La Scarola

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Chicago is a mecca for outstanding Italian dining, with more than its fair share of solid family eateries providing pasta, veal and caprese salads. La Scarola, while a relative newcomer, has the lineage of one of Chicago's best restaurant families--the Mondellis, whose much-loved Kelly Mondelli's was for years a fixture on North Clark Street. Many of the Mondelli favorites are back at La Scarola, including the eggplant parmigiana, the veal and some knockout peppers and sausage. The restaurant has an open kitchen and just a few tables in a small space, restored right down to the fireplace against the east wall. Seating is tight, but the room is warm and mellow enough that conversations and clanging pots and pans don't drown out the Billie Holiday and Louis Prima being played on the house sound system.