There's no more common Marathon-eve activity than loading up on carbs with a few big bowls of pasta. And since you're going to be working hard on Sunday (October 11), you shouldn't have to make it yourself. Here are some of our picks for the best pasta places around.
Just looking for any pasta place near your home or hotel? Check out our huge directory of Italian restaurants.
David Burke's Primehouse
You can get a whole lot more than pasta at this popular steakhouse in the James Hotel, whose Marathon Weekend menu (available for dinner October 9-11) includes carb-heavy entrees like rock shrimp ravioli with peas, chanterelles and truffle puree; spaghetti with tri-meat old-school gravy with dry-aged beef, pork and veal, stewed tomatoes and ricotta salata; and desserts like banana protein smoothies and oatmeal and dried cherry cookies. Still hungry? The James will also host a pre-race marathon breakfast in the lobby bar beginning at 5 a.m. on Sunday; runners can enjoy free food including granola, energy bars, oatmeal, juices, Vitamin water and more.
If you like to do your carbo-loading in style, you'll want to stop in for some of executive chef Mark Payne's pasta creations on Saturday, including pappardelle with braised chicken and wild mushroom ragout ($17, fettuccine with Little Neck clams and rock shrimp with spicy broth, butternut squash, arugula and extra virgin olive oil (417) and garganelli pasta pomodoro with fresh tomatoes, basil and house-made lemon ricotta ($16).
Angelina Ristorante Remember that scene in Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" where the canine couple dines on spaghetti and meatballs in the alley outside an Italian restaurant, serenaded by "Bella Noche"? The same feeling of romance surrounds Angelina, the date destination for any well-informed Chicagoan. But, instead of a measly plate of vermicelli, red sauce and ground beef, the entrees excite and reward the appetite, especially those on the new fall menu. Pasta choices include a vegetable lasagna ($15) with roasted tomato, mushrooms, spinach and squash, and the classic pasta pomodoro ($12).
Anna Maria Pasteria
You know a restaurant is fluent in Italian when it offers puttanesca on its regular menu. This popular Lakeview spot takes great care with the classic dish, combining tube pasta, fresh tomatoes, onions, capers and black olives. It all gets thrown together in a light marinara sauce to create a delightfully salty mess ($12.50). If you're not racing, the creamy rotolo aurora is a favorite on the menu.
Any of the restaurants in the Heart of Italy area will do you well, but we'll go with Dennis Farina's favorite. With lively patrons, an intimate setting and a friendly wait staff, this place definitely exudes fun. There are many wonderful pasta dishes to choose from here, but the wise won't pass on the spaghetti carbonara, where the spaghetti comes in a cream sauce with Italian bacon. Other popular specials include veal chops, eggplant parmigiana and spinach-cheese ravioli.
If you're really looking to pack in the pasta, you can't go wrong at this Bucktown spot known for its heaping plates. Though you'll have to gather a large group to take advantage of the family-style option, the regular menu's portions can be larger than you would expect. Enjoy the old-school atmosphere while you scarf down a hearty portion of penne arrabiata or a square of spinach lasagna.
Rosal's Italian Cucina
No pasta guide would be complete without a Little Italy entrant, and we're going to go with this classic spot, mainly because of its flexibility. Most patrons use the menu of pasta and meat options as a template, and then ask for customized variations for their meal. The kitchen staff is not only used to it, they expect it. So whether you want something extra hearty or light and fresh, you can get a bowl of it here.
Looking for other ways to celebrate the weekend? These Marathon specials will have you cheering.