To be fair, Chicago is a tough, tough town for Italian restaurants to compete -- there's so many truly great Italian restaurants, what might be great in another city is just so-so in Chicago. Gioco had a number of problems, many of which revolved around inconsistent pricing and failing to inform us of prices of items not on the menu.
1) Some of the food was very good. Desserts were disappointing and the pricing was uneven - some food a bargain, and then a very, very small side of vegetables was $8.
2) Our waiter was a little less than fluent in English, which may have compounded the problem. He recommended an appetizer, saying it was similar to a caprese salad. He did not mention the price and we went with it. The appetizer was very good, similar to a caprese salad, but not in price - the salad cost $12, the appetizer was a stunning $27. We certainly believe that the waiter should inform customers if a special is priced well outside the rest of the menu. Few entrees were in that price range.
3) My wife ended up sending back her soup - it was still on the bill, but eventually was taken off.
4) I don't care for potatoes and had them held back from my veal dish. At most restaurants, they would have substituted some vegetable. Instead, I just received a fairly small portion.
5) The wine recommended by the waiter was good and a reasonable value ($42). I ordered a grappa recommended by this same waiter -- $17, not such good value, and no drink menu that would have informed me of the price.
6) This is a pet peeve, not directly under the restaurant's control. When the valet returned the car, they had not removed snow from the rear window, and unbeknown to us, they had turned the headlights off -- definitely annoying, and somewhat dangerous.
7) The chef did come out over the soup and was more defensive than anything.
I wanted to like Gioco, but with so many great Italian restaurant alternatives, I can't see going back.
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