When you enter Carmine's you know you're in good company. Not only is the Italian eatery a member of the fierce Rosebud restaurant posse (the gold standard for tourists looking for a bite of Chicago), but there's a literal hall of fame of folks who have broken bread at Carmine's.
The restaurant has an upscale but comfortable feel, with dim lighting, cushy leather chairs and live piano music Tuesday-Saturday from eight till close. When the weather is right, the ample outdoor seating along the sidewalk makes for great people watching. Look for the cheery rosebud mural on the brick wall in the courtyard-style space in the alley adjoining the tavern to the restaurant.
The entrees cost $12-$25, and the portions are big enough to fill a doggie bag and then some. House specialties include chicken vesuvio, zuppe di mare (linguine and seafood in a white wine tomato broth) and a decadent, creamy, mushroom-laden pasta dish called Ribbons from Heaven. The local business people tend to stop in for the New York steak. Carmine's offers cocktails from a full bar.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg