photo: courtesy vivere

The décor is over the top, sure. But a solid menu and huge wine list make up for the shock you get upon entering Vivere.

Vivere (Italian Village, 71 W. Monroe St., 312-332-4040). Italian.


$$$ ($40–$49 per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)

The circus décor could hardly be more dated, but sharing a laugh at its expense is part of the fun at this pretheatre warhorse.

Fortunately the menu offers less ersatz pleasures. The crab cake is a fine start. Pastas might include chestnut pappardelle with hearty wild boar ragu and tortelli with meaty mushrooms, but mains seem the way to go—moist roast chicken with rosemary cream in particular. With banana two ways on the menu (brûléed and as banana cake), be sure to leave time, and room, for dessert. A huge wine list has something for everyone.

Dishes We Liked: crab cake ($15), tortelli with mushrooms ($23), pappardelle with wild boar ragu ($24), roast chicken with rosemary cream and seasonal vegetables ($23), bananas two ways ($9.50)

New restaurant reviews, updated to reflect critics’ recent visits, appear each month in Chicago magazine, in Dine, as well as on our website. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. Vivere maintained its one-star rating in the June issue, on newsstands now.