Italian Food for St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago?

Italian food may not seem like the obvious choice for a St. Patrick’s Day feast, but there’s a lot to say for eating the food of Italy on this big day for the Irish in Chicago and across the country.


We love Irish food – corned beef, fries, beer, etc. – but if you think about it, on this day of admitted overindulgence, it might be best to have a plate of pasta.


If you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a good bet that you will have a drink…or two. To absorb that alcohol, you could not do better than a lunch or dinner of noodles, which calm the stomach and soak up the green beer.


On St. Patrick’s Day, here are five Chicago restaurants with some killer pasta dishes that offer the right kind of party prep for a day of celebrating Ireland’s most famous Saint.


Coco Pazzo


312 Chicago. Right before St. Patrick’s Day on March 6, 312 Chicago will be re-opening after a 10-day update and remodel of their dining room, which included upgrading wood floors and adding marble accents. 312 Chicago is turning 22 this year, and on March 12th, they’ll be celebrating with menu specials like Chef Luca’s Mamma Gabriella’s 22-layer lasagna. A hearty platter of house-made lasagna is just the kind of belly ballast you’re going to want before setting sail on the streets of Chicago during a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.


The Florentine. Located at the J.W. Marriot hotel, right downtown and not far from much of the St. Patrick’s Day action, The Florentine offers a second floor respite from the raucous partying and a chance to grab a bite of some food that will set you up for a day of equally exuberant merry-making. After enjoying some meticulously prepared Italian cuisine, and a day of doing your part to make St. Patrick’s Day the wild celebration it always is in Chicago, head back to the Marriot, get a room, order room service from The Florentine, and sleep it off.


Coco Pazzo. Not far from the Chicago River, traditionally dyed green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Coco Pazzo offers some of the finest Italian food in the city. Upscale and attracting a more, shall we say, adult clientele, Coco Pazzo offers a number of substantial dishes to put you on your way for the day. We recommend house-made ricotta and spinach ravioli, linguini with clams and breadcrumbs (you need carbs for energy and, um, absorption), and rigatoni with fennel sausage and sweet peas.


Francesca's on Chestnut


Carmine’s. If your St. Patrick’s Day wanderings happen to pause around Rush Street (and they probably will, as you know, as we all know), then Carmine’s is one of your best possible choices for a rest stop. If you’ve been flying high for the past few hours, few places are better to touch down than Carmine’s; and once there, we think we know what you want: It’s spaghetti, with marinara (of course!), hand-rolled meatballs, fresh basil, butter and imported cheese.


Francesca’s on Chestnut. A short walk from Michigan Avenue, Francesca’s on Chestnut, any day of the year, is hopping, and especially on St. Patrick’s Day. With a larger menu than many Italian Restaurants, Francesca’s offers a huge range of pasta, meat and fish dishes.  The vitello alla Francesca is our favorite, roasted veal medallions with creamy polenta, not too heavy but fortifying enough to keep you partying for hours on St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps Chicago’s #1 party day of the entire year.