Viaggio is an intimate Italian restaurant in Lincoln Park. Located on Fullerton and the park it’s an easy place to miss but that doesn’t mean that you should. The 4-page menu offers plenty of choices from salad to pasta to fish to veal. In other words there’s something for everyone. (Admittedly maybe not my first choice for you vegans out there.)
Viaggio Meatball Salad
One of the specialties of the house is the Meatball Salad. This dish is more like meatballs and salad. But that small point doesn’t make it any less worth trying. The meatballs are rich and delicious, made with just the right mix of meat, bread, parmesan and parsley. Theside salad provides the perfect palate cleanser between mouthfuls keeping the dish from being overwhelming.
Grilled Seafood Platter appetizer
The Grilled Seafood Platter appetizer was near perfection. It consists of grilled calamari, baby octopus and shrimp drizzled in a balsamic glaze. The shrimp were amazing and the baby octopus very good. Unfortunately, the calamari was slightly undercooked. I’d rather have it slightly undercooked than over cooked and chewy but this small detail kept this dish from being as good as it should have been.
Brazino is a European sea bass which has been finding its way onto many a menu over the past couple of years. Viaggio’s preparation (seen above) is lightly egg-battered, topped with lump crab meat and served over capellini in a light white wine sauce with a side of garlic-y rappini. This dish was decent. The fish was prepared well and the egg glaze wasn’t soggy. The problem was the sauce; It was bland and watery. (Yes, white wine sauce is thin but it’s not supposed to taste like actual water!) Which leads us to the pasta dishes in general….
Linguini with Clams
Every Italian restaurant serves Linguini with Clams. It’s a staple. Not everyone offers it prepared with a spicy arabiatta tomato sauce. This dish proved to be problematic and ultimately a disappointment. The sauce was not only NOT spicy it was also a little watery and bland. Their weren’t very many clams in the dish. However, there were plenty of whole cloves of garlic masquerading as clams which was a somewhat unpleasant surprise. I LOVE garlic but when you’re expecting a clam it’s just not what you want to bite into. Plus the strong garlic was jarring next to the lackluster tomato sauce. I hope that given how tasty the meatballs were that Viaggio’s other pasta sauces/dishes are better than what we experienced…
I don’t eat a lot of meat but boy, was the Veal Marsala good! It was flavorful and perfectly balanced. Plus, I could have had and entire bowl of the sauce all by itself. The marsala sauce was SO good I could have bathed in it and been as happy as a pig in… Okay, you get the point. The tender meat, killer sauce and fantastic mashed potatoes made this dish our favorite of the evening!
Dessert consisted of a delicious cannoli and tiramisu. The cannoli had a delightful and gooey homemade filling with chocolate chips while the tiramisu was a tower of whipped cream and marscapone with just a hint of cake.
We don’t get a chance to taste everything when we dine out and being food lovers we don’t like to be wasteful and order more than we can eat either. So, I asked Executive Chef Vick Purdue what other recommendations he would make from the menu. His choices were: the Shortribs, the Veal Chop, the Brick Chicken, and the Eggplant Stack.
Taken from our table at Viaggo
Taken as a whole I’d give Viaggio a 3.5 out of 5. The service was fast and our waiter was pleasant. There were a few issues with the food but I’d definitely go back to try a couple of the chef’s recommendations. If you stop in make sure to strike up a conversation with Dave (El Jefe), The Manger. He’s the big Italian guy at the door and he’s good people!