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Vivere Dining Room - Italian Village Chicago


Vivere - Italian Village


71 West Monroe Street 



Winner of Wine Spectator Grand Award


Founded in 1927 and still owned by the Capitanini family, this mecca for Italian food and wine actually includes three restaurants.

Wine Spectator says, One of America's 10 Best Italian Restaurants. "Vivere is the upper-end restaurant of three in the Italian Village, a complex in Chicago's revitalizing Loop district.  It sports a lively interior recently redesigned by Jordan Mozer, best known for the surrealistic interior of the former Iridium (now Merlot) in New York.  Such eclectic touches as conical light fixtures appear chockablock with gilded scrolls and stained-glass ceilings.  It's a fun space, my only complaint being that the low-ceilinged loft is too dim for reading the menu or wine list easily. 

From Esquire's Tenth Annual Selections
The Best New Restaurants of 1991 
By John Mariani  November, 1991. 

"Depending on what you're used to in Italian restaurants, you'll either love or hate the decor at Vivere, an amazing new establishment constructed within the core of Chicago's venerable old Italian Village.  Three generations of the Capitanini family have kept this landmark thriving, weathering every food fad of the last fifty years by serving up plenty of good lasagna and pizza and by stocking one of this country's great wine cellars.  But the current generation of Capitaninis sought to update the family legacy by emulating the newer regional styles of Italian cuisine.  Vivere is the result:  a sprawling, eccentric, two-level $1.5 million dining room designed by Jordan Mozer, full of baroque spirals in textured plaster, stalactite cones everywhere, wrought-iron stair rails and custom-made chairs, stained-glass windows, and lots of witty elements, like a chandelier cut from a boiler head. 

 It's quite an eyeful and quite a gamble for a place known more for its Christmas lights and Neapolitan murals than for post-modern rococo.  Whatever your reaction to the decor, you cannot but be impressed by the talent of chef Peter Schonman, whose training at some of the top ristoranti in Italy is evident in everything he prepares:  a wild mushroom soufflé with cream and onion, sea scallops with arugula, tortelli pasta with ricotta, lentils, and radicchio, pheasant-stuffed agnolotti, and stuffed veal chop with ricotta, fontina, garlic, and sage.  Desserts like panna cotta with caramel sauce and nougat or chocolate cake with cappuccino sauce are among the most dazzling in town.  If you have time for only one meal in Chicago this year, make it amid the quirky splendor of Vivere." 

Rick's Rating:  
  Atmosphere 4/5
  Food 4/5
  Service 4/5
  Wine 5/5
  Overall 17/20
Journal entries: Date, Wine, Rating, Price, Comments
Jan 2, 2004 - Raimondi Villa Monteleone Campo San Paolo Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 1995 RM 92 $59 (Sam's) $82.50 (Winelist)  Huge nose and flavor of rich super ripe raisiny currant and mineral with a long full finish that is full of mineral with hints of eucalyptus. Full rich fruit reflects vinification process of aging and drying the fruit for full ripeness. Tasted at the Vivere dining room in Chicago's Italian Village. We then found this wine at Sam's Wine Warehouse. Enjoyed with Linda, Erin & Chris after visiting Manet and the Sea exhibit at Art Institute of Chicago.

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