Red sauce joints have been opening left and right in Chicago, and there are exactly zero questions why. After the two years we’ve had, who doesn’t need to face-plant into a bowl of rigatoni with vodka sauce or inhale a massive chicken Parm? Elina’s, a sliver of a storefront on an old-school Italian stretch in West Town, delivers that and more. Chefs Ian Rusnak and Eric Safin, who met while working at the New York restaurant Marc Forgione, offer an experience that’ll put anyone at ease (it’s also BYOB for now). As soon as you order, a volley of complimentary bites hits the table, from Roman-style pickled eggplant to “grandma bread” with tomato and mozz (remember the joys of free bread?). Rusnak and Safin know what else people want: a sprinkle of spicy Calabrian breadcrumbs over that housemade rigatoni, and garlic bread croutons studding the pitch-perfect Caesar. The service is exceptionally warm, and the single dessert is a cannoli from D’Amato’s Bakery, two blocks away, because, really, what else do you need? Some people have spa nights for self-care; we have Elina’s.
1202 W. Grand Ave., West Town