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Bar Toma Shows Up Mag Mile Tourist Attractions

December 27 2011 - 10:12 AM

If there's one restaurant opening that people can't stop talking about, it has to be Tony Mantuano's Italian-style pizzeria in the spot of Bistro 110. But can a restaurant nuzzled next to Ghirardelli and across the street from Water Tower Place actually have quality food – without being over-priced? 

Bar Toma was much anticipated as a way to enjoy Spiagia-style food on a more casual night out. And fortunate for diners, the restaurant has accomplished exactly that. It even has an impressive, yet reasonably priced, wine list. Not only does Bar Toma deliver some inventive and delicious pizzas, but it also has a bar of mouth-watering gelato, espresso and breakfast pastries for the serious morning shopper or local. 

If you want the full experience, start off with the grand tasting of cheese, which comes with a few types of mozzarellas (flown in straight from Italy), crostini, olives, prosciutto and spreads. For the price, it isn't a ton of food. It's all about the experience, so order and share with a group. 

Whatever you order, don't neglect the bar plates. The seasonal standout was the charred carrots with tons of fresh herbs and spices, topped with goat cheese and balsamic. Other popular starters include meat skewers or large salads that work for sharing. 

No matter how hard you try, it's impossible to ignore that giant wood-burning oven in the middle of the restaurant. The talk is all about the unique pizza crust and char from the oven. Still, I think it's really the fresh and unusual varieties that make these pizzas a must-try. The Bomba has a special presentation – a giant round of baked dough is popped and served with olive oil and prosciutto. Since you're getting mostly dough, pass on this one and opt for something with more toppings like the capriole goat cheese pizza. This was the unanimous favorite at my table for its sweet flavor. It's topped with leeks, hazelnut, dates, thyme and balsamic. It's the kind of pizza you want to go back for.

And you'll want to save room for dessert. Two words: nutella pizelle. It's basically an upscale ice cream sandwich – just way better. You won't want to share this dessert.

If you're dining in or just stopping by, you can enjoy a scoop of housemade gelato. I've had my fair share of gelato, from Italy all the way back to Chicago, and this was one scoop I won't forget. You can indulge in any of the ordinary flavors, yet why do that when you can order balsamic gelato? It sounds weird. I think it really works though. Admittedly, I am a huge balsamic fan, yet this sweet and creamy gelato was truly addictive. Don't believe me? You'll just have to stop by mid-holiday shopping…or returns…and try it yourself. 

Bar Toma
110 E. Pearson
Chicago, IL 60611

–Marly Schuman 

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