4 Things to Eat at Balena

April 13 2012 - 9:15 AM

BalenahazelnutHigh ceilings, rustic wood and wine glasses constantly being filled are just a few things you’ll find at new BOKA restaurant Balena. You’ll also find some impeccable Italian small plates as well as standout desserts from pastry chef (and Top Chef Just Desserts alum) Amanda Rockman. Aside from the stellar ambiance, here are a few dishes you shouldn’t miss.

  1. Peter’s Bread
    It seems obvious to order the bread basket, but it’s easy to miss the options of cheese, cured meat and bread at the top of the menu. You might even want to get The Balena, which will provide a tasting of all meats, cheese and breads. For just $5, you’ll get a great sampling of all of the breads along with a few unique dipping sauces. The whipped ricotta didn’t disappoint, and either did the garlic anchovy sauce. You might as well go all out by starting off your carb-filled meal with a bang.

  •  Zingerman’s Burrata, Roasted Beets and Celery Root
    The appetizers all offer unique combinations of ingredients, and this dish is no different. The soft and creamy burrata cheese perfectly complements the sharp, sweet flavor of the beets. This dish is colorful, light and a delicious way to begin your meal.
  • Orecchiette, Lemon, Kale, Bread Crumbs, Chili
    The orecchiette pasta isn’t the easiest to find at your average Italian joint, but this little ear-shaped pasta is worth seeking out. It soaks in all the flavor from the lemon and a bit of spice from the chili. We found this pasta to be simple, yet a standout dish. The bread crumbs didn’t hurt either.
  •  Hazelnut Gelato Sundae
    This is not your ordinary sundae. It’s hard to pick just one favorite dessert from Amanda Rockman’s amazing list of creations. This is a must-try for the nutella and chocolate lover.  The hazelnut gelato is topped with perfectly toasted hazelnuts, delicious hazelnut amaretti sandwich cookies and a nutella creme. It’s crunchy, smooth and you won’t want to share.

1633 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 867-3888

–Marly Schuman