Sunday, February 26, 2012

RPM Italian

We had the good fortune of checking out RPM during their practice parties last week before it opens to the public. The first impressions were very good and the space is beautiful with sleek white and black tones throughout (and I really like the server uniforms with white coats and black pants). The bar area is larger than I expected relative to the dining room but like Hub and Paris they have tables with the full menu too. It's no surprise that RPM will be another Melman hot spot in River North but there appears to be more of a focus on the dining experience and food.

The menu is large with a ton of options in many categories. We tried something from the salad section (shaved brussel sprouts) and a starter from the cold antipasti section (fresh burrata). There's also a bread section, a pizzette section, a hot anitpasti section and a wood oven section. Yes, all of that just for "starters" with lots of choices. The next part of the menu is house-made pasta and risotto. Our server explained that each plate is relative small and shareable and not meant to be an entree. We tired the pesto pasta and mushroom risotto and really liked both. There were other options in the section I would want to taste - definitely a highlight of the menu. Finally, after all the previous options there is the entree section with steaks & chops, fish, classics and sides. We were not in a steak mood so we tried the salmon with a side of asparagus. I appreciate that the salmon dish was simple and not a massive portion. It was well cooked and seasoned and a nice option. The asparagus was our least favorite dish. We finished with a delicious bowl of chocolate sorbetto.

It's not totally fair to judge the food and experience from a pre-opening, complimentary meal. There's a lot of good things going on that I know RPM will be a great addition to the area. My biggest complaints are the easiest the fix - service and front of house. I dislike waiting for a table and even more so when you have a reservation. I was confused why we had to wait another 30 minutes after our reservation time at 9pm on an evening when the restaurant isn't open to the public. Also, our service was good but at times seemed absent - just inconsistent and can get better with practice and training. Lastly the pricing is what you expect for a hot new spot with names like Rancic and Melman. Our bill was $125 for 2.5 courses with one entree and one dessert and one drink each. Add another entree and two more drinks and that's not a cheap night out. But in the end it's a beautiful and chic place to have a solid modern yet authentic Italian dinner.

RPM Italian (Opening Soon) on Urbanspoon

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