Scarletti's Italian Kitchen
WHERE: 994 Warren Ave., Downers Grove
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday
DRESS CODE: Casual
INFO: www.scarlettis.com, 630-515-1400
(Note to readers July 24, 2014: The restaurant has closed.)
With its quaint setting and made-from-scratch fare, Scarletti's Italian Kitchen is a great escape, whether it be from wintry temps, a stressful workday or the craze of holiday shopping.
A colleague and I headed out to the downtown Downers Grove restaurant on a recent weeknight.
Once we stepped into the cozy restaurant, any leftover frustration from the rush hour traffic and chilly weather was replaced with ease from the warmly lit atmosphere and tasty scents wafting from Scarletti's kitchen.
The attractive dining room makes for an intimate setting, whether you're with a significant other, family, friends or a business partner, and overlooks the city right along Main Street with large windows.
Once seated, we soon were greeted with Scarletti's customary basket of bread and marinara dipping sauce. It was a nice change-up from the standard bread-and-oil setups at most Italian restaurants, and nearly made for an appetizer on its own. Still, we had to try the bruschetta appetizer, which proved a good call with its combination of fresh tomato and basil, prepared with a balsamic drizzle for added style and flavor points.
For our main courses, my colleague, in the mood for a hearty, home-cooked meal, opted for the Chianti Braised Short Ribs, an interesting selection he was very happy with.
The boneless short ribs are slathered in a red wine reduction sauce, served on a bed of whipped potatoes and topped with a seasonal vegetable puree.
I went with a classic that's a must-try for me whenever I dine at an Italian restaurant that's new to me: the Chicken Parmesan.
The entree had very generous portions of chicken breast and a side of pasta. The chicken was tender and its marinara sauce proved a perfect complement. If you're partial to Chicken Parmesan, be sure to give Scarletti's a try.
Other classic entrees on the menu include Chicken Vesuvio, Chicken Piccata and Roasted Salmon.
Diners have 11 pasta specialties to choose from, and a stellar Create Your Own Pasta list that lets you mix and match from nine different pastas, seven sauces and 15 toppings.
Scarletti's also serves pizza – dine-in and carry-out – for those looking for a pie on their commute home or before catching a flick at the classic Tivoli Theatre just steps away.
And for an added incentive to brighten your weeknights, Scarletti's features $10 pasta dishes on Tuesdays, and half-priced wines on Thursdays. The restaurant offers a full-service bar with cocktails, beer and wine.
Tip: Window tables will provide an especially great view of Main Street decorated for the holidays.
The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.