Julia Kramer revisits Macello, an Italian restaurant in the West Loop.
Giovanni DeNigris opened this Italian restaurant in 2007; it temporarily closed in February 2009, after a fax machine caused a fire; and where the Italian-speaking regulars could have possibly found a substitute in the interim year before it reopened last month is a mystery. Because while the walls (exposed brick) and the light fixtures (multicolored balls of glitz that would be at home in a Jerry Kleiner restaurant) are straight-up West Loop, the food here—and the people eating it—are straight-up Puglia. From the wood-burning oven comes a crisp pizza carefully layered with thin slices of mortadella, then topped with scoops of curdlike, creamy burrata. The pizza’s burning hot; the burrata’s cool; the combined effect is dreamy. Also from that oven are lamb chops, inches thick and four to an order. They’ve been cooked at such an astronomical heat that it will take a good ten minutes before the toothsome risotto beneath them cools enough not to scald you. But if your experience is anything like mine, the wait will be worth it. 1235 W Lake St (312-850-9870).