Italian food is my go-to comfort food. At 11 PM on a Wednesday night, cheap Domino’s pasta is enough. If I have money to spend and the time to go out, however, my cravings have higher standards. RPM Italian, located in River North, was one such establishment that instantly became a favorite one Saturday night.
My best friend and I were scouring Yelp for a fancy dinner date in Chicago (even though there are options of Italian near me, going out to the city is refreshing!) when we came across RPM Italian reviews. With over 2,000 reviews and a high rating, it was a safe bet for a tasty meal.
The minute we walked in, we knew dinner would be an experience in itself. The monochromatic, white-and-black aesthetic and the bright lights highlighting the high ceilings and open environment prompted us to immediately whip out our phones to take a picture.
The RPM Italian menu has all the typicals – anti-pastas, pizzettes, pasta, steak, fish, and other Italian classics. The difference, however, is that RPM Italian strives to present Italian food in a contemporary context while at the same time boasting fresh, housemade pasta that sticks to traditional and comforting flavors.
My best friend and I decided to split the truffled garlic bread as an appetizer. I ordered Mama DePandi’s bucatini while she went with the short rib bolognese. For dessert, we opted for the hazelnut tartufo.
The truffled garlic bread came in two tempting rows lined up, ready for us to devour. While garlic bread itself is already rich in flavor, the truffle oil boosted it to a whole new level in earthiness and pungency. In short, it was amazing.
Although Mama DePandi’s bucatini didn’t look spectacular, the flavor made up massively for the appearance. The pomodoro sauce was thick and extremely fresh-tasting, and the noodles were thicker than the average spaghetti noodles so that the texture was chewier and softer. The genovese basil also came through the dish beautifully and packed a punch to my taste buds.
Photo: The Kittchen
My best friend let me have a taste of her short rib bolognese – the meat was beautifully tender, and the thick bolognese noodles were made perfectly.
Lastly, we had the hazelnut tartufo for dessert. To be honest, neither of us knew what to expect – we quickly Googled “tartufo” and gathered that it was some sort of ice cream wrapped in a shell of chocolate. When the dish arrived, it looked exactly like an enormous Ferrero Rocher chocolate. The chocolate shell was studded with hazelnut, and when we cracked the sphere open, we were pleasantly surprised by a chocolate ice cream center surrounded by hazelnut ice cream. The ice cream flavors complemented each other extremely well, and the added texture from the chocolate and chopped hazelnuts added excitement to the dessert as well.
By the end of the meal, my best friend and I were both bursting at the seams from all the food we had consumed. It was probably a poor choice to decide to dress up and order so much food, but we had zero regrets as we left RPM Italian Chicago full but satisfied.
Although I can foresee myself ordering more Domino’s pasta during my late-night struggles through homework and projects, I will be back at RPM Italian to splurge more on their indulgent pastas and desserts. With fresh ingredients, dedication to tradition with a twist, and a modern and inviting atmosphere, it has quickly become one of my favorite spots in the city.