Chicago >Food & Dining > Pane Caldo
72 E Walton St, Chicago, IL | Directions 6061141.900014 -87.625599
Neighborhoods: Central, Near North Side
Still a Hidden Treasure – Your presence is irrelevant. If a tree falls in the forest, air is forced away from impact no matter if your eardrums vibrate. And so Pane Caldo remains one of the city's finest restaurants despite the fact that you have never eaten there and probably never will.
Economics is a dismal science. Ask people with that misspent education (author included) and they'll probably spew off some happy horse-poopy about supply and demand and equilibrium and production and distribution and Zeus knows what else. It'll surely be enough syllables to beat the vindaloo out of India. But bet you anything they'll forget "consumption" which happens to be our special expertise. What do you think "consumer" is for Allah's sake? Unfortunately, due to low demand for Pane's tables, (we were, and frequently are, the only party in the restaurant) prices cannot find equilibrium until they reach the level of 4-star dining. Even more unfortunately, the service rarely scrapes beyond 2.5. If you are the only table at the place, you might get 3 but not always. A shame, because if ever there was a case where food outshines the service by 2 standard deviations, it is Pane Caldo.
The margherita pizza tasted like the tomatoes were just plucked down from the vine. If you have ever visited Seattle's Pike Place Market in the summer and had the guy cut you a slice of freshly-ripe tomato you would know what I mean. Where in Odin's name did they get them at this time of year? And why is everyone else in Chicago using the same pasty crap they toss on my Subway club? Pane Caldo must have their own greenhouse because the sauce seemed one with the tomatoes but thicker - like a tomato smoothie - hey it's a fruit after all! The cheese was freshly shorn and baked a few degrees shy of crispy like on a fine bowl of French Onion soup. We devoured it with no regard for the damage boiling tomatoes do to roofs of mouths. It was that good.
Pane's pasta is divine. There is nothing like it anywhere. Yeah, I'm talking to you La Scarola and Carmine's fans. Not even at Spiaggia. Pane's is cooked with the light of Horus and the same tomatoes sliced on ZZa go into the sauce. But don't feel obligated to stick to red-based sauces. A friend, with insider information, always orders the asparagus tortellini. They make it for her despite its rare appearance on the dinner menu. She ordered it today and sweeter was its taste than all the rivers of milk and honey in the Kingdom of Jehovah.
With a sushi restaurant, a good barometer of quality is the spicy tuna roll. Long the trash receptacle of tuna unfit for consumption, chefs would mix these dregs with spicy mayo and VIOLIN! You have another way to charge 10 dollars! No longer would they throw away the sinews by the tail or the brown stuff sitting out a night. In with the mayo and good as sold! But a good place uses good tuna even though no one can tell through the mayo-spicy goop. Sure, it's like ordering a Bloody Mary with fine vodka but if we pay for it why should the chef care that we can't taste for what we're paying?
And so, at Pane Caldo, the barometer is not the Maggiano mound but the finished plate. They all go back clean. And the inadequacy of all the tables' bread to mop up the last possible drop of amazing, delectable, orgasmic sauce makes many leave their table manners up on Rush Street. I don't care. Tomato sauce looks good on my tie. Tastes even better.
Romantic Dinner to Impress – If you're celebrating an anniversary, or perhaps popping the BIG question Pane Caldo's front table overlooking Walton street is extremely romantic with a private feel. The service is impeccable with delicious Italian cuisine. I enjoyed the fresh fish prepared neatly with a rich sauce that was not overpowering. This restaurant is defiantly a romantic spot worth splurging.
great dissapointment – total ripoff ... if you have money to waste this is the best place for you. Worst quality/price ratio ever ...
Very disappointing rip off – Applebee's quality at TRU prices. Invited by friends who know good food upon recommendation of a friend of theirs. Bread awful & cold (ironically so on both counts given the restaurant's name). Salads at $18 apiece were tasteless, uninspired in terms of ingredients and dressing, and very small. My entre, a take off on Fruiti di Marmi (seafood pasta) was a clump of overcooked Spinach fettuccine with overcooked, rubbery seafood. Portion was decent, but who cared? At $38, a complete rip off. My wife had Halibut. We leave the comment at the 7/8s of the food she left over. Again, $38. My profitterole dessert was quite good, too small to really share, and $12. The cappuccinos were, however, excellent. Fair wine (my choice) at $65 and the bill with tip and wine (no other beverages ordered) was $420. Go if you've heard otherwise, but don't say you weren't warned.
Not what we expected – My husband and I dined there last night, and, were somewhat disappointed. We had a reservation and were seated immediately upon arriving. The hostess was lovely, very kind, and friendly, and the restaurant itself is warm, cozy, and upscale. We were, however, seated inbetween 2 couples who weren't mindful of the close proximity of each table. The gentleman sitting next to my husband, had quite a foul mouth, which we found surprising given how much money he talked about having. The couple on the other side discussed their passion for each other, which we were forced to listen to. The food is just so-so, and in our opinion way overpriced. I had the risotto with lobster and saffron sauce, and while it was good, it wasn't at all worth the $42 pricetag. A glass of Grey Goose & soda water w/lime will run you $17, and, if you want a bottle of wine be prepared to spend $100 at minium. It was a good meal, but, not worth the high price.
Chicago's Most Outstanding Restaurant – Chicago's most outstanding restaurant and one of the Nation's best!!! Excellent food, lovely presentation, taste , texture, in an cozy, intimate setting. Richard is an excellent manager and knowledgeable wine lover with very helpful recommendations (within every budget) for wonderful food:wine parings. Ask for the Irish born waiter Michael who will surely cater to your personal needs and likes/dislikes. A wonderful experience for first time and return food/wine/ambiance lovers. An attractive bar and sumptuous wine list (one of the most complete in the Midwest). A GREAT experience you will want to repeat again and again. Pane Caldo rarely advertises and the knowledgeable locals and repeat out-of-town guests treat the restaurant as their Private Club. Enjoy!!!
Fresh tastes better! – This spot is a little trapped in the 80's (spotlites, hazy kitchen smoke, artwork) but great service and excellent food. Freshest seafood and produce. Pricey, but tasty.
Great risotto with mushrooms and winter truffles, excellent tilapia and monkfish. Grilled shrimp appitizer just OK. Found a decent Pouilly-Fuisse for $74, but overall wine is very expensive. Housemade bread and olive tapenade / basil tomato bruschetta AWESOME.
High-quality Gold Coast Italian fare that's perfect for impressing clients and out-of-town guests. – The Scene
Quietly posh, tiny Pane Caldo might have been helicoptered in from Milan in one piece. A refined attitude complements the understated setting--and the power brokers and Gold Coast ladies who dine here wouldn't have it any other way. Polished service appropriately matches the high-end prices.
Quality ingredients (organic produce and meats, wild fish) are artfully combined and presented. For starters, a salad of fresh king crab (in season), baby Asian greens and asparagus is bathed in a subtly sweet white-peach dressing; several varieties of sauteed fresh wild mushrooms are perfectly prepared. Tortellini filled with ingredients such as corn or acorn squash and ricotta revels in an earthy, bisque-like wild ramp sauce. For dessert, there's the popular trio of chocolate cakes, plus an extensive selection of cheeses.
banker – Excellent food, very good service. The best seared tuna, the sea bass is a must. I have been several times at Pane Caldo, it's probably one of the best that Chicago can offer.
A big expensive disappointment – Waitress and hostess were indifferent. Wine list was too expensive - most bottles well over $90. Food was big disappointment, given the high price. Our salad for $11 consisted of six leaves of arugala and two shavings of beet. The mushroom antipasti for $19 was an unremakable half cup of sauteed mixed wild mushrooms. For $17, our other antipasti - grilled calamari and prawn - was one shrimp and three baby squid sitting in a bath of olive oil. Our entrees could only be considered good if served cafeteria-style for $5.95 at Bob's Big Boy. I had the lamb loin for $39 which - served medium rare - was dry, shrivled and tasteless (i.e. reheated), paired with runny mashed potatoes. My wife ordered the seared turbo and scallop for $37 which was bland, unappealing in appearance and so salty you could taste the sea, not the food.
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