While in Chicago over the summer I was able to try out a few of the restaurants that offer alfresco dining when the weather cooperates. Having walked by this particular eatery many times, the aromas from the food always caught my attention, but the ambiance of the setting, especially in the evenings, really intrigued me.
Founded over four decades ago by Alex Dana, the Rosebud on Rush is part of a restaurant group that has many fans including celebrities, politicians, and just about anyone else that stops by to sample the days Italian specialties. Dana honed both his business and culinary skills at his father’s restaurant before purchasing his own downtown luncheonette.
“To me its all about people…if the people are happy, if they like the food and the service, and they’re coming back for more and bringing their friends, then I’m happy” Alex Dana, Founder
As you might have guessed, this restaurant is located on N Rush Street, just a block away from the Magnificent Mile. The location is in an ideal spot to offer tired shoppers a break from the day’s activities, or for a tourist to do a little people watching in between sightseeing, or for locals to meet up with friends. Positioned on a busy corner, the outside seating area really does give you a front row seat to watch all of Chicago go by.
I visited on a Thursday lunchtime with my daughter, the last stop for me before flying back to Mumbai. With so many tempting options on the menu, we decided to order a glass of Prosecco each and a portion of bruschetta to share, while we tried to narrow down our main course selection. Our server soon delivered chilled individual-sized bottles of sparkling Italian wine, and a plate full of slices of crispy Italian bread pilled high with tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella ($10). The tomatoes were just so flavorful but their rich red color combined with the creamy mozzarella and the drizzle of basil made my mouth water before I had even taken a bite.
Tip: Portions sizes are gigantic so I would recommend eating family style and sharing your dishes. Alternatively, ask for a to go box to save half your meal for another time or you will need to be rolled out of this restaurant.
After much deliberation, we selected the Eggplant salad ($14 lunch price) and the Cavatelli alla Rosebud ($14.95 lunch price) for our main courses. I liked the sound of the salad but had not anticipated quite such a huge portion (see tip above). My dish consisted of breaded eggplant interspersed with beefsteak tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and arugula, with an Italian and balsamic combination dressing. Two large wooden skewers with a cherry tomato on each held the slices together, barely. The dish was topped with Parmesan shavings. The eggplant was deliciously crunchy and not at all greasy (as I’m guessing it might have been fried).
Rebecca’s pasta entree was also an extremely colorful dish. Homemade dumplings were mixed with mushrooms, green beans, and roasted red peppers, and tossed in a garlic and oil dressing. Large chunks of mushroom and green beans gave this dish a real bite and the homemade pasta tasted beautifully fresh. I find that some gnocchi can tastes a little ‘heavy’ and somewhat sticky, but this pasta had the correct ‘melt in mouth’ quality.
Rosebud on Rush offers patrons the option of ordering gluten free and also substituting regular pasta for whole wheat pasta at an additional charge of $2.50. As we barely managed to eat half of our portions, we did not get to sample any of the desserts being offered.
Our server was extremely friendly and did not rush us at all. Our water glasses were filled, and refilled, on a regular basis by another waiter who was very active during our visit. This restaurant prides itself on its high level of service and we found all the staff to be particularly cheerful.
I would say that this restaurant lived up to my expectations very well. The food was exceedingly tasty and plentiful, and the servers made the whole visit very enjoyable. The central location is perfect for when you are out and about around the Magnificent Mile area of downtown Chicago. The lunch menu pricing is a little strange with everything either rounded ie $12.00 or priced at .95cents ie $12.95 – what is the logic with that? But for downtown Chicago and considering the portion size (as you could argue you get two meals for the price of one) I think this restaurant offers good value for money. I would love to visit again, perhaps in the evening next time, and certainly when the weather is still warm enough to enjoy the outside seating area.
Address: 720 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 312 266 6444
Hours: Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 9am-12pm, Lunch & Dinner: Monday thru Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday 11am-Midnight, Saturday 12pm-Midnight, Sunday 12pm-11pm
Other info: online reservations via Open Table