On a recent trip to visit family in Chicago, I ate a lot. End of story.
Kidding. I had a lot of food to catch up on while in town, and while I didn't get to hit all of the places I miss in Chicago and the Chicago-land area, I did happen upon a few great places with my mom. See, my mom is adventurous when it comes to food, and since I take after her adventurous palate, we end up finding excellent items on any menu.
My parents had been to Francesca's once before, and my mom said it wasn't that great. Then again, if you're expecting the classic Italian American dishes to match up to your favorite Italian American restaurant in the Chicagoland region, you'll likely be disappointed. It isn't that the food is sub par, but rather that we just expect it to taste exactly like our favorite restaurant's version. That said, my mother and I ordered menu items that my dad would wrinkle his nose at, since hey, we're ladies lunching. And we can.
First up, we shared a Lenticchie e Spinaci salad, which was warm and delightfully creamy due to the goat cheese. My mom and I couldn't quite put our finger on the herb used to spice the warm lentils, but I made a mental note to try and recreate this one at home sometime....when Ian isn't home.
We also shared a Quattro Stagioni pizza with proscuitto, artichoke, mushroom and an egg that was whipped into the pizza tableside. I know a lot of people would likely be grossed out by egg (let along raw egg) on their pizza, but it's actually a very common pizza topping, and it's wonderful. Not a great dish to bring home as leftovers, as one might imagine.
Overall, we really liked the food, although I'll likely never try my favorite dishes from mom and pop Italian restaurants at a chain (Francesca's is ALL over the place in Illinois and a couple other states). There's just no comparison between chain restaurant food and the food that is a labor of love.