Al Dente

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Chef Javier Perez--who's logged in time plenty of local eateries, including Spiaggia, Cibo Matto and Hot Chocolate--describes the cuisine at the Old Irving Park spot he runs with his wife, Maria, as contemporary American with Italian and Mexican influences. International flavors make up much of the seasonally inspired menu, from the flat ciabatta bread served with butter and sea salt when you sit down to the homemade tiramisu and gazpacho topped with avocado mousse. There's a focus on regional fare, too; Wisconsin supplies the cheese used in the heirloom tomato salad and other dishes. Entrees include buccatini pasta with homemade chorizo and an orange saffron sauce and adobo-seasoned salmon--or you can opt for a grilled mussels appetizer or strawberry and rhubarb compote shortcake.