“Famiglia” style … not

Jim and Nancy do not disclose the fact that they will review a restaurant before they attend, ensuring their reviews are unbiased and uninfluenced by their position with the Sun Day.

A long, long time ago, on a Del Webb day trip far, far away, as we were passing by a restaurant, our friendly escorts Jan and Jerry suggested we review it. We put them on the “fast track” and only three short years later, we finally found the time to do it. Nancy investigated this restaurants menu and was really excited when she discovered they offered a family style dinner for $27.95 per person. It seemed like a fantastic deal, so off we went to Saranello’s Ristorante Italiano at the Westin Hotel in Wheeling.

Saranello’s Ristorante Italiano

601 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Wheeling 60090
(847) 777-6878

Directions: Take Rte. 47 South to I-90 East to Rte. 53 North to Lake Cook Road East to Milwaukee Avenue South to restaurant.

Estimated Travel Time: 45 minutes, in the pouring rain, 1 hour…

The restaurant has an outside entrance with complimentary valet parking available and it is handicap accessible. As we walked in, we were amazed at how large the restaurant was and how elegant the décor was. Surprisingly, the staff was unpretentious and friendly. You definitely need a reservation on a Saturday night due to the close proximity to the Lincolnshire Marriott Theatre. They have a theater pre-dinner menu every day, so check out the website for details.

Our waiter brought over what turned out to be the bestest and crunchiest rustic Italian bread that we have ever put in our mouths. This went well with the olive oil and Parmesan dip. The bread is like potato chips; you can’t stop eating it. I had two pieces, and after Jim’s third piece, I moved the bread basket far, far away from him.

The waiter asked if we were ready to order. Nancy proudly proclaimed that we were going to have the family style dinner tonight, and started rattling off our choices. Our waiter’s face went from a smile to a frown as he said, “sorry, family style dinners are for parties of four or more.” Let’s review this… We traveled 38 miles in a torrential downpour to review a family style dinner that we can’t have because Nancy didn’t see the fine print. She has the nerve to call ME a moron? The waiter was laughing at Nancy because she was tempted to go to the parking lot to grab two people to join us so we could order the family style dinner.

On to Plan B! We wanted the Crispy Calamari Giardiniera ($13.95) as an appetizer. This was fried calamari served with a side of giardiniera and marinara sauce. This was absolutely delish. The calamari was really tender and the giardiniera wasn’t hot and spicy like you would expect.

Everything here is a la carte. Nancy started her meal off with the small house salad ($4.95), and I had a bowl of Tuscano soup ($7.95). My soup had a cream of potato base and it was loaded with bell peppers and Italian sausage. It was hearty enough to be a meal.

Jim decided to have the Rigatoni with Sausage and Broccoli in a Parmesan Broth ($15.95). This was very tasty, but he thought it could have used more sausage.

Nancy chose the Braised Beef Ravioli with Meat Bolognese Sauce ($17.95). The ravioli contained lots of shredded beef and was really different. This dish spoiled her and she will probably never be satisfied with regular meat ravioli again.

On to dessert. We both spotted an old favorite, namely, Banana Tiramisu ($6.95) and had to have it. We always share our dessert, since I only like a couple of bites, which satisfies my sweet tooth. This was tiramisu with sliced bananas inside and out, with a layer of chocolate on top and drizzled with caramel sauce. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT pass this up. It was tiramisu with the taste of bananas foster and out of this world!!!

All of their pastas are made in house, by hand, and you can really taste the difference.

The cost for our not so famiglia style dinner was $83.46, mangia!

Jim’s take: I think tonight Nancy won with her dinner. That soup put me over the edge and I walked out with a Saranello shopping bag with both of our leftovers in it.

Nancy’s take: Jim’s dinner intrigued me. I loved that Parmesan broth and I’m trying to figure out how they made it. I’m still picking the beef out of my teeth from the ravioli.

Have comments or restaurant suggestions for the Dining Duo? Send them an email at thediningduo@gmail.com

Comment on This Story