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Citygate Grille serves up pleasing Mediterranean fare

Petite filet with asparagus blue cheese au gratpotaCitygate Grille Naperville. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Petite filet with asparagus and a blue cheese au gratin potato at Citygate Grille in Naperville. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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2020 Calamos Ct., Naperville

(630) 718-1010

Prices: Appetizers, $8-$13; entrees, $16-$48; desserts, $6-$9.

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday (until 11 p.m. on Friday); 5-11 p.m. Saturday.

Try: grilled calamari, veal and rock shrimp, petite filet.

Wheels: Free garage plus valet parking available.

Tips: Reservations accepted. Full bar. Patio. Entertainment on weekends. Private dining room.

In a bite: CityGate Grille in Naperville offers local diners a full menu of traditional American fare with a Mediterranean influence.

KEY: ★★★★ Extraordinary; ★★★ Excellent;
★★ Very Good; ★ Good;
Zero stars: Poor

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Updated: September 4, 2012 6:03AM

CityGate Grille, a handsome, if out-of-the-way Naperville restaurant now in its third year, isn’t what I would describe as a destination restaurant, one with a high-profile chef or flamboyant menu.

But its attractive setting and pleasing, though predictable, Mediterranean-influenced fare continues to draw the business crowd from CityGate Centre as well as local residents comfortable with dropping $45 a person, excluding drinks, for dinner.

Our meal started on a high note: complimentary pita served with roasted garlic and parmesan cheese along with lavash, a crispy flatbread, with a roasted red pepper dipping sauce. Both were highly addictive.

That met our bread quota, so we skipped over a selection of hummus and pita and the steak, smoked chicken and truffle-scented mushroom flatbread pizza appetizers. Instead, fried calamari, an old standard, caught my fancy. The squid was tender, but its light buttermilk breadcrumb crust should have been a little crispier. The two accompanying sauces — tomato ouzo and sweet chili — were excellent.

The place is known for its seafood and steak, and both are represented among the starters, which included filet skewers, raw or char-grilled oysters, a crab cake, steak and burger slider trio and seared ahi tuna. A number of a la carte salads and soups also are available.

For $12, you can snag a half-pound Angus burger on brioche and plated with fries. But entrees typically cost from $16 (asiago gnocchi, patitsio) to $48, for a 20-ounce ribeye.

My veal scallopini and rock shrimp entree scored high for taste but lost points for its drab presentation. The two large, flattened pieces of veal sprinkled with the tiny shrimp cooked in Pernod butter, covered a mound of steamed garlic-seasoned spinach and whipped potatoes. A simple garnish to add color would have dressed up the plate.

My tablemate’s 8-ounce filet, served medium-rare as requested, was delicious and served with spinach and a blue cheese potato gratin. For an extra tariff, the kitchen will add a seasoned char crust, sauteed onions or mushrooms and bearnaise sauce.

Among other main-course selections were roasted chicken, steak risotto, seared diver scallops and, a special, farm-raised cobia, a fish found in Atlantic waters.

Desserts, none of which is made on the premises, included a rich, dark chocolate cheesecake with a raspberry coulis. Other tried-and-true treats at hand were creme brulee, carrot cake and ice cream.

CityGate Grille, which occupies the site that once housed Riva Restaurant, is tucked in a far corner on the main floor of the Calamos office building. It offers modern decor and scenic views from floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a private pond. Its staff is on the ball, and the pacing of meal service is unrushed.

Thomas Witom is a local free-lance writer.

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