On Francesca’s Intimo
Today I’m going to review a little restaurant called Francesca’s Intimo that I’ve come to adore in the last few months. I’ve actually only been there twice but it’s become a fast favorite and the easy choice for a nice dinner, or say, a date. It’s actually part of a long line of Francesca Restaurants all located in Chicago but so far, Intimo (located in Lake Forest) is the only one in my repertoire (it’s hard to believe I haven’t yet been to the one in Northbrook).
I think you probably figured out by now that I think the food is outstanding, or else I wouldn’t be writing about it. It’s authentic, really fresh, and overall delicious. They change their menu every week, incorporating homemade pasta, fresh Italian cheese, and sauces that are to die for. I never realized how much I liked real Italian food until I came here. I think that says a lot.
See a rundown of my most recent meal and all the delicious food photos after the jump!
While indulging on some fresh-baked bread that we dipped in olive oil and a giant heaping bowl of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (one of my favorite parts of Italian restaurants), we were feeling extremely indecisive about what we wanted to order. Last time, we had the mussel appetizer (steamed in a spicy tomato sauce), did we want that again? Or were we feeling more adventurous?
I guess you could say we chose adventure in the form of beef carpaccio. We did want our mussels but you’ll see that later we more than made up for our choice, which is why we went with something we don’t ordinarily eat. I had beef carpaccio once before (on a cruise years ago) but I thought it would be best to see how it’s done at a place that serves quality food. Topped with arugula, capers, fresh tomatoes, and some more Parmesan cheese, this appetizer tasted incredible. The initial look of the plate didn’t exactly thrill me (Note: if you’re looking for the beef, it’s the red outline of the dish – David didn’t realize that was the meat!) But after a squeeze of lemon juice and a bite of all the ingredients, I was sold.
Since we loved the mussels so much last time, we knew we couldn’t leave Francesca’s without some. So this time we decided to order mussels in our main course: Pasta con Cozze (linguine with mussels). Now, I never like to order the same thing as the person I’m eating with but this time I couldn’t help it. The pasta con cozze was on special and it sounded so good! The original dish came with linguine and mussels, in a spicy tomato sauce with basil. That’s what David ordered, pictured above.
I, however, need to be complicated sometimes and decided to substitute the linguine for some of my favorite pasta: rigatoni. So I guess you could say I ordered Rigatoni con cozze. I usually don’t like to change the dish because I’m sure they chose linguine for a reason, but I have no regrets. I think it came out even better with the rigatoni. I had my favorite pasta, my favorite sauce and a pile of mussels, so I was in heaven. Too bad I was stuffed from all the bread we ate. But yay for lunch the next day!
We also happened to know that the desserts at Francesca’s are amazing. Despite our full stomachs, these masterpieces are a hard bargain to pass up, not to mention, they make it hard to decide which one to get. We went with the torte di lava: a chocolate lava cake topped with vanilla gelato, filled with a mint chocolate center, and drizzled with chocolate fudge and cinnamon sauce. It was a whole bunch of yum in my mouth, and together we scraped that plate clean. I guess there is always room for dessert!
And there’s always room for Francesca’s. If you’re ever looking for a nice, authentic Italian meal, I highly recommend this place. I hear the other Francesca restaurants are also good, so find one of the 16 locations and try it out! And if you can’t get over to a Francesca’s, you can still recreate a similar meal in your own home with some of these recipes: