In spring 2002 Chef/owner Jennifer Newbury’s Fortunato opened quietly, but forcefully, in the increasingly popular Division Street stretch of Ukrainian Village, bringing with it a much-needed breath of fresh culinary air. Newbury (a veteran of Sole Mio and Club Lucky) now turns out her own no-nonsense Italian fare in a new space that’s spare, sleek and infinitely comfortable. But the friendly confines are simply a nice bonus—the marquee feature is Newbury’s impressive artistry, which turns your basic fritto misto (usually a stingy mix of fried foods) into a bona fide experience, frying up zucchini, green beans, artichokes and even smelts in a light, yet satisfyingly crunchy, tempura-like batter. The homemade pastas tend toward wonderful, and come in half orders so you can munch a tasty tagliatelle with fresh ‘shrooms while enjoying a rolled pork loin interspersed with bread crumbs, proscuitto and spinach and the accompanying rosemary-seasoned spuds. And don’t leave without tasting the addictive house cocktail, a mix of prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) and a simple syrup that is infused with black pepper, clove and purple basil. Classic, unpretentious fine dining in an up-and-coming area: What more could you want?
2005 West Division
Fortunato is closed
Audience choice: Flying Saucer and Tournesol (tie)
Flying Saucer, 1123 North California, (773)342-9076
Tournesol, 4343 North Lincoln
Tournesol is closed
Best of Chicago 2002