Brendan Sodikoff Does it Again!

February 5, 2015

I'm a huge fan of restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff. In my opinion, the man can do no wrong. Every one of his restaurants that I've visited, including Au Cheval, Bavette's, Green Street Smoked Meats, Gilt Bar, and Maude's Liquor Bar, are wonderful. And can we talk about my obsession with The Doughnut Vault? I love it so much I chose it as the location for a Ghost Guest photo shoot!

Everything Sodikoff touches turns to gold, so when his River North Italian concept Cocello opened last spring, I knew I had to check it out. Cocello is in the former Dillman's space which closed last April. I stopped by on a Saturday night and the place was hoppin'. The restaurant is very dark and warm--perfect during these frigid Chicago temps. First of all, the bread here is unbelievable. I know my carbs, and this is the place to carb load. The Sicilian Toasted Fennel bread is to die for and I believe is the same bread served at Bavette's.

The menu is divided into antipasti, salads, pastas, meats, seafood, and "Big Chicago Italian" entrees and has changed quite a bit since the restaurant opened. We started with fried polenta topped with a poached egg, shaved truffle, and parmigiano reggiano. All of those ingredients combined is a no brainer. This was rich and aromatic, and I loved the oozing egg on top.

Polenta Fritta with Poached Egg & Truffle
Polenta Fritta with Poached Egg & Truffle
For the three of us dining, we figured three main dishes to share was plenty. We were right! Cocello makes all of their pastas by hand and you can certainly taste the freshness. We tried two: the spaghetti and meatballs (sounds boring but is exactly the opposite), and the pasta all'amatriciana with pork cheek, chili, and parmigiano reggiano. The pastas were full of hearty flavor, and the sauces, oh the sauces! Those were perfect for dipping the fennel bread!

The Spread!
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Pasta all'Amatriciana
Rounding out our entrees was the stuffed pork belly with rosemary and roasted garlic. This was melt-in-your-mouth, fatty, and delicious. Sadly, it appears to no longer be on the menu! Maybe we were the only ones who liked it?!

Porchetta with Rosemary and Roast Garlic
Cocello also has a reasonably priced wine list which made our dinner quite affordable for the three of us. In my opinion, Cocello lives up to the reputation of Brendan Sodikoff's other establishments (I'd expect nothing less!). I'll be back to check out the newer menu offerings, pastas, and hopefully next time I'll save room for dessert!

I'm giving Cocello 4.5 ghosts out of 5 for its handmade pastas, warm ambiance, and that bread!

354 W. Hubbard Street
Chicago, IL 60654
Cocello on Urbanspoon

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