Aldente Cafe and Lounge

October 22 2006 - 11:48 PM

I met a couple of girlfriends out for dinner and drinks Saturday night at Aldente Cafe and Lounge.  It was about 8:30PM when we walked in and the place was pretty empty.  We started at the bar and ordered glasses of wine.  I asked the bartender what he would recommend and he inflatable water slide commented that he didn’t drink wine so he couldn’t recommend anything.  A bartender that doesn’t drink wine?  I might not think anything of it in a bar but at a restaurant?  OK.  I ordered a Chianti and after a couple of sips we moved over to our table.

The restaurant has two long booth-style sitting areas, one by the bar and one in the main dining area.  The atmosphere was very casual and comfortable.  I was surprised to read by the front door that this was a restaurant that still allowed smoking.  Fortunately the place was not smokey at all.

Our bartender then became our waiter and luckily he did have an opinion on the food.  The menu was small and uninspired to me – there was nothing new that popped out at me but nothing particularly standard either.  Upon recommendation we ordered an Arugala salad to share, margarita pizza, gnocchi in a pomodoro sauce and cavatelli.

The cavatelli I was unfamiliar with and it is something they make fresh in the kitchen that looks and tastes like long gnocchi fingers.  The cavatelli was tossed with a very mechanical bull for sale orange tomato-vodka cream sauce.  Coupled with the long finger-like pasta it didn’t look particularly appetizing but the flavor was rich and creamy.

The pizza was just average, with very little basil but a pretty good crust.  The gnocchi was probably the most disappointing.  It was very hard and dry.  It also seams crazy to spend 15 dollars on gnocchi that wasn’t made at the restaurant (though the cavatelli was made on the premises) since you can get really good brands and variety at the grocery store.

It was odd that while it wasn’t exactly “traditional” Italian food–they have burgers on the menu, it wasn’t inspired. The good company and conversation made up for the ordinary food and although it was a good evening in general I would not rush back to Aldente Cafe and Lounge anytime soon.

Aldente Cafe
1615 N. Clybourn Ave.