Tomato Bucket List

It’s that time of year, when farmers’ markets and menus are ripe with tomatoes. All across Chicago, fresh fruits are making their way onto menus in all sorts of ways. Here are some of the must-eat dishes to maximize summer. 


Osteria Via Stato
Tomatoes aplenty at Osteria Via Stato

Tomatoes come both smoked and fresh at Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits, where chefs Beth Partridge, Dan Pancake, and Andrew Kerns are utilizing fresh-from-the-garden ingredients in all sorts of ways. Highlights from the summer menu are piquillo peppers with chorizo verde and fresh tomato, and duck sausage with provolone, basil, and smoked tomato. 

Nobody does tomatoes quite like Osteria Via Stato. For proof, the restaurant’s famous annual heirloom tomato dinner is set to take place August 31, featuring farm-fresh produce from Nichols Farm & Orchard. Courtesy of chef David DiGregorio, the multi-course dinner serves as a lustrous homage to summer’s finest fruit. It all starts at 6:30 p.m. with a reception, followed by dinner with wine pairings. The cost to attend is $68 per person and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. This is one not to miss!

Tony Priolo is a tomato mastermind. The chef of Piccolo Sogno and Nonnina maximizes the season in a big way at both restaurants, utilizing a variety of tomatoes throughout his menus. At Piccolo Sogno, dishes include gnocchi mixed with oven-dried tomatoes, crispy squash blossoms in tomato puree, and a grilled 16-oz. rib-eye with arugula, onion, and tomato salad. Over at his newly opened Nonnina, meanwhile, offerings include stuffed baby bell peppers with tomatoes and Italian sausage, caprese salad with local tomatoes, and spinach ribbon pasta called mafalde ai funghi trifolati with oven-dried tomato. 

Tomatoes are a fixture amid Formento’s antipasti offerings. A unique chef-driven interpretation of a salad assortment, the small plates feature vivid seasonal items like caprese with marinated tomatoes, pesto, and mozzarella; beef carpaccio with dried tomato and candied olives; and whipped ricotta with summer vegetables and country bread. 

Tomatoes and seafood are a match made in heaven at Sink|Swim, which just rolled out its midsummer menu with selections like pan-roasted halibut served with mussels, shrimp, sweet pepper, and tomato. And don’t forget to try the spicy lobster tagliatelle with tomato and Calabrian chili. 

Heirloom tomatoes are all over the menu at Davanti Enoteca. From the antipasti section, where roasted cherry tomatoes adjoin Burrata and basil pesto, to the pastas and sides, they’re sweetening up the seasonal menus in all sorts of ways. For pasta, there’s a paccheri preparation made with sausage and oven-dried tomato, while the fruits lay the framework for the pizza D.O.C., outfitted with fresh mozzarella and basil. 

Come lunchtime, Quartino has a few new sandwich selections to check out (conveniently just in time for National Sandwich Month, too!). This includes a succulent Italian sub made with coppa and prosciutto cotto, plus imported mortadella, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, and housemade giardiniera.

Summer isn’t only about red tomatoes. Don’t forget about the green variety too, especially when they’re fried. Seven Lions has the perfect dish for those comfort food cravings. The handiwork of chef Patrick Russ, blackened sea scallops are served with corn and fried green tomatoes.  

- Matt Kirouac