Bar Siena, located in Chicago’s hot West Loop, is the fifth location for the DineAmic restaurant group (others include Siena Tavern, Bull & Bear, Public House, and Prime & Provisions), and the second with celebrity chef Fabio Viviani at the kitchen’s helm. The rustic, two-story space offers casual seating throughout the restaurant, including the ground floor bar area, as well as a dining room on the second floor, with a 25-foot-by-25- foot opening in the center, uniting the two levels. While seated at the bar, guests have a straight view into the open kitchen where a dome-shaped, red mosaic tile pizza oven bearing the name “Bella” is a notable attraction.
I recently dined in the first floor bar area, and started with a wonderful glass of Italian red wine recommended by the friendly server as I perused the well-rounded menu, watched the bar fill up, and waited for my friend to arrive.
Once we placed our order, one of the best salads I have ever enjoyed quickly arrived. The Burrata Wedge salad, with heirloom cherry tomatoes, pickled red onion, and crostini, was so flavorful, I will have a hard time returning to traditional wedge salads. The Burrata cheese was perfectly creamy and decadent, and the dressing was light and zesty enough to complement, rather than drawn out, the dish.
The Grilled Octopus and Shishito Peppers, accompanied by charred escarole and and kicky Calabrian chili vinaigrette, was wonderfully cooked, perfectly seasoned, and flavorful. I appreciated the large octopus “steaks,” rather than small pieces typically found on menus.
Known for its pizzas from the “Bella” pizza oven – heated to over 600 degrees – we decided to go halvsies on a pizza. Our server recommended the Prosciutto Fig, with spiced pistachio, Taleggio cheese and local honey, and I had a yearning for the Grilled Eggplant, with more of that creamy Burrata, heirloom tomato and basil oil, so being able to go half-and-half on a pizza was the perfect solution. The crust was wonderfully chewy and light, and I loved the charred eggplant combined with the fresh basil flavor.
I had read about the Sweet Corn Ravioli, and after conferring with our wise server, decided to try it, and I am glad that we did! The sweetness of the corn balanced beautifully against the earthiness of the Chioddini mushrooms, and the Umami flavors of the truffle butter. I may have been using the pizza crust to sop up the remaining butter. I want to go back and try the Burrata Stuffed Agnolotti, with Maine lobster and blistered tomato next time. Clearly, I have a thing for Burrata!
Bar Siena also boasts a Bombobar, featuring Bomboloni, or Italian hole-less donuts, house made gelato, cannoli, and coffee. However, we were too full to splurge, but a trip is in my near future.
Bar Siena is open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, and on the weekends for brunch and dinner. Reservations are accepted, and are recommended for weekends and peak dining hours, though much of the first floor bar area is for walk-ins.
832 West Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois 60607