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Italian Restaurant$$$$
Lincoln Park, Chicago
68 Tips and reviews
  • good for dates
  • pizza
  • pistachio pesto
  • desserts
  • lively
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  • Olivia
    OliviaOctober 31
    Great place for a date! Great pasta. Love the space.
  • s h.
    s h .October 8
    Peach coppetta nicely done - amaretto gelato and almond cake
  • Eater
    EaterAugust 30
    Chef Chris Pandel shows off his rustic Italian side with a breakfast-y selection of dishes including scrambled egg bruschetta, crispy polenta hash with pork ragout and a porchetta sandwich. Read more
  • Eater
    EaterMay 31
    Dievole Le Due Arbie 2015 ($11). "It pairs great with all of Balena’s seasonal dishes like the rhubarb bruschetta, grilled asparagus and seafood specials,” says beverage director Keith Whitten. Read more
  • Hank C.
    Bavette pasta was delicious
  • Tasting Table
    Tasting TableJanuary 28
    Still looking for that perfect place to celebrate your birthday? You found it. Balena’s charming wine cellar immediately transports you to Tuscany and the authentic Italian food will do the rest. Read more
  • Erika D.
    Erika DavisJanuary 15
    I've been here for restaurant week 2015 for a date. Atmosphere is nice and friendly staff. Great choice for a romantic date.
  • Scot W.
    Scot WheelerSeptember 27, 2015
    Their barstaff are brilliant with amaro, an Italian herbal liquer. Service was very nice. Food was a bit average.
  • Raed M.
    Raed MansourJuly 14, 2015
    Service is impeccable! Great wine selection and food had a rustic, traditional feel. Really enjoyed it but only minor complaint is that music is a little too loud for a restaurant.
  • Molly L.
    Molly LynnJuly 5, 2015
    The kale & lemon orecchiette is amazing. The grilled octopus with romesco stands out as well. Great spot for more inventive Italian.
  • Kristin L.
    Kristin LukowskiJune 7, 2015
    Extensive wine list; ask for recommendations. Food was delicious, served quickly and accommodated special diets with no hassle. Friendly waiter never rushed us even as we were the night's last diners.
  • David S.
    David SmithJune 3, 2015
    Delicious cocktails. Spaghetti Western and Strawberry.
  • Leslie L.
    Leslie LulkaMay 31, 2015
    Try the sardine.. Awesome... And any pizza, I tried the sausage/mozzarella one and was outstanding,, great balance between flavors...
  • Alan W.
    Alan WeedApril 27, 2015
    Brussel Sprout Pizza is the best
  • Kevin D.
    Kevin DulinApril 19, 2015
    Delicious pizza and pasta. I recommend the pistachio pesto pizza and the rigatoni with pork ragu! The strawberry No1 cocktail is also delicious.
  • Teresa
    TeresaApril 2, 2015
    Absolutely delicious and the ambience is great. Skip the pizza and choose pasta (squid ink) and meaty mains (chicken breast was recently added back to the menu!) The tiramisu is to die for!!
  • Sara
    SaraFebruary 16, 2015
    Everything is delicious and the staff are fantastic.
  • Alex T.
    Alex TomasikNovember 29, 2014
    Tagliolini with sea urchin. Solid drinks. Pizza is good but rest of menu is great.
  • Wrigley F.
    Wrigley FielderOctober 2, 2014
    Trout is amazing-tripe bruschetta-not so much! Great wine list with lots of French and Italian wines.
  • Wrigley F.
    Wrigley FielderSeptember 22, 2014
    Just a wonderful, in-depth wine list served in big, beautiful stemmed wine glasses. Perfect for friends or a date especially before or after a Steppenwolf Theater show. The trout was delicious.
  • Esther S.
    Esther ShamieSeptember 21, 2014
    Orechiette pasta 😍😍 lemony, creamy goodness topped with bread crumbs
  • Dane D.
    Dane DeasyAugust 21, 2014
    I don't think you can go wrong with anything on the menu.
  • Matt C.
    Matt CosentinoAugust 7, 2014
    Tagliolini Nero
  • Giovanni S.
    Giovanni ScottiAugust 7, 2014
    Butter sage pasta!!
  • Redeye Chicago
    Redeye ChicagoAugust 3, 2014
    Chris Pandel of Bucktown favorite The Bristol channels the simplicity of Italian cooking with roasted meats, wood-fired pizzas and homemade pastas. Read more
  • Chicago Tribune
    Chicago TribuneAugust 1, 2014
    Potato gnocchi with beef heart Bolognese: know that the heart, makes for a wonderfully robust, tangy, meat sauce that, spread across a gentle bed of gnocchi, adds up to a soul-warming winter dish. Read more
  • Pam
    PamJuly 24, 2014
    The pork ragu rigatoni is delicious.
  • Tim A.
    Tim AdamsMay 31, 2014
  • Cat G.
    Cat GaoMay 10, 2014
    The rigatoni with pork ragu and porcini mushrooms is amazing, as is the affogato. Easy to find free parking on Clybourn (near its intersection with Halsted) anytime outside of 4-6pm M-F.
  • Erick N.
    Erick NeuMay 8, 2014
    Been here 10+ times
    A meal here is not complete without at least one pizza and pasta for the table
  • Mac V. W.
    Mac V. WallachJanuary 17, 2014
    Don't get the arugula salad. Incredibly salty. #springbreak4eva
  • Karyn T.
    Karyn TanisJanuary 2, 2014
    Cool Industrial space and ambiance.
  • Time Out Chicago
    Time Out ChicagoDecember 20, 2013
    The tagliolini nero at Balena is one of the 100 best things we ate this year. Read more
  • Blunt R.
    Blunt RobbinsDecember 13, 2013
    I was just across the street picking up a Wolf going to Kolmar
  • Serious Eats
    Serious EatsDecember 2, 2013
    It's hard to go wrong at this mega Italian joint in Lincoln Park. Both the pizza and pasta are top notch.
  • Brian R.
    Brian RydzNovember 22, 2013
    Everything is awesome
  • Cara
    CaraNovember 17, 2013
    Ask for waiter in the City!
  • Eric M.
    Eric MunnOctober 14, 2013
    Start the night off with one of their amazing vermouths and order one of their outstanding pizzas
  • Nick H.
    Nick HorkOctober 12, 2013
    If they still have it, the balena charcuterie board is a perfect mix for drinks and socializing.
  • Kenny H.
    Kenny HuntSeptember 16, 2013
    Amazing!!! Tasty and inviting!
  • Cristina D.
    Cristina DordasJuly 4, 2013
    Lovely restaurant. Don't miss the tagliolini nero and the tiramisu. It is to die for!
  • Mike G.
    Mike GonzalezJune 15, 2013
    Mushroom pizza was delicious! Excellent service great date night place! Small plates meant to be shared pastas were excellent specifically the pork shoulder pasta
  • Tatiana F.
    Tatiana F OMay 29, 2013
    In my opinion the best dish is the nero spaguetti and for dessert ask for tiramissu. Very good an italian restaurant.
  • Shari
    ShariMay 6, 2013
    Orichette, Hanger Steak, Canoli Sundae, & Mozzarella + Basil pizza with Chili sauce :-) :-)
  • Jessica K.
    Jessica KosturkoApril 24, 2013
    NYT article:
  • amanda
    amandaApril 22, 2013
    Been here 50+ times
    mmmmust haves: 1) smoked mackerel with soft egg starter. 2) pork ragu rigatoni. 3) tagliolini with crab and sea urchin.
  • Veronica H.
    Veronica HMarch 30, 2013
    Mortadella pizza with the pistachio pesto was amazing! And the pork ragu was surprisingly out of the box. Enjoy with a glass of barbera
  • Anna B.
    Anna BokunMarch 27, 2013
    Before I even sat down to my strawberry drinky drank, my eyes glazed over the somewhat rustic yet elegant decor. I enjoyed the large displays of dazzling tumbleweed hanging from the ceiling rafters.
  • Ashley A.
    Ashley AckermanFebruary 28, 2013
    The brown butter and sage pasta is one of the most flavorful and simple pastas I've ever tasted. Delicious.
  • Kate
    KateFebruary 17, 2013
    Upstairs is quieter spot to dine. Great wine list (bottle and by the glass). Mushroom pizza was amazing and make sure to save room for dessert.
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