Enoteca, that’s a funny sounding word isn’t it? It’s actually a fancy Italian way of saying wine bar. Most wine bars typically carry a variety of wines and suggest pairings for you based on your selections. But have you heard about a BYOB wine bar before? Sure it seems odd but it does give the guest a chance to enjoy their favorite wine without worrying if the restaurant carries it.
Located in Highland Park, 2nd Street Enoteca (on Second St) is offering its patrons authentic Italian cuisine in a comfortable BYOB setting. The dining room has the feel of an outdoor garden or courtyard with faux vines and soft lit bulbs hanging above. Food is obviously the most important part of any restaurant so let’s dive in!
Two appetizers were enjoyed tonight with the first being the Farro di Zucca. Farro is an ancient Italian grain that is similar to barley and has a nutty taste to it on its own. But, add some whipped goat cheese and roasted butternut squash and even the skeptics will ask for seconds. It’s not often I say “Wow” when I try something but that is exactly what happened when I tried Pane di Spinaci alla “Gusto Italiano” (stuffed spinach bread). Loaded with tender spinach, garlic, parmesan, and rolled in pizza dough this dish bursts with flavor and is a must for anyone!
Before we dive into the main course, we opted for one of their brick oven pizzas instead of soup or salad. This is Neapolitan pizza with the flour actually flown in from Naples. This means the crust is thin, slightly crisp, and has a nice chew. I am a big fan of cured meats, so I opted for the Sulami that had cubes of coppa and soppresatta. While I was at odds deciding if I preferred the meats to be sliced rather than cubed, there was no denying that I enjoyed this pie.
Entrees tonight start simply with the Bucatini Amatriciana. Thick spaghetti like bucatini pasta is tossed with house made marinara, salty pancetta, and some grated pecorino. Simple but tasty. The dish that owner Bobby Dubin is particularly proud of is the Chicken Vesuvio alla Sous Vide. What the heck is Sous Vide? Sous vide was first used in kitchens in France in the 1970s and traditionally is the process of cooking vacuum sealed food in a low temperature water bath. This process helps to achieve texture and doneness not found in other cooking techniques. The result was possibly the juiciest Vesuvio I have ever tried! While I found the dish very good my only minor complaint was the potatoes. They were roasted, crisp, and very delicious but they weren’t Vesuvio potatoes to me. Vesuvio potatoes are normally soft and soaked with all the delicious pan drippings for an extra burst of flavor.
Dessert comes and it does not disappoint. Pretzel bread pudding was a wonderful surprise! I am not normally a fan of bread pudding but the soft texture and the layers of semi sweet chocolate all sitting on top of a salted caramel drizzle couldn’t help me from thinking French toast in the best kind of way! Warm mixed berry cobbler was not too sweet, had a nice crust on top, and provided a nice end to a lovely meal.
Prices are very reasonable for both the area and the quality of food that is provided. Most items are under $20 with only a few items breaking that threshold. Overall 2nd Street Enoteca offers a comfortable setting and very good food for a reasonable price. Definitely worth a return visit! Rating **** (very good) out of *****
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1825 Second Street
Highland Park, IL