Agnolotti with ramps and Calabrian chile Photos: Jeff Marini

Ah, Spiaggia. Is any restaurant in Chicago more irritatingly perfect? Tony Mantuano’s Italian bastion holds fast on the corner of Chicago’s two poshest streets, enjoying annual James Beard love, boasting a Top Chef winner in the kitchen (executive chef Joe Flamm), and benefiting from the deep pockets of the Levy restaurant group. Every ingredient, every fixture in the soaring Mag Mile room is carefully considered and meticulously sourced.

Yet no matter how many awards Spiaggia racks up or how many trophy bottles of Brunello di Montalcino it stockpiles in its glassed-in, temperature-controlled wine room, it’s impossible to resent the place. For 34 years, the restaurant has traded on a particularly appealing brand of luxury. It’s a world where delicate handmade bucatini mingles with caviar and honey, where the dry-aged porterhouse comes with an absurd truffle hollandaise, where patrons spread fresh-whipped ricotta on golden loaves of bread from Floriole while sipping Ligurian Vermentino and observing the silver waters of Lake Michigan. It’s over the top, and yet each detail is attended to with the utmost grace and care. After all these years, Spiaggia continues to be Chicago’s—and maybe America’s—best Italian restaurant.

A chef making corzetti
Spaghetti alla chitarra with fresh tomatoes and basil