Stepping into Dolce Italian, located in River North’s Godfrey Hotel, had me feeling as if I were walking into a Miami restaurant. Not surprisingly, Dolce’s original location is in that very city, along with another in Atlanta. The vibe is cool and sexy, yet elegant, with chic mid-century modern Italian furniture and design features, and upbeat music that still allows for conversation. Some restaurants may rest on its design laurels to bring in the crowds, but at Dolce, the decadent house-made Italian food is the true star.
My husband and I recently visited with another couple, allowing us to try a nice array of the menu. When we arrived, slightly earlier than our reservation time, our table was not yet ready, so we ordered drinks at the comfortable bar overlooking the dining room. Minutes later, the hostess came to seat us at a nice table near the semi-open kitchen.
After perusing the menu, we ordered from our gregarious and knowledgeable server, who expertly curated our selections so that we ordered the best from the menu to suit our tastes and preferences.
We started with the Dolce Meatballs, which were wonderfully flavored and sizable, and served over creamy polenta, and topped with Parmigiano and torn basil.
We then enjoyed the Burrata Bruschetta – currently only served as part of the Happy Hour menu. Creamy Burrata cheese topped roasted eggplant, tomatoes, red onion, and buttery, crusty bread. A generous portion of speck accompanied the savory toasts.
We also enjoyed the Grilled Octopus – bite size pieces arranged atop a bed of chickpeas, farro, frisee, and combined together with a light pistachio vinaigrette. The flavors were zesty and the octopus nicely cooked.
Once heralded as an off-menu secret pizza, the Dolce “Stella” Pizze – star-shaped with house made ricotta cheese stuffed into the corners – makes more of a regular appearance these days. We chose to have ours topped with bianca cheese, speck, spicy salami, and decadent truffle oil. I could eat an entire plate of just the pizza’s corners alone!
We also tried a vegetable pizza featuring generous heaps of eggplant, artichokes, zucchini and roasted red peppers. While I loved all of the veggies, the pizza just did not compare to the ricotta-stuffed Stella pizza.
The Sweet Pea Tortelli, made from scratch in Dolce’s kitchen, featured young garlic cream and fresh pea shoots. It was a nice dish with light flavors and a nice intermezzo between the heavier courses. This pasta is now solely served on the Happy Hour menu.
One of my favorite courses of the evening, the Risotto Al Frutti Di Mare, featured shrimp, scallops, calamari and a generous portion of lobster, along with a delicious seafood sauce. The portion was more than enough to share among the four of us, and we all loved it.
We then rounded out our meal with a beautifully cooked Whole Roasted Branzino, served simply with roasted tomatoes and a charred lemon. It was a lovely end to a fantastic meal.
I was impressed with Dolce and look forward to returning. The wine was excellent, the service on point, and the food flavorful and wonderfully cooked. The restaurant offers a nice weekday happy hour, and is a great spot for a group of friends or for a date night. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily, and brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are accepted and encouraged.
127 W Huron Street, Chicago, Illinois 60654