When it comes to Italian restaurants in Rosemont, or any restaurant for that matter, Carlucci's dominates this Illinois convention capital. Just off I-90, steps from the Rosemont
Blue Line stop and a short cab ride from O'Hare, this restaurant leaves little room for rivals.
Secure your car with a friendly valet (free for customers) as a smiling hostess greets you inside. Not sure what to expect? Look up at the amber-dome ceiling, a la Sistine Chapel, with paintings of Tuscan treasures of which you'll enjoy in the Palio Room. This room, ideal for formal affairs, holds organized rows of tables draped in white cloths with symmetrically stacked glass and silverware.
The Tamarack Room provides intimacy away from boisterous groups gathering in the main dining room or near a handsome bar (where the average cocktail runs $10). An outdoor terrace offers dining versatility, exciting guests with riverside fauna like herons, waterfowl and a tubby 'coon or two.
The staff know most visitors on a kiss-and-hug level, as this establishment sees its share of repeats, many of whom return after celebrating a special occasion. Newcomers stream in from the Westin across the road or the Marriott Suite's O'Hare connected via walkway. The Chicago Bulls recently held a holiday party in the conference room just outside the main lobby, while Sharon Stone once enjoyed a low-key dinner.
Ask Mark Robbins, the general manager, for recommendations and he'll start you off with the Contadina: roasted chicken pizza, fresh tomato and fontina cheese topped with argula salad, $11.95. While his favorite entrees reside with the restaurantís grilled steak choices, he also believes in the linguini with fresh basil and prosciutto di Parma tossed tableside inside a fresh Parmesan cheese wheel, $16.95. He will relay, however, that many guests find the bistecca di vitello (citrus marinated veal, $24.95) divine.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez