After closing its original Uptown location in December, 2013, Ceres’ Table is back and better than ever in the former Frog ‘n Snail space in Lakeview. While the name stayed the same, Chef Giuseppi Scurato reincarnated the menu. Evocative of his Sicilian roots, it includes salumi, formaggi, pizzas from a wood burning oven, crudi, antipasti, pastas, meat and fish entrees, and a selection of vegetable sides that change each week. Desserts by pastry chef Leticia Zenteno are no afterthought, and are meant to complement Chef Scurato’s main menu. Wines are all Italian in origin, and prices are quite reasonable, both by the glass and the bottle. A nice selection of cocktails, beers, and spirits are also available.
Our party of four decided to share a number of items from the menu. The one item that was carried over from the original Ceres’ Table to the current one is the arancine, and for good reason. Ceres’ take on the traditional Sicilian rice balls feature artichokes, taleggio cheese, living water farm basil aioli, tomato sauce, and arugula. These fried balls of goodness were, in one word, awesome.
We then enjoyed a wonderful young rapini salad, with apricots, caciotta campana cheese, pickled green beans, and a light lemon-oregano vinaigrette. This fresh and seasonal salad was a nice compliment to the heavier arancine.
The charred octopus was equally as impressive, with frisee, olives, fava beans, preserved lemon, and saffron. The octopus was nicely cooked, and it had great flavor.
Ceres’ Table offers a variety of crudi – raw seafood and meats. All sounded wonderful, but our server recommended the amberjack, prepared with arugula, capers, pink peppercorns, cucumber, and smoked olive oil. It did not disappoint.
Housemade pastas are not to be missed. We enjoyed the ricotta gnudi, made with brown butter, sage, and pioppini mushrooms, as well as the spaghetti nero seppie, featuring garlic chili, ricotta, and parsley, so much, that I forgot to take pictures! Trust me on this one, they were delicious – especially the gnudi.
We then shared the whole orata, a Mediterranean white fish, grilled, and served with rapini, salmorigano – a Sicilian pesto made from parsley, burnt lemon, and potatoes. The fish was cooked perfectly and incredible.
On the side, we tried the romanesco, an Italian broccoli or cauliflower, simply prepared with olive oil, garlic, and red chili flakes. Not surprisingly, another winner.
Good thing we shared everything, so we still had room for some dessert, which included an amazing salted caramel budino, with oreo crumble, whip cream, and chocolate biscotti, and a tasty tiramisù, with a coffee crème anglaise. The budino was my favorite.
Every time I visit an Italian restaurant, I peruse the dessert or after-dinner-drink menu for my favorite dessert wine, Vin Santo. Ceres’ Table offered it, thus confirming the solidity of this restaurant, and I had to order it. After one sip, I was transplanted to Chianti, Italy.
Ceres’ Table is a must visit, even if you previously dined at the original Upton location. While service can use a little warming up, the food is simply exquisite and perfectly executed. I know I will be back, and I recommend that you visit, too.
3124 North Broadway, Chicago 60657