Above:Beet agnolotti

A kid from the northwest suburbs has quietly evolved into one of Chicago’s pasta savants. At his pleasant little brick-walled restaurant, Joe Frillman spins humble dough into endlessly fulfilling plates (a skill he honed as chef de cuisine at Balena). For the red beet agnolotti, he poaches and purées beets, blends them with cheese, encases the mixture in pasta, sprinkles on poppy seeds, and adds a dab of crème fraîche coiffed with smoked trout roe. Frillman keeps the restaurant intimate and familial: The striking watercolors of fruits and vegetables on the walls are by Frillman’s sister, and much of the restaurant’s produce comes from Frillman’s brother’s farm in Prairie View, Illinois. The kitchen takes bold risks across the menu—carrot rillettes, chicken-fried rutabaga—but few come close to the pasta heroics.

Don’t miss:A stellar nonpasta option: caramelized leeks ($13) puckered up with mustard hollandaise.