My husband and I went to Gioco over the weekend. I very much enjoyed my meatball appetizer. I had the beef filet and he had the scallops. The scallops were very good and he enjoyed his entree. I felt the beef fillet was far to smokey and was overwhelming. The wine selection was great. Our desert was the chocolate cake and i took this home to enjoy with my girlfriends over wine. We all 3 enjoyed this as well. This only thing i could have lived without was the overwhelming smokey of my beef fillet. Great date night place. Ambiance was nice too.
Gioco is an imazing Italian restaurant. The food, service and ambiance are outstanding. They offer a variety of standard italian food combined with unique special dishes. A friend even had a wild boar dish there once. The wine list is extensive and if you make special requests that aren't on the list they seem to find them somewhere. Also, be sure to check out the back room. It's a real speakesy!
I have been to this italian restaurant a few times over the past six years and still am not impressed. However, they seem pretty busy, so others may enjoy it. I find the food to be average, and not worth the price. Sometimes I found it hard to find something on the menu that sounded great. The service and atmosphere has never been very welcoming. With so many great italian restuarants in the city, I would go someplace else.
CONS: Average food for above average price
2nd time here in two years. Both times were fantastic. Food, service and setting are outstanding. We have decided to make this a regular stop when we're in Chicago.
I was here recently with family and the food was fine. I might be giving Gioco a better review if this post was prompted by food alone (see other posts for rave reviews of the Italian cuisine). My experience was ruined when my purse was stolen right out from under my feet (literally). I was sitting in the back room at one of the large round tables with my purse at my feet. I avoided hanging it on the back of my chair to prevent this very thing from happening. The meal was nice, as stated above, and I checked my purse after dessert to check the time on my phone. Within a matter of seconds my purse, with my wallet, phone, etc., was gone. I was seated at my chair the entire time (as were the five other people I was dining with) and didn't notice any suspicious activity around me. I alerted the staff to the fact that my purse was missing and their response was rather passive and disappointing. They had an attitude of disbelief and aside from a very cursory check around the premises, and use of the house phone to call the police, they really didn't do anything to mitigate the situation. Meanwhile my credit cards were being used at area gas stations (as later revealed on my fraud report).
THIS POST IS A WARNING to all future patrons. If you choose to dine at Gioco, watch your purses/wallets! The theft was so swift it was seemingly the work of a pro who will probably strike again. Be safe!
Cons: SECURITY, thieves
We've been to Gioco numerous times, and last night was our last. I've had better pasta from Trader Joes. The chefs antipasto choice plate was a joke-who puts two piles of speck and prosciutto on a plate with piles of whatever with it and calls it an appetizer? The other meals were average. I had a hard time deciding on what to get-just wanted a simple nice tasty meal. the veal has prosciutto and provolone cheese w/ other stuff on it-how about just a nice veal lemon? The menu is too "heavy" for us. Dessert-we had the three gelato's-boooring. could've had that at home and save my paycheck. Would've been nice with some wafer-thin dark chocolate cookies with it, but thanks for the mint sprig. Sorry Gioco-that's the last....
Pros: good staff/ambiance
Cons: food. price
Was visiting from out of town back in 2007 and was taken here by some good friends. The ambiance was nice, and the historic aspect of being a former speak-easy for the Al Capone crew created interest. Our guests ordered for us. We started with a plate of the bolognese. Outstanding, likely the best bolognese my wife and I have ever had. No joke. The secondi platter was a porter house steak, sliced up for the table. Veggies and such on the side. Again, the steak was unreal. One of the better meals I've ever had. A five star visit for sure. We visited again in 2008... however the restaurant didn't come close to delivering. Still, a 3-star, but the bolognese just didn't have the same flavor and the porter house was fatty. None-the-less, we're dropping the 4-star bomb on this place due to the great great experience from the first time around.
Pros: amazing Bolognese and Excellent Porter House
Cons: Didn't deliver the Five Stars on trip #2
Last night, 7pm, we went to get pizzas, with no reservation and a convention in town, they were able to seat the two of us, very quickly I might add. No hassels from the hostess, just a friendly smile and the way to our table. Water, bread w/ super mellow olive oil and parmesan cheese quickly adored the table. Our waitstaffer told us about the specials of the day and was very nice. Watching her at other tables showed us she was very nice to everybody. Our carpacio salad was served to us very soon after we ordered. The salad was super!! The super thinly sliced rare beef was so soft it melted in your mouth. Crisp fresh 'rouggala' greens were nice and sweet. With the cheese,greens and sauce the salad came so nicely together. Well, the cappers were on the very salty side. But that was so minor because there probably were only 4 cappers on the plate. So far so good. Thin crust pizzas were next! Gee, what a bargin!! They had to be 12 inches across and the ingredients, the pizzas were created w/, fanatastic! One mushroom and one prosciutto, fresh everything, oh so good. They were very good. We each took 1/2 of our pies home. OK....the smoke from the kitchen. What's that about? Well we were seated on the level that the bar was and the kitchen was down one level, it is an open kitchen. The smoke from the cook staff, when they "flamed up" something in the pans overywhelmed the vent fans (I'm guessing) above the stoves which then rose up to the ceiling and then through the arched openings in the wall between the two levels to our level and filled the room. At times my eyes were watering from the smoke. You could see the smoke billowing from the kitchen it was that thick. The smoke did not have a bad smell to it, quite the contrary, a pleasent flavor of your backyard/deck grill. But still alot of smoke. Waitstaff was very attentive and nice. We'd definitely go back again. No we don't work there, we just live in the cily of Chicago. Enjoy as we did.
We read the reviews here, so we went in with high expectations. I get the feeling some of these may be false reviews. Friendly valet out front. Very unfriendly hostesses, though. They were too busy chatting to pay attention to us. Ugh! We requested a romantic table. When we got there, the joint was about a fourth full. They sat us in front of the open kitchen, next to a party of eight and a party of twenty. NOT ROMANTIC! Why did they seat us there when so many other tables were open, especially when we requested something quiet? We decided to make the most of it. The waitress was good, but wearing her purse over her shoulder. That was unprofessional. It made us feel like she would walk out the door at any moment, like we were holding her up from leaving. We had to ask for bread. Had to ask for more bread. They were good about keeping our glasses full, though. His dish looked, smelled, and tasted like hamburger helper. My filet was very rare, but I ordered medium. They insisted on taking it back. They had it so long he finished his dinner by the time they returned. I cut into it and they hadn't cooked it more at all. It was still rare. We gave up, had them pack my food, so I could nuke it later, and headed off to the ballet. This place is very average. For the money, I can think of about 100 other places with much better service and a lot better food. Don't bother!
Cons: Too many to list
Despite our favorite chef Fred Ramos leaving Gioco, we still enjoy our experiences here and the food is always excellent. Sunday we dined there for Easter Brunch and had a wonderful meal for an amazing price. If you are looking for a nice Italian dining experience for a great price, give Gioco a try.
Pros: atmosphere, food, drinks, specials
Cons: can't find any
When I 1st arrived, I waited for 2 minutes since the hostess was busy "yacking" on the phone. i had a reservation and there was a couple waiting impatiently before me. Finally another waitress (Indian looking) came and asked if I had been helped and I said no. She quickly sat the 1st couple and then seated me. She never smiled and she looked as if she wanted to go home. The ambiance was nice, a little bit noisy but not overbearing. Warm tasty bread was delivered immediately with rosemary scented olive oil. It was finished quickly and then Steven the waiter came over and it was a treat from then on. He made a few suggestions which were right on the money. 1st the wine, he recommended the riesling from Washington State and it was delicious. It was not overly dry, and had a snall sweetness to it. I normally drink reds (merlot, pinot noir and cabs) but this was a different and delicious wine. Appetizer was fried baby eggplant with some riccotta...delicous. Also had oven baked tomatoes with mozzarella, again very fresh and delicious. The entree was a suggestion; seared ahi tuna with a risotto spinach and mushroom.. oh my.. Desert was cheesecake and crume brulee. I had a terrific experience and would return. Never felt rushed and everything seemed timed perfectly. One of the managers helped out a couple of times and was quite funny! As i left, the restaurant was crowded and there were people even eating at the bar. Nice place....
Pros: Service and food
Cons: bit noisy and hostess had a sour look
This is my favorite Italian restaurant in the South Loop area, and I am a tough judge when it comes to Italian food because I am Italian and nothing compares to Grandpa's Sicilian cooking! However, Gioco always excites my taste buds and over loads my stomach! This place is always packed so make sure you make reservations or dine early if not. The menu is always changing which sometimes is disappointing because I want to the same dish as last time, but it forces you to try something new and you'll never be unsatisfied with the dishes. The pasta is handmade, the salads are exceptional with presentation and fresh cheeses. The mussels appetizer is in a spicy lite tomato based sauce and the fried calamari is cooked just right with just enough breading so you don't get full. The wine list is amazing, and the staff always suggests the right wine. The atmosphere is relaxing, the staff is young vibrant and friendly, they allow you to take your time and enjoy your dinning experience. The seating can accommodate any group, large or small. I prefer to sit by the kitchen so you can see the chefs cooking and take a seek peek at dishes to help you decide. The back of the restaurant does get hot and so does it by the hot kitchen, however do not sit by the front of the restaurant in the winter, because the door never stays closed for too long with people constantly coming in to dine or drink at the bar. This is a great place to dine with a large group of people, I would suggest using Gioco for any type of celebration ranging from birthday to anniversaries, or graduations to wedding proposals!
This is a lovely place to have a quality meal . Expose brick and merlot colors through out the restaurant create a perfect setting for a romantic night out . The food is very fresh and flavorful. They also offer a decent wine list . Dessert is not to be missed.
One of the best Papardelle dish I have tasted. Come with delicious homemade pasta and wild boar for the meat. The atmosphere is great, not to stuffy and still very classy to impress any date.
Prepare to sweat in your food! The AC system in this place is non-existent. The ambience is unoriginal and uninspired. Don't walk too far back in Gioco as the overwhelming smell of mildew will affect your olifactory experience. Cannot imagine how this gets a high score, there are so many nicer restaurants with better value in Chicago. These reviews must be written by employees. Do yourself a favor, skip Gioco.
Pros: Hard to find one
Cons: See review. so many choices, so little time.
The delicious, fresh, crusty bread, and warm rosemary-scented oil for dipping caught my attention. But when the waiter returned with a $40 bottle of wine I realized that it was actually the right temperature! When asked, the waiter pointed me toward their Vinocave wine cabinet near the bar. These devices are not hard to find in higher-end restaurants but even there, only the big-bucks bottles see any temperature-controlled storage. I will be back, no doubt. People who love wines of all price points will love Gioco if for no other reason than Gioco understand the importance of cool reds, chilled whites and cold sparkling wines.
Went there on Labor Day weekend 2004 while visiting for a convention. My wife and I showed up unannounced and they found us a table. Very good service, good food and fair prices. I liked the high energy atmosphere. We thought it romantic but it was also bustling.
We had a large group of people for dinner. The portions were all very large but it's not like we would have left half the food if it was yummy. It's another American-Italian. a bit greasy at times. The risotto I had was a bit crunchy (i'm guessing the rice wasn't fully cooked). I don't understand why this place gets a high rating when the food is so plain.
Cons: blah food
Gioco is a restaurant I will return to often. Warm, casual atmosphere in an up and coming neighborhhood. Menu had a number of great looking items that made the choice hard. Everyone at my table loved their food and it came very hot. There are plenty of places to go where they try to create "funky" dishes but this place relies on great flavor. Wine list and service just average but food made up for it. Plan on spending $100 per person with tip and half bottle of wine.
Good restaurant - but a romantic spot??? Crowded, Very Noisy - to maintain a conversation at a table for 6 requires shouting. Food has been good to very good, reasonably pricey.
Pros: OK Costs, Decent wine list
Cons: Noise, Crowded
I didn't find the ambience to be all that romantic as it's a little loud and cramped. Portions were pretty small for the prices. The pasta dish was good but the lamb was not.
Cons: over priced, small portions
My boyfriend and I showed up for dinner early without a reservation. The hostess was kind enough to fit us in after a short time at the bar. We started with the Carpaccio (Harry's) -- just as delicious as it is at Cipriani's in NYC with smooth homemade mayonaise and plump, tart capers covering the most tender thin slices of beef. I had the scallops and crispy artichokes for dinner which was an excellent combination of flavors and textures. The scallops were sweet and perfectly seared with a browned butter sauce. I also coudn't stop eating the bread. the service was attentive without being overbearing.
Pros: Cuisine, Atmosphere, Service
Cons: Tables are too close, Expensive valet, Crowded bar
If your a steak lover - you have to try the filet. It's the best I've ever had and the sauce is AMAZING !
We had a great time at Gioco. It was off the beaten path and outside the downtow district, which was nice. The decor was excellent, and the food was unbelievable. My recommendations are the steamed mussels and the Buffalo mozzarella for starters, and then the sea bass for the main course. This is a meal I had no problem paying $$$ for. The staff was also very attentive
We made the mistake of planning an early New Year's Eve dinner at at Gioco. There is a lesson to be learned about these 'trendy' Italian places popping up here and there. If you could get over the snobby waitress and mediocre food the atmosphere was nice aesthetically. Save your money and go elsewhere.
Cons: snobby, overpriced, boring menu
I have had about 10 meals at Gioco over the past 18 months, and the service has been good, though not terribly Baby-Friendly. The food, however, is outstanding, particularly the beef entrees. The pasta has been disappointing, not even al dente as is generally accepted at better Italian establishments. Stick with the other specialties. BTW, the pizza is an appetizer only. It's good, but not intented for a full meal.
Pros: Food, Trendy Crowd
Cons: Occasionally Arrogant, Trendy Crowd
as far as i am concerned, gioco is no more the best italian foos than taco bell is the best mexican. other than the nice decor and the good service, what does one see here? the food id mediocre, the fish on the menu is breaded to fish-stick perfection. the carpacio is totally second rate, the calamari tough and the other entree with red sauce tasted close to bottle italian gravy. sorry folks, this ain't the place, forget about it!!!
My experience here was very nice. I actually went for lunch, and it was great. No waiting, not a crowd, and the food was very delicious! The atmosphere is excellent. This place would be great for a romantic date.
I've moved here from New York city, and consider this to be one of the better Chicago establishments that I have seen. My experience with Gioco involved truly amazing food in a warm, open and inviting setting that is upscale without being pretentious. The wait staff is attentive and sensitive to your needs without being overbearing. A great find.
What a find in the South Loop. As this neighborhood booms, watch for Gioco's popularity to soar. Great atmosphere, coupled with great food and service. I'd definitely go back!
Food is great,we go there pretty often even if we reside 40 miles away,waiters they should write their food orders instead of trying to play memory banks,always a mistake when they try to memorise orders,believe me..........
Our dining experience at Gioco was wonderful. We had reservations ( a must for Saturday night) and were seated promptly. From the appetizers to the desert, everything was delicious. An added plus was meeting Chef Corcoran (Corky), whose creative attention to each plate was a spectacular sight. Overall, I was very delighted with our dining experience.
Pros: Easy to find parking, Cordial staff, Delicious Food
Gioco is doing its own thing, and that thing is just fine. The atmosphere is very cool and comfortable. The service is almost always excellent. The food, especially the pastas and desserts, are a great change of pace.
Pros: food, service
I went to Gioco largely because of the favorable reviews, and they were absolutely accurate with regard to the food. The eggplant ravioli was delicious. However, the service there left a lot to be desired. Not only did our waiter slur every word out of his mouth, but he managed to act exasperated whenever he was asked to to fulfill the simplest of requests.
I relish the opportunity for fine dining, but when you pay premium prices you expect service that is commensurate. Truth be told, I have had better service at Denny's.
Nonetheless, if you do not mind contentious servers, and like great food, Gioco is an excellent choice.
Pros: Great Food
Cons: Lackluster Service
I've been going to Gioco for quite a while now and every single time I go, it is outstanding. The food, service and atmosphere are consistently terrific. The menu has changed slightly but everything is still great.
Sure, it's smallish, dark, quiet and romantic -- but it's the Chicken Vesuvio here that makes me crazy. The dish is a Chicago classic, but here it's presented better than anywhere else. The huge chicken fillet is shaped/rolled into a tower, then topped with a light butter-lemon sauce -- the roasted potatoes are also out of this world. The neighborhood can be a bit sketchy at night, so grab a cab.
Pros: Chicken Vesuvio
Cons: Out of the way
I took my parents to dinner here when they were in town and we had a wonderful evening. The food was superb and the service was amazing. The decor is contemporary but the feel is warm and inviting.
Pros: Great food
Cons: Close tables