Azzurra, which means azure, or sky blue, in Italian, is a rustic and seasonal Italian restaurant located in the heart of the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. The restaurant feels homey and welcoming, and is reflective of a menu inspired by traditional Italian meals.
Much of the menu at Azzurra is made in-house, including the breads, pastas, sausages, and desserts. Just as in Italy, everything found on the menu at Azzurra is inspired by the markets, and changes based upon the seasons. This attention to quality and freshness is evident in every dish that Azzurra produces.
Recently, I dined at Azzurra with some fellow Chicago Food Bloggers, and we kicked things off with a wonderful dry brut rosé. All wines at Azzurra are Italian, and this sparkling rosé was a perfect start to the meal. It paired nicely with the market corn bruschetta, watermelon salad, ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers, and grilled octopus.
The market corn bruchetta was wonderful. The corn was slightly charred and tasted extremely fresh. The saltiness from the pecorino cheese on top was the perfect complement.
I often make watermelon salad at home, and I plan to replicate Azzurra’s version. Prepared simply with sliced cucumber, heirloom tomatoes, feta cheese, and fresh basil, it was refreshing and the perfect pairing with the brut rosé.
I am a huge fan of zucchini flowers and order them every time I spot them on a menu, so I was looking forward to enjoying Azzurra’s, especially since it is the end of zucchini flower season. These were stuffed with ricotta, lightly fried, and sat atop a homemade tomato sauce. I was underwhelmed by Azzurra’s version, however, but I did enjoy the fresh tomato sauce, though they could have used more.
Another menu item that I typically gravitate towards is grilled octopus. This version was served cold, with sliced potatoes, chilis, red onion, lemon and olive oil. It was good, but next time I would skip it and try the grilled shrimp or calamari instead.
We then moved on to the best dishes of the evening – the homemade pastas. Both pastas were paired with a wonderful white wine from Veneto, Italy, which had been aged in stainless steel, giving it a smooth finish.
We tried the bucatini first, which was prepared with pea shoots, crushed fennel, garlic, chilis, and pecorino cheese. It was perfectly al dente, and the pea shoots and crushed fennel highlighted the seasonality of the dish.
My favorite pasta, however, and the best dish of the night, was the cavatelli. Made with country tomato, basil pesto, and parmigiano, this pasta not only tasted fantastic, but the aromas were unbelievable. This dish highlighted not only the peak of the tomato season, but the difference between house made pastas and store-bought versions. If I could eat this pasta every day, I would.
We finished off the savory part of the meal with a fantastic red wine from Umbria. Made from a blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and Syrah, this wine is definitely going on my must-buy list. I enjoyed my wine with the grilled trout, a current dinner special at Azzurra, which was prepared simply with a black olive vinaigrette, lemon, and a tomato and asparagus salad.
For dessert, we enjoyed the tiramisu and strawberry-blueberry cobbler – both homemade. The tiramisu was light, fluffy, and extremely satisfying. Mousse-like in consistency, this tiramisu is one of the best that I have tasted.
The cobbler was equally as delicious. Made with fresh strawberries and blueberries, and served warm in a ramekin and topped with fresh whipped cream, it was the perfect end to a wonderful meal.
Overall, I was extremely pleased with my meal at Azzurra. The service and hospitality were wonderful, the food was delicious, and the wines were fantastic and nicely priced. I was already a fan of Azzurra’s sister restaurant, Anteprima, and now I can safely add Azzurra to my list of favorite Italian restaurants, as well.
AZZURRA IS NOW CLOSED
While my meal at Azzurra was complimentary, all opinions expressed herein are my own.