Tuscany the spot for dependable Italian menu favorites in a hurry
By PAT BRUNO August 24, 2011 5:22PM
Vitella Milanese is medallions of veal that are breaded and served with baby arugula salad and marinated tomatoes. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times Photos
1415 W. 22nd St., Oak Brook; (630) 990-1993; tuscanychicago.com
Hours: Open for lunch and dinner at 11:30 a.m. Monday-Friday and for dinner at 5 p.m. Saturday. Closed on Sunday.
Prices: Antipasti and pizza, $6-$11; pasta, $13-$22; entrees, $15-$33; desserts $8.
Try: Pizza, grilled octopus, vitella Milanese, cappellini.
In a bite: Holding forth in the Oak Brook area for 20 years now, Tuscany continues to draw a steady stream of regulars. The main menu is composed of basic dishes that you would expect to find on an Italian menu. A better bet would be the specials list, which manages to strike a spark of creativity. The bar is as busy as a bar can get. The dining rooms (the open kitchen is in the middle) are reasonably spacious, but when the place is full, the servers have to do a ballet to get around. Conversation is challenged when the dining rooms are full. Service is speedy (often too much so). The wine list may not be impressive in depth, but the prices are reasonable. Good for children. Reservations suggested.
KEY: ★★★★ Extraordinary; ★★★ Excellent;
★★ Very Good; ★ Good; Zero stars: Poor
Updated: August 25, 2011 6:15PM
What’s with Italian restaurants these days? Why does everything have to happen so fast?
Tuscany in Oak Brook is a good example. Granted it was a weekend night, and the restaurant was busy (although there were empty tables), but the pace, from appetizer on through to dessert, was at a buzzing Vespa clip that made the whole experience uncomfortable. Plates, literally, hit the table with a thump. And then another time, our waiter — juggling four plates — hovered, looking at us for a signal as to who gets what. This is not good.
Italian-style dining has been fast forwarded to the point where it has lost, in far too many instances, that personal touch. Good timing between courses is the standard. Moving one plate aside to make room for another is stupid. Civility is all I’m asking for.
When Tuscany has it all together, it can be a nice place to dine. It’s been a staple in Oak Brook for around 20 years, so it has gathered a loyal following. And the free parking is a nice plus. Also the menu, though not a spellbinder of creativity, covers the basics. At the same time, the price range is such that you can actually eat on the cheap.
And we did stay with several courses of basic interest. The first being a rather good pizza, a classic Margherita. The crust was thinner than I like, but it had a crispy goodness that worked fine with the light tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil topping.
And it was no surprise to find grilled octopus as an antipasto. Here was an instance where our waiter stepped up to the plate. He deftly managed to split this dish for the three of us, cutting through the octopus with authority and portioning it out along with the salad in a way that made sense.
And then it was on to vitella Milanese, another “expected” Italian dish (whether around here or in Italy). Tuscany used medallions of veal, which were pounded and lightly breaded. The veal was plated with a baby arugula salad, Parmigiano and quartered marinated tomatoes. In all a very good dish.
Pesce spade alla griglia (grilled swordfish) was picked from the specials list one night. The thick swordfish steak got a proper grilling, so its essential moisture and flavor were intact. Though the dish was a bit overwrought with its melange of roasted potatoes and a julienne of baby green zucchini, at least it was colorful. But it was the sun-dried tomato and caper “sauce” spread atop the swordfish that captured the essence of why swordfish is so revered in Italy.
Pasta dishes at Tuscany run the usual gamut that includes ravioli (the ravioli with roasted pear, Parmigiano and mascarpone cream has been on this menu since day one and is quite good), linguine with scampi, and a luscious simple capellini with a light San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil.