Once upon a time restaurants in hotels were nothing more than the convenient, closest places to curb hunger pangs, serving mediocre food from early morning to late night. Today that couldn’t be farther from the truth, with hotel restaurants serving such spectacular food that it’s often the restaurant with the reputation, not the hotel.
Dolce Italian at the Godfrey Hotel is one of those restaurants. Somehow I always forget that between the first-floor Italian restaurant and the rooftop bar, IO Godfrey, there are several floors of hotel rooms. It’s not until I arrive at Huron and LaSalle in River North that I remember oh yeah, this is actually a hotel.
But lucky for those of us who aren’t staying at the Godfrey (and even more convenient for those that are), Dolce is open from breakfast to late night dinner — and serving some mighty fine food at every meal.
Breakfast & Brunch
At first glance the breakfast and brunch menus stay true to traditional American classics like eggs and omelettes, but upon closer inspection you’ll notice the touch of Italian flare: porchetta and ciabatta on the Dolce ‘Benny’ (one of the best I’ve had in the city, $19) or a brunch pizza with sausage gravy ($15).
The steak and eggs ($22) is pretty traditional in theory, but in reality the poached eggs on the short ribs with a touch of red wine reduction is nothing short of amazing. Full-blown Italian fare like spaghetti al pomodoro ($16) and meatball parmigiana ($14) grace the bottom of the menu for those willing to start the day with a hearty dose of carbs. (Hey, no judging here!)
Lunch leans more heavily toward Italian cuisine. Housemade meatballs (pictured at top, $8) delicious enough to turn anyone with a meh idea of meatballs into a lover (*raises hand*) are a great starter. My favorite dishes from a brunch-turned-lunch feast a few weeks ago were the light, yet flavorful fettuccine al pesto with shrimp (above, $17) and the tartufata pizza ($18), a combination of bianca, speck, spicy salami and truffle oil.
Pro tip: any pizza can be ordered in the signature Dolce Stella style ($26) — in the shape of star with housemade ricotta stuffed into the points. It is amazing. The creation started as a diner’s dare to the chef to make a pizza in the shape of a star that turned into a trademark of Dolce. And the best part is it’s available during dinner too!
Speaking of dinner, dinner is where Dolce really shines. The fare is now dominated by its Italian influence but the chef’s creativity still shines through, especially with dishes like the Asparagus Risotto ($24) with gulf shrimp and lemon creme fraiche. The asparagus is pretty potent but the zestiness of the lemon prevents it from becoming too powerful. Definitely my favorite dinner dish.
The best route for tackling Dolce’s dinner menu is by doing it family style. For starters, split the tartufata pizza and the tender grilled octopus with celery and chickpeas ($17), which was more memorable than tuna tartare on an artichoke and avocado salad ($17). And don’t forget the meatballs ($15) — yes, they are available all day (and once you try them you’ll be as happy as I am about that).
Then get the Pappardelle alla Bolognese ($23) with braised beef, veal and pork — a perfectly executed classic — or I also had my eye on the Seafood Cioppino ($34). And, well, obviously you need to bring a few friends or at least a big appetite.
If it’s possible that you still have room at this point, don’t forget the dessert. After all, Dolce means sweet in Italian, so you know they’ve got to be good.
Go to Dolce Italian for :: a memorable meal, no matter the time of day. Notes :: Open for breakfast 7am – 11am daily; brunch (Saturday and Sunday only) 11:30am – 3pm; lunch Monday – Friday 11:30am – 2:30pm; dinner Sunday – Thursday 5:30pm – 10pm, Friday – Saturday 5:30pm -11 pm. Dolce’s Happy Hour, weekdays from 4pm – 8pm, has $8 small plates, $8 cocktails and $4 beer and wine.
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Disclaimer :: I was graciously treated to a bloggers’ event showcasing Dolce Italian. As always, all opinions are my own.