Spotlight on Spiaggia

spiaggiaIf there’s one thing that Chicago’s never lacking, it’s excellent Italian cuisine, but if you’re looking for a top-notch meal in an unparalleled setting, no place does it like the only 4-star Italian restaurant in Chicago: Spiaggia.

Located right here on Oak Street, Spiaggia offers a dining experience that attracts some of the most sophisticated tasters and tastemakers from Chicago and the world.

Let’s explore just what it is that sets Spiaggia apart from the masses of Italian restaurants in the city.

The History

Larry Levy, of the famed & acclaimed Levy Restaurants, founded Spiaggia 30 years ago at 980 N. Michigan Avenue with the goal of becoming Chicago’s premiere destination for upscale Italian dining.

And in the last 3 decades, he’s done just that – movie stars, famous musicians and even well-known political figures have dined at Spiaggia.  In fact, it’s commonly known that the restaurant is a local favorite of President Obama.

But, famous diners aside, the most important element has always been the quality of cuisine offered to every guest. Executive chefs Tony Mantuano and Chris Marchino have honed the craft of modern Italian dining by studying the history of the great food of the mother country as well as constantly innovating the direction it’s headed.

The Chefs

James Beard award winner, (excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education in the United States) and executive chef partner Tony Mantuano makes up half of the main leadership at Spiaggia. He is internationally renowned for his expertise in modern Italian dining.

Outside of Spiaggia and his other accomplishments, Mantuano’s other major claim to fame is his stint on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters show, in which he certainly did both his city and his restaurant quite proud.

Chris Marchino was added to the Spiaggia cast in late 2013, but has become an integral part of the restaurant since then.  As a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and a passionate student of Northern Italian cuisine, Marchino has recently been named one of Zagat’s 30 under 30 of the Culinary World, a true honor for such a young chef.


Recently, an overhaul of both the dining room and the menu has put a new face on the classic restaurant, making it a bit more modern and fresh.  Though always loyal to history, this modern restaurant seeks to remain current and relevant as times change.

The re-imagined Spiaggia is attracting more and more new admirers every day. It goes way beyond new décor and a new ambiance – the whole experience has changed.  One of the standout changes is the Spiaggia lounge, where you can drop in to casually relax and enjoy small plates without reservations.

There is also a new focus on that impressive wine collection, which is now placed prominently in glass wine walls that flank the host stand.  This new set-up as well as the addition of expert sommelier Rachael Lowe make it clear to all who enter that Spiaggia respects the vino just as much as the food.

If you peruse any Chicago restaurant guide, you’ll be overwhelmed with options for Italian food, there’s no doubt about that.  But if you’re looking for a meal and an experience with international acclaim, Spiaggia ought to be your very first stop.

After all, it’s not every day that you can say that the president’s favorite chef made your dinner, is it?

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