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Al Fresco Dining Italian West Loop

While our winter has been mild by Chicago standards, nothing sparks the imagination like patio dining season - and a few, short months from now, the yearly ritual will be upon us again. Let us take a look back and dig into a visual feast from our archives; Formento's in the West Loop has been busy recreating the menu of the Italian-American past - Chef Tony Quartaro and team's "red sauce joint" concept has been a hit with locals and we stopped by last summer to check it out. Here's what we saw!

* with a constantly rotating menu of Italian-American classics, don't expect to see much of what transpires below on your next trip to Formento's!

Al fresco is what they call it - and dining outside while the weather is warm makes for a pleasant evening. The antipasti plate is no slouch as we're greeted with an assortment of pickled Italian items like olives, beets and cauliflower.

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Formento's antipasti plate

Up next, Formento's riff on crostini (the little crusts!); their version comes with burrata, tomatoes, arugula and Italy's finest meats piled on crispy sesame bread.

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Crostino with Burrata

Nonna's Meatballs are a tradition on many Italian menus in Chicago. Formento's let's you drop them on just about anything, like this salad with tomatoes, chickpeas and a dusting of pecorino. Grandma knows best!

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Insalate con Nonna's Meatballs

Next, we dug into the Bucatini Carbonara - it's not all about the red sauce at Formento's. Their macaroni is homemade and the carbonara combines guanciale, a farm egg and pecorino romano. We never say no to yolky goodness.

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Bucatini Carbonara

A little know fact, Formento's grills their meats over cherry wood! Our ribeye comes medium-rare with grilled peperoncini.

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Ribeye Grilled over Cherry Wood

During the summer season at Formento's, a rotating menu of fish are steamed in parchment paper while doused in dill, lemon, onion and a variety of aromatics. The fingerling potatoes suffer a similar fragrant fate.

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Steamed Fish

Thank goodness our active summer lifestyle's let us add a guilt free treat! Formento's Chocolate Cake is a dessert menu staple with chocolate pudding and hazelnut praline.

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Formento's Chocolate Cake


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