A couple of weeks ago Cheryl (a.k.a. Mrs. G-Gnome, her scientific code name) mentioned one of her co-workers came up with an idea of using the Chicago Eater’s “Eater 38” list of restaurants to explore some new places. Sounded like a good idea, restaurants are added and dropped when the list is updated every few months so you can never really finish it. First stop for the “Eater 38 Club” was Anteprima in Andersonville. Delicious Italian food, cozy space, and the prix fixe menu (available from Sunday through Thursday) is great deal. For $30 you get to choose three items from the menu such as starter, entrée, dessert; or starter, pasta, entrée. And you weren’t limited to the main menu. All of the nightly specials were options as well. I like this a lot. You can get an appetizer AND your pasta course!
After being seated the staff welcomed us with some focaccia-like bread topped with vegetables. Since one of our dining party was running late I seized the opportunity and ate his piece too. Once settled we ordered our appetizers. The most popular at our table was the grilled octopus. It was by far the most tender grilled octopus I’ve ever had. Since half the table ordered the octopus I went with one of the specials, arancini neri, fried black risotto balls in a marinara sauce with shrimp. The arancini were wonderfully light and crispy and the shrimp was perfectly cooked, tender just like the octopus. I’ve found that most anything “neri” or “nero” in Italian cooking involves squid ink so I’m guessing it was an ingredient here. Now I’m a sucker for squid ink (yeah, pun intended) and if I see it in a dish on a menu I’ll most likely get it. However, I’ve found it’s a delicate balance. Too much can ruin what you’ve ordered. Not so with these. Very mild, which was surprising and left me guessing if they even used any at all!
One item I need to mention is Cheryl and I always compare each other’s dishes when we’re out to see whose was better. It’s a playful competition, but a competition nonetheless (she always wants to win!). The apps were a toss-up, and even though the octopus was the tenderest I’ve had I’m not throwing the anacini under the bus! (Side note: I used “most tender” above to describe the octopus and the computer recommended I use “tenderest.” Now I use “tenderest” and it tells me it isn’t a word. I give up.)
For the pasta course pasta I ordered the spaghetti with guanciale and Cheryl had the orechiette with housemade lamb sausage. This round definitely goes to her choice. Mine was good but hers was just better, I think the lamb sausage made the difference. It was veeeery similar to Spanish chorizo and had a nice touch of heat.
On to round 3! I went with the duck breast special. It was accompanied by some greens, sautéed diced apple, and an amazing sweet potato puree which was so silky smooth it was like a mouthful of velvet (or silk even). The medium rare duck was juicy and had a nice layer of the flavorful fat which makes you a duck lover to begin with. Cheryl had an order of braised pork shoulder which pulled apart at the slightest touch and was tender. As a whole I think my duck was the better of the two but hers was also, once again, right there with it. To finish we ordered a lemony panna cotta for the table which was a perfect way to end the dinner.
Wish I could remember the name of the montepulciano we had with dinner but it looks like they sold out of it, it’s not on this week’s wine list and I didn’t write it down. Throughout dinner the waitstaff was attentive and very courteous. Anteprima definitely goes onto the return visit list. All in all a very enjoyable dining experience and good start for the Eater 38 Club!