Shaded from the late afternoon sun by the restaurant’s wall but still able to feel a balmy breeze from Lake Michigan a mile away, we snagged an outdoor table at Francesca’s Intimo on an early Friday night. It was meant to be. Sadly, the Noodle in Wilmette, the restaurant we were going to go for an Italian dinner eaten al fresco, turned out to be permanently closed according to its website. But having recently looked up Italian when a daughter visited recently, we had Francesca’s Intimo on our list. Great choice! Weather, service and food were perfect.
Part of the now multi-concept Mia Francesca group that started in 1992 with one trattoria in Chicago, Francesca’s Intimo opened in Lake Forest in 2001. Intimo feels more sophisticated, upscale and like a restaurant in Rome than its trattoria-like sisters in the Francesca concept but it features tomatoes as in dishes found in the Tuscany area.
We were eating light that night so started with the Antipasti: Calamari Fritti with marinara that was large enough to share. My other choice, which will wait until next time, was the Spiedini Di Gamberi of gulf white shrimp, cremini mushrooms, cherry tomato, salsa verde, arugula with lemon and olive oil. The fresh, crusty bread which we dipped in freshly grated parm and an excellent olive oil mixture, went well with the calamari and then our salad.
We followed the antipasti with Insalata Cesare, a classic Caesar with garlic croutons and shaved parmesan that was also large enough for two. However, nothing here is boring, not any of the menu choices including salads. The Caesar was served with yummy roasted peppers that I love and my husband doesn’t so those were on the side. (I ate both of ours). My other choice which will also wait until next time, was the Burrata Con Prosciutto E Asparagi, a creamy burrata with thinly sliced prosciutto, shaved asparagus, lemon, olive oil and almonds.
Definitely there will b e a next time. I like risotto and gnocchi so want to try the Risotto alla Milanese con Gamberi, a saffron risotto with jumbo gulf shrimp, zucchini and fresh tomatoes and the Gnocchi Alla Valdostana which was spinach stuffed gnocchi with roasted peppers and garlic in a tomato cream sauce finished with white truffle oil.
Chicken, veal and fish options are also on the menu as second courses plus there are sides (Contorni) such as sauted shrimp, sauted mixed vegetables and sauted spinach..
Francesca Intimo is at 293 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest, IL 947-735-9235. For more information and reservations visit Francesca’s Intimo.