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 than La Scarola. They are doin’ the d*mn thing when it comes to heaping portions of Italian food at affordable prices, which might as well be the technical term for being awesome.
Situated in West Town, 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 feast, this place is for you. The versatility comes not only from the food, but the atmosphere and decor. And what’s more charming at an Italian restaurant in Chicago than white tablecloths and pictures of celebrities like Nicholas Cage and Jim Belushi on the wall? Those two staring at you aside, La Scarola gets our 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.
Penne a la Vodka with Shrimp and Asparagus
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.