3311 N. Clark St.
We are pretty picky about Italian food. Finally, the hipsters get some good Italian food! For now, we’re believing the hype, Mia Francesca is a good enough restaurant to merit all the crowding and ink it gets. The menu changes every six days, so return customers (us, soon?) will be pleased. The place itself is crowded and noisy, and big groups fill the upstairs dining room. However, the atmosphere is convivial rather than chaotic. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to hear your dining partner talk. When the sun shines, terrace dining is available, too. The service at MF is friendly and efficient, providing a bottomless supply of water and bread.
Natural and fresh, the food is worth more than a passing nod. With a wide range of rustic and satisfying central-Italian pizza, pasta and meat dishes, there is something for everyone. For starters, the rarely seen appetizer of Carpaccio (raw, thinly-sliced sirloin steak) makes a flavorful appearance. Pasta dishes are big enough for two, and if you say you’re splitting, they’ll divide up the meal for you in advance (with no splitting fee). The cheese ravioli with garlic-alfredo sauce was a cheese-lovers heaven. For dessert, MF provides a selection of gelati, tiramisu and cakes. The molten chocolate lava cake topped with vanilla gelato was out of this world, gooey and chocolately enough to please even the biggest dessert snob. For less than 20 bucks per person we left satiated, and very, very happy. As plus for people living outside the city proper – there are several suburban “Francesca” locations.