The team behind Logan Square’s beloved Osteria Langhe is opening a fast-casual concept about a mile away, in the short-lived Baocos space under the Blue Line stop. Debuting today, Animale (1904 N. Western Ave., Logan Square, 872-315-3912) offers imaginative yet casual Italian fare such as pasta, panini, and pezzi (off-cuts of meat) for under $15.
“Following the trend of fine-dining places that do a more casual version, we wanted a more approachable place to reach people that can’t afford Langhe,” says owner Aldo Zaninotto.
Zaninotto and Osteria Langhe chef Cameron Grant tapped Scott Becker (yes, also of Osteria Langhe) as chef de cuisine. The only menu imports from the Piedmontese older-sister restaurant are the famous plin (served with pancetta and peas at Animale) and the panna cotta dessert.
Other highlights include arancini (fried risotto balls) with pink peppercorn basil cream; a carbonara sandwich with housemade pancetta, caramelized onions in cream sauce, Parmesan, and a sunny-side egg; and a double burger with fontina and savage (spicy bone marrow) sauce. Some of the off-cuts Becker will feature include wagyu beef tongue with puttanesca ragu and burnt leeks, and blood sausage in puff pastry—paired with familiar flavors to make them more accessible.
“The great thing about Chicagoans [is] they will try anything—they’re really open to new tastes,” Zaninotto says.
Despite the carnivorous-sounding name and tagline (“one that feeds itself to survive”), there are vegetarian options, too. Beer, wine, and cocktails will follow once Animale gets its liquor license; it’s BYOB in the meantime.
The 60-seat restaurant sports a woodland-inspired interior, open kitchen, and counter service–style ordering. Rather than hiring servers, chefs double as wait staff because “who better than the cooks to understand the food?” says Zaninotto. He’s right on target there.