Otto Mezzo, (311 W. Chicago Ave., River North) barely looks like a bar from the street: The windows are darkened and covered by elaborate metal grates, and the only indication that anything interesting is going on inside is a minimalist blue neon sign over the door.

Inside, it's a Fellini-esque hideaway (the bar's name roughly translates to 8½). Cocktails and bar bites suggest their Italian inspiration rather than shout it. There are plenty of artful details as well, like Art Deco fixtures, impressive murals, and massive, drippy candles. If you plan on stopping by, rest up beforehand: The bar opens at 8:30 p.m., but apparently things don't really pick up until way after midnight.

Here's what all we saw when we stopped in.