Humbly situated as it is between the windowless brick buildings of the Kinzie industrial corridor and the Metra line, you wouldn't expect Mart Anthony's (yes, it's Mart, not Marc) Italian restaurant and chop house to be a cloth-napkin-and-white-tablecloth establishment. However, the friendly neighborhood joint evokes little Italy, with Sinatra albums lining the walls, Mob Hits II in the jukebox and regulars lined up along the bar, and still is a classy enough place to take the folks for steak and pasta when they're in town. Dark wood and dim lighting make the back corner tables enticing, particularly if you're more interested in your dining companion than the distracting flat-screens above the bar.
Besides an extensive list of filets, chops and veal that range from $25 to $35, the menu includes familiar, moderately-priced traditional dishes—chickens vesuvio and parmigiana, gnocchi and ravioli—that fall between $12 and $17. My eggplant parmigiana, served with a side of penne, was as flavorful as it was immense—the marinara was tangy, sweet and divine—but I had trouble keeping my fork out of my roommate’s escarole (a hearty green) with white beans and sausage. Simple, hot and perfectly seasoned, the savory stew could have appeared next to the word "nourishing" in the dictionary. The service was old-world and friendly and, in perfect European form, our server didn't seem to think we should ever leave until we asked for the check.
Average cost: $31+
Centerstage Reviewer: Sharon Hoyer