Club Lago

Club Lago's Front Sign

Lindsey Arquilla

Chicago is no stranger to Italian cuisine.  There are plenty of bistros, diners and restaurants throughout the city that offer Mediterranean food, but often fall short of connecting Chicagoans with a regional Italian experience.  However, amidst the empty bottles of Chianti and devoured plates of Carbonara, one can find the true authenticity of Tuscany combined with Chicago, right on the corner of Superior and Orleans.

Three centuries ago Gus and Ida Lazzerini emigrated from Lucca, Italy—an area just northwest of Tuscany.  In 1952, hoping to bring Northern Italian dishes to the bustling Chicago metropolitan, they opened their first restaurant.

Outside of Club Lago

Since then, two additional generations of managers within the family have taken charge of Club Lago. Despite the ever changing neighborhood, the atmosphere of Lago has always remained the same: A balance between Northern Italy and old-style Chicago.

Upon stepping into Lago, the blend of Italian and Chicago atmospheres is clear.  The aroma of the Northern Italian herbs and tin ceilings—implemented in Chicago buildings after the Chicago Fire of 1871—are instant trademarks of this unique diner. Co-owner GianCarlo Lazzerini refers to Lago’s means of serving Italian food as “American old school,” which is sure to fill up any Chicagoan with its generous portion sizes.

The 1940s and early 1950s aesthetics appeal to true Chicagoans looking for a genuine, old-fashioned, home-style meal.  The contrast of that and the signature Northern Italian menu items offered at Lago are sure to keep first, second and third generation customers coming back for more.

Although Northern Italians use little cheese, you can find a bit in some of Lago’s staple dishes.  Veal is one of Lago’s favorite items to work with.  Entrees like Bracioline All’agro and Veal Sassi are two of the most requested dishes.

Mostaccioli with chunky meat and tomato sauce

While Southern Italians’ sauces are often referred to as “gravy” due to their thin, sweeter taste, Northern Italian sauces have a thicker consistency due to the “chunkiness” of the meat, says Lazzerini.  In accordance with Northern Italian sauces, Lago’s veal dishes are often served with a wine base, like its marsala wine sauce, however they can also be painted with the classic meat and tomato sauce; chunky for the Northern Italian effect.

While these entrees are sure to satisfy Chicagoans and Italians alike, no dish could represent the two areas of the world better than the Club Lago Chicken Vesuvio. According to Lazzerini, “this meal is the staple of Italian restaurants in the States, it is a Chicago invention.”  Which is undoubtedly why, it is so fitting in a place like Lago: The perfect blend of Italian and American, or Tuscan and Chicagoan styles.

Check It Out: Club Lago

331 West Superior Street

Published in: on 02/05/2010 at 9:35 PM  Leave a Comment  
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