Go for the pasta at Gio
1631 Chicago Avenue, Evanston
Hours: 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
(847) 869-3900 or see giorestaurant.com
Updated: May 29, 2012 2:50PM
“I’m one of the last restaurants alive that make their own pasta,” said Giovanni Garelli, owner of Gio in Evanston.
Half-Italian on his mother’s side and half-Spanish on his father’s, Garelli knows a thing or two about pasta. His Italian, white-cloth establishment has nine different pastas on the menu, six of which are made in-house, including: the gnocchi, macaroni, fettuccine, pappardelle, the flat lasagna noodles and all the stuffed variations like ravioli, cannelloni and mezzalunas.
“Gio IS pasta,” said Garelli.
Pasta number one, pizza number two and entrees? “I don’t know if you know this but Italians are not known for their entrees. It’s a peasant food,” said Garelli.
Despite this dubious endorsement from the owner, there are nevertheless a number of delicious mainstays of Gio which plays more with northern Italian dishes in homage to Garelli’s heritage. He estimates that the spread is roughly 80/20 of northern Italian cuisine to regional.
The Insalata Caprese is made with Gio’s homemade mozzarella cheese rolled with marinated sundried tomatoes, basil and olives ($6).
He serves Grilled baby octopus with escarole and red wine glaze ($8).
The honey-balsamic glazed Atlantic salmon is seared on both sides to give it a crispness and seal in the glaze, then baked in the oven to finish. Served with fingerling potatoes, celery and pancetta, Garelli calls it just real “good, Italian medicine” ($16).
The salad pizza is made
of Italian flour and the dough is rolled into whatever natural shape it feels like taking that day, so don’t expect a pie with perfect circumference, radius or diameter. “When we roll the dough, we let it go to where it wants to go, we don’t have sizes,” said Garelli.
The thin-crust form is then placed into the oven with a little Provolone cheese before being extracted and topped with roasted garlic, Fontina cheese, tomatoes, radicchio and arugula ($12). The size will be approximately somewhere between 9-11 inches.
“One day I was having a salad and thought, you know, this would be great on a pizza and it’s one of my biggest sellers,” said Garelli.
The Pappardelle is a customer favorite, requested just as much in summer as in winter despite its hearty nature. Gio uses wide homemade noodles, and covers them with a ragu of velvety lamb shank in red pepper and natural jus ($14).
“It’s the simplicity of the ingredients (and) the food is well-presented,” said Garelli.
The restaurant offers 25 wines by the glass and half-pitchers which hold approximately 3.5 glasses and are a great value.
“It’s good down-to-earth, flavorful Italian food as authentic as we can make it,” said Garelli.
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