppers, and prosciutto over some baby greens. Tough to not be good.
Our go-to appetizer so try it over the fried stuff. They prepare it simply with olive oil, and don't forget to squeeze some lemon over the top.
Vodka [noun]: an alcoholic beverage that makes you want to party. Penne a la vodka at La Scarola: a party in your mouth that may get you drunk on pasta. Both equally satisfying.
There's nothing wrong with sticking to a Chicago style classic here. The chicken is served with vesuvio potatoes and sautéed in a garlic, oregano, white wine, and olive oil. You can order it with just white meat chicken breast if you choose, but don't be silly, go with the half chicken.
You could order the eggplant parm, but we suggest skipping it. This dish has too much sauce and the eggplant is mushy. If you're not a meat eater, stick to one of the vegetarian pasta dishes instead.