Monday, September 24, 2012

The Restaurant That Keeps Me Coming Back... By: Bethany

Bethany hails from Albany Park and enjoys softball, football, reading and dining out in her free time. Her favorite foods include anything Latin inspired and she loves eating out because it allows her to take a mini vacation to a different culture, so she can feed her love of experimenting with new cuisines. She thinks Check, Please! is a great resource for checking out the restaurants people are talking about before you actually go there.

My favorite go to restaurant is called Al Dente located on Irving Park near Pulaski. It is a little off the beaten path, but it is probably one of the best restaurants you will go to in Chicago. This restaurant is one where you will never get bored. The owner Javier Perez has worked in some of the highest rated restaurants in Chicago such as Spiaggia and Cibo Matta. As a result, the cuisine offered at Al Dente is a little eclectic. It is influenced by Italian, French, and Mexican cuisines, which lends itself to the adventurous diner. The food is also served with only the freshest ingredients and creates a truly upscale dining experience.

This combination of influences results in some of the most tantalizingly delicious meals I have ever had in a restaurant. My personal favorite dish is the Lobster Ravioli, which is a little surprising because I would never have ordered that dish at any other restaurant. I was able to take the risk because the servers at Al Dente are both extremely knowledgeable and exceedingly patient with their diners. I am the type of diner who has a million questions and always asks for the servers recommendations. The way the ravioli was described left my mouth watering. A few other dishes that are musts include the gazpacho, salmon, and lamb. In reality, there is very little on the menu that you would not enjoy.

Perhaps, my favorite aspect of dining at Al Dente is the ambiance and laid back atmosphere. The restaurant is also a BYOB. From the moment you walk in you will see that most diners bring in a bottle (or two.) It is a great place for a nice intimate date for 2 but it also attracts big groups, as I have seen groups of 10+ people dining there. The servers are very attentive as they immediately come over to greet each table and chill and/or open wine once you arrive. They always try to gauge what type of experience you are looking for in the restaurant. If the meal needs to be quick, you can inform the server and they will instantly accommodate; if you want it to be long and intimate they can accomplish that as well.

One of the aspects I appreciate most about Al Dente is that it really is not an excessively expensive restaurant. Most entrees are between $20-$30 and the appetizers are all between $10-$15. In fact, the first time I went to the restaurant I was surprised at how little the bill was in comparison to my experience. Al Dente really has few equals in terms of their amazing food and experience, so it keeps me coming back.

Al Dente
3939 W. Irving Park Road 
Chicago, IL 60616
(773) 942-7771

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