Monday, November 2, 2009
It gives me more pleasure than you can imagine to say that one of my favorite Chicago spots is back! Club Lago has been around since the 1950s, and it is the quintessential Italian joint -- run by two of my favorite people: GianCarlo and Guido Nardini.
When you walk through the door -- it's adorned with a ship's wheel -- you'll hear the call of the Nardini brothers -- "Welcome In!"
Last spring a boiler exploded in an adjacent building, causing extreme damage to the place. Luckily, the explosion happened early in the morning, and no one was hurt. Read more about the damage and see pictures here.
Saturday morning through a completely random social media chain, I found out that Lago had reopened after six months of dormancy and rebuilding. I had to go.
I think that Lago's food is best described by an old coworker -- and Italian himself -- he said, "This how my [Italian] mother makes Italian food." Hearty, Italian comfort food.
When I arrived, I looked around, and I was so happy and full of joy. Every thing was the same. Except better. Luckily, the damage was mostly in the back of the house, so the front bar area was pretty much unchanged. All their little knick-knacks were there -- from the photo of the brothers as kids, to the "Women's Lib" plaque (a woman standing next to a man at a urinal -- ugh, don't ask!) -- and of course, a vintage portrait of Hizzoner Richard J. Daley (father of Chicago's current Hizzoner).
The painted plywood cut-outs of boats were back on the walls, as was the iconic lighthouse that shines a green light from above in the back of the restaurant. Even the big boat with sails that divides the bar and the dining room was intact (the mylar balloons were leftovers from a party the week before -- very festive!). The walls have always featured black and white portraits of regulars -- from the 80s I think -- and all the wood is painted the perfect Club Lago Capri red. Iconic. Iconic. Iconic. There is a depth to that red that I love!
I will tell you right now that I started to tear up.
Go, go, get thee to Club Lago -- and tell them At the Meadows sent you!
Visit Club Lago online here.
Join Lago's Facebook group here.