This Hyde Park Italian restaurant has been a favorite of locals and University of Chicago students for years. From the outside, Piccolo Mondo (located in an old hotel) looks fairly innocuous; the only thing that would really let you know it's a restaurant is its garish neon sign hanging above the front door. Walk inside and you'll find spare and efficient, but comfortable, seating perfect for people watching from the nearby Museum of Science and Industry
, or folks rushing to get to class. Piccolo Mondo is also known to be a hangout for U of C cognoscenti. So if you're the type of person who looks at Nobel Laureates and academic superstars like others look at starlets, you'll feel right at home.
The menu at Piccolo Mondo includes all the staples of a classic Chicago Italian restaurant. Antipasti options include bruchetta, a delectable roasted red pepper appetizer drizzled in olive oil, and an antipasto platter that shouldn't qualify as an appetizer. Dishes like spaghetti carbonara and rigatoni alla cablo are intended to stick to the ribs. The house dish is the fusilli piccolo mondo, served with pancetta, chicken, and house pasta sauce.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Chuck Sudo