I moved back to Lakeview recently, and one thing I remembered from before was the perpetually long line outside Mia Francesca. Somehow my group was able to snag a table at 7:00 on a Friday after a Cubs game with only a twenty-minute wait, for which we were very grateful to the maitre d'.
Despite living in Chicago for almost five years I never managed to eat at Mia Francesca's flagship location. I tried Francesca's at Bryn Mawr in Edgewater a couple times, and the food was quite good. The Francesca name appears to have branched out, and it piqued my curiosity to do some digging: I counted seventeen restaurants on their web site, thirteen of which are conveniently located in the suburbs.
Our server, Felix, was very peppy and somewhat over-the-top, but in a good way, and not too pushy. I was impressed by his ability to handle our table without writing our orders down. He was very knowledgeable and eager to help. Our waters were filled up frequently as well, an acrobatic exercise given the lack of distance between tables.
My starter, paired with a nice Montelpulciano, was a generously-portioned Carpaccio con Carciofi, served with tomatoes, artichokes, capers, and mushrooms. The raw sirloin was only lightly dusted with olive oil and what they said was Parmigiano Reggiano but it looked and tasted different for some reason. This was nice and light, not too oily or cheesy (although I love oily and cheesy).
The main course was a Ravioli con Spinaci, which was spinach-filled with a four cheese sauce mixed with tomato. It was also delicious and the sauce was nice. My wife's Gnocchi alla Bavosa was decent, though not quite as memorable, served with a tomato basil sauce, and with mozzarella, olive oil, and parmesan.
Dessert we had the tartufo cappucino, a giant-sized, rich delectable chocolate -cappucino mousse dish that left us pining for more.
Prices are very reasonable at Mia Francesca, and the place is worth the wait. Though I can think of more memorable Italian food in the same price range, its crowd-pleasing entrees are great for those who like a mixture of old-school Italian-American as well as more authentic Italian.
3311 N. Clark