Full Disclosure: I paid for this meal with my own money and the opinions are completely my own.
If there is one thing that I love more than food, it might be pop culture. Celebrities, reality television, trends, I’m kind of obsessed. After revealing that information to you, it should come as no surprise that I watch networks like E!, Bravo, and Style on a regular basis. I’ve mentioned in the past my love for Kardasians, Top Chef, and Pregnant in Heels, but three is another reality show that I watch on a regular basis: Guiliana & Bill. If you don’t know who I am referring to (which means that you are much better than me about doing other things than watching television!), I am talking about Bill and Guiliana Rancic – aka the winner of the first Apprentice, and the host of E! news, among other things. I love watching their show because they seem like such a real couple and have been through some major struggles in recent years. I also love that quite a bit of their show takes place in Chicago – where Bill is from. Something about seeing somewhere on the television that I’ve been, and know, is always fun.
One of the things that Bill and Guiliana did recently, and that was chronicled on the show, was open a restaurant. With the help of Chicago area restauranteur friends, they opened RPM Italian in Chicago. I immediately wanted to go to their restaurant the next time I was is Chicago. Yes, maybe this had something to do with their celebrity, and the chance that though the possibility was slim, maybe for some reason one of them would be there and I would see them in person. Well, clearly many other people had the same idea because this place seemed to be booked full with no end in sight. When I was down in June, I attempted to get reservations only to find that they were booked out for months (unless we wanted to eat super late at night).
Knowing I would be heading down to Chicago twice in the near future, I gave a shout out on Twitter at the beginning of this month in hopes that magically I could get a reservation during one of the times that I would be down. So, I threw out a plea via Twitter
— Kelly Nigl (@kellynigl) July 12, 2012
I honestly didn’t know if I would get any response at all, but the least I could do was try, right? Well, shortly after that tweet I got a tweet back from Lettuce Entertain You (the restaurant group that RPM is part of) lettting me know that they would look into it for me and see what they could do. Then, a few days later after working out some specifics, I got another tweet from them confirming my reservation for July 22! I was SO excited!
Now that you know about why I wanted to go to this restaurant, let me tell you about what my experience was like when I went!
The restaurant had a very hip and modern vibe, but was not super stuffy. While the seating area is pretty large, it never seemed like it was super loud or crowded. The decor was minimal, but trendy, lots of black, white, and grey.
The first thing that I looked at on the menu once we were seated was the wine list. I enjoy wine, but I don’t know very much about what type of wine I like, or what makes one wine different from another. I really liked how they had the wine menu laid out because it made it easy for me to find a wine that I thought I’d like without having to search through a long list of red wines and guess.
I chose the Pinot Nero from the “Soft and Approachable Reds” section and was very happy with my choice.
The menu seems small at first, since it is only one page long, but after I looked at it I realized that there were so many different things that I wanted to try! Luckily my brother and his girlfriend were there with me so we were able to chose a few different options and not be totally overwhelmed by the amount of food in front of us. At first glance of the appetizers/small plates section I really wanted to try one of the warm bread options. However, after looking over the menu more I decided there were more exciting things that I could be trying than bread. I’m sure the bread is delicoius, but pretty much every Italian restaurant serves bread, why not try something more fun!
Our first appetizer choice was the Pasta Puffs. I honestly had no idea what these would be when I ordered them, and they were not like anything I could have guessed. They were kind of like pop chips…or rice cakes…or Pirate’s Booty if you are familiar with what that is. The waiter told us that they are actually made from dehydrated pasta that is seasoned and fried. They were a great choice for an appetizer because they were very light, and there wasn’t a ton of them.
We also got a cheese and salumi plate as an appetizer. Since I am not a big salumi person, and we all love cheese, we decided to get three cheeses and one salumi. (Thanks to our waiter for letting us know we could mix and match!) The cheeses we got were Robiola Bosina, Pecorino Sardo, and Tallegio D.O.P. The salumi is Pepperoni Picante. The plate also came with some toasted bread(on the left_ and some type of fruit jam…figs maybe? (on the far right almost out of the photo) This plate was definitely a good decision. It was a lot of fun to sample the cheeses, AND I got my bread fix even though I didn’t order the warm bread as an appetizer. My favorites of the cheese were the Robiola and the Tallegio. Both were soft and creamy. They didn’t have a sharp flavor, but it was pretty distinct. YUM!
After the appetizers we each decided to get our own entree. The waiter told us that the portion size was more European sized, and I’m glad he did because without those appetizers I don’t think it would have been enough food to fill us! That being said, I’d rather have a smaller portion entree and be able to have an appetizer and/or dessert too without feeling stuffed.
My brother ordered the Spaghetti and Meatballs, which didn’t seem all that exciting of a choice compared to other things on the menu. However, once it came out it didn’t look boring at all – that meatball was huge! He also said that there were chunks of fresh garlic throughout the dish as well and he enjoyed that.
His girlfriend got the Short Rib Paparadelle, which she enjoyed. I’m not a fan of short ribs, but that pasta looks so fresh and delicious!
For my entree I got the Sweet Pea Risotto. I was a little bit shocked when it came out and was bright green, but I guess I shouldn’t have been because that is the color of peas! The dish was delicious and fresh tasting, but almost a little bit too strong on the pea taste. I did, however enjoy that there were not only actual peas in the risotto but there were chopped up pieces of pea pods as well. It definitely made the texture of the dish more interesting.
I also got a side of asparagus, because for some reason I felt like I needed more food. The asparagus I definitely could have lived without. It was alright, but definitely not as delicious as some of the other things.
Then it came time for dessert. I had my mind set on getting dessert, and I hoped that the other two were on board as well. Luckily our stomachs decided that there was room for more and we took a look at the dessert menu. As we were about to order, our wait came back with a little treat. He delivered us a dessert courtesy of Bill and Giuliana, for being a Twitter follower, Bill’s Budino. I’ve never had Budino before, so I didn’t really know what this was. It kind of looked like fancy pudding. Turns out, that “fancy pudding” is actually a pretty good definition. It had a salted caramel layer and a chocolate layer, with chocolate bits on top. It was tasty, the sweet and salty combo was what really won me over I think.
Since we were already set on two other desserts that we were going to order to share, we ordered those as well. We just couldn’t resist.
While we were waiting for our dinner, we saw the waiter bring this dessert to the table next to us. It looked like a giant meatball, it turns out it is Tarfuto – which is hazlenut gelato with a chocolate shell. It was kind of similar to fried ice cream. It was also quite large, as you can see in the photo below. It was tasty though, just a little filling considering all of the food we had already had.
The other dessert that we decided we just had to have. Ok, or at least I did. This is the Strawberry Carpaccio which came with a sour cream semifreddo. Super thinly sliced strawberries on a plate with a small dollop of citrus flavored semifreddo – one of the most unique, light, and delicious desserts that I’ve had.
After all of that food, we were definitely full. Happy, and full of delicious food. The service was fantastic, the atmosphere was great, an overall good experience. Even if you have no idea who Bill and Guiliana are, you should definitely check out RPM. It is not a typical Italian restaurant with large portions and heavy food, everything is unique and made with care.
Thanks again to Lettuce Entertain You for helping me get a reservation!
Taste: A+, unique and tasty.
Cost: A, while the asparagus may have been a bit over priced at $9, the pasta puffs were a great deal for $3. Although it may seem a bit high priced for the amount of food you get, you have to consider the freshness and quality of the food is well – and i think it was all generally worth it.
Would I go there again? I think so. There are other things on the menu that I’d like to try, and the food was so unique!