Balena in Lincoln Park is one of my new favorite spots in Chicago. Serving up classy italian comfort food, the space has the warmth of those beautiful weddings-in-a-barn. Not pretentious at all, but definitely rustic-trendy.
Just look at how inviting this place is:
Why yes, I will sit and eat for hours, thank you.
The wine list goes on for miles, and the cocktails offered are super interesting. I went for the Strawberry No. 1: with dimmi, grey goose, fragoli, la marca prosecco, and wild strawberry.
My kind of drink: sweet, refreshing, and smooth. The little blobs you see? Mini strawberries that have been soaked in fragoli. Sooo delicious. I could eat a vat of these little strawberries.
We started with the mushroom bruschetta with marsala onions and cream.
I loved the thickness of the bread, and the creamy goodness of the mushroom topping. Want. More.
I ordered a pasta for my entree, which the waitress had warned me would not be very big... but to me, it was just the right amount.
Orecchiette with kale, lemon, bread crumbs, and chili. Loved the al-dente, the tartness, and the crunchy bread crumb+kale combo. I finished the whole plate (which, as I said, was the perfect size).
Dan ordered the spicy pepperoni pizza with mozzarella and tomato.
It was huge! And soooo tasty. It was definitely spicier than we had both guessed, but in fantastic way, and the tomato sauce was super fresh. The dough had good texture, and the crust was just dense enough (not too chewy!).
Balena, we will definitely be back!
1633 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614