|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."