by Steve Vandervroot
A new place to dine in the LCA area is always a cause for
celebration, and La
Trattoria del Merlo, located at 1967 N
Halsted, tel. 312-951-8200 adds another great choice to our
neighborhood's list of outstanding eating establishments.
Specializing in Northern Italian cuisine, the restaurant is
an informal, family friendly place that caters to our local
residents. Its atmosphere can be characterized as busy, but
also casual, and relaxed. It's one of the few restaurants
in the area that's open for lunch, a real boon for local business
owners who are looking for a good place to conduct a business
The owners, Silvia Marani and Gampolo Sassi, grew up in Bologna,
Italy, but about ten years ago had an opportunity to visit
Chicago when one of their children was attending school here.
They fell in love with the city and decided to move here permanently
and open a restaurant. Eight years ago they opened Merlo-
La Salumeria on Lincoln Avenue, and soon after opened another
restaurant on Maple Street. La Trattoria del Merlo, their
third venture, opened on Halsted in December, 2008. Merlo,
by the way, refers not to a wine, but to a small black bird
common to the area around Bologna.
Silvia and Gampolo bring with them a strong tradition of
Italian cuisine, stressing only the freshest of ingredients.
During the summer months they often visit the Lincoln Park
Farmers' Market on Saturdays to select the choicest seasonal
fruits and vegetables. All pastas are made by hand in their
own kitchen. Seafood is flown in each day to insure that there
is always a fresh catch on hand. Culinary staples are flown
in from Bologna.
The restaurant has three separate dining areas. The front,
facing the street is always open. Its main feature is a large
rotisserie where you may be able to see your meal cooked to
order. The back room is a bit more intimate and is suitable
for private parties. There's also a lower level, next to the
wine cellar, that's available for private parties, business
meetings, wedding rehearsal dinners, etc.
In short, a meal here can be a great experience! In order
to encourage you to see for yourself, Silvia and Gampolo are
offering a dessert of your choice to anyone who brings in
a copy of this LCA newsletter. One dessert per table, please.