Nico Osteria

I’ve made a quick weekend trip to Chicago recently to visit a friend and taken advantage of this trip to visit some restaurants in Chi-town. I’ve had fantastic dining experiences at some of the best restaurants in Chicago on my visit a couple of years ago (goosefoot and Girl and the Goat being the highlights), and was definitely looking forward to what the Windy City has to offer lately. My first stop was Nico Osteria, an Italian seafood restaurant from acclaimed chef Paul Kahan and his One Off Hospitality group. I met with my friends here for brunch after I arrived at Chicago and overall really liked the food coming out of the kitchen.

Fresh Italian Doughnuts
Kougin Amann

Any brunch at Nico Osteria should start with a couple of pastry dishes. Both the Italian doughnuts and kougin amann were wonderful starts to the meal, with rich sweetness that wasn’t yet too overpowering.

Bigeye Tuna with Fennel, Breadcrumbs, Ice Wine Vinegar, Chive
Chilled Lobster Served with Horseradish Crème Frachie, Remoulade, Nico Cocktail Sauce

The restaurant has an extensive collection of crudo and raw fish dishes. I enjoyed bigeye tuna crudo that worked harmoniously with breadcrumbs for great texture, and chilled lobster served with horseradish crème fraiche was delightful as well. Both dishes displayed high level of freshness and were executed very well.

Rigatoni with Northern Ragu and Poached Egg
Tagliolini with Clams, Leeks, Chile

Being at an Italian restaurant, I had to try a couple of pasta dishes. I slightly preferred the rustic rigatoni with northern ragu and poached egg (which had hearty feel without being heavy) over tagliolini that came with clams and leeks. Finally, a dish of grilled hanger steak that came with braised baby kale and apple-celery remoulade was very well-cooked and I liked the seasoning was kept at a minimal level to display the juicy, tender texture. For dessert, pistachio profiteroles with brulee grapefruit and orange were a delightful ending to a very satisfying meal.

Grilled Hanger Steak with Braised Baby Kale, Apple-Celery Remoulade
Pistachio Profiteroles with Brulee Grapefruit, Orange, Cheesecake Mousse, Biscotti-Lemon Gelato

I really liked the décor of the restaurant, located inside Thompson hotel, that displayed a lot of natural light and looks like an awesome date spot if you come for dinner, with modern and chic atmosphere with lots of young, handsome people around. Getting a reservation for brunch wasn’t difficult, but I presume it’s probably more difficult to secure a table during dinner time. The restaurant has a full bar with some nice brunch cocktail menus. Nico Osteria was definitely a great place to visit for brunch; I’d love to go on a visit for dinner on my next visit.

KenScale: 8.0/10

  • Creativity: 7.5/10
  • Execution: 8.5/10
  • Ingredients: 8.5/10
  • Flavor: 8.0/10
  • Texture: 8.0/10

Address: 1015 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

Telephone: (312) 994-7100


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