Restaurant Review: Rose Mary (Chicago)

by Anthony Losanno
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I spend most of the year living in Chicago’s West Loop. Some of the city’s best restaurants are steps from my front door. One nearby spot is constantly packed, but we managed to get a reservation this past Friday night and went back to Rose Mary. The restaurant is a mix of Italian and Croatian in a space that is industrial, yet filled with plants.

Anthony’s Take: Rose Mary has been lauded since it opened a few years ago. We’ve dined there several times. The first two, we loved everything about our meal. This past visit, we were disappointed. Our food was just okay with nothing tasting bad, but nothing noteworthy either. The service was terrible with a largely absent server and food that came out at an odd pace. Maybe it was an off night, but I can’t help but question if this is not partially to do with the chef/owner, Joe Flamm, taking the reins at BLVD Steakhouse a few blocks from Rose Mary and not being onsite as he was in the past.

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Decor & Vibe

The restaurant has a two-room dining room as well as a patio. Get a table in the main room. I’m not sure if it’s the acoustics or what, but it is nearly impossible to hear your dining companion in the back room. The main dining room holds a bar as well as many tables. I love the houseplants hanging from the ceiling throughout the restaurant.

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The kitchen is open and it’s fascinating to watch the operation at work.

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Plants are tucked on shelves and hanging from the ceiling. These, coupled with warm woods, make the dining room an inviting space.

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Menus are all found on a lucite cube with a QR code. The menu offers a mix of Italian and Croatian dishes. There is a good selection and generally everything is tasty. We were a bit disappointed on our last visit as we felt that in the past the food was better. Servers recommend four to five dishes per couple.

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We started with the Zucchini Fritters. These are served with a Pesto Aioli. These were good, but a bit overcooked.

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The Burek came next. It’s a light pastry stuffed with beef, onion, and mozzarella. It was fine, but the filling tasted a bit like Hamburger Helper.

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We had the Scampi Na Buzzara next. This dish is made with shrimp, tomato, and garlic. It was pretty bland.

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The Skradin Risotto arrived after a longer-than-expected pause. This was probably my favorite dish even though it was oversalted. Veal breast, parmigiano, chicken thigh, and tomato are a good mix of flavors and the risotto was creamy.

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After another wait, our Gemelli with lamb sausage, pesto Genovese, and pecorino arrived. We were full at this point, so we took it home. My husband enjoyed it for lunch the next day.

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Rose Mary has a nice wine list, cocktails, cider, and beer. We drank Lambrusco. It was dry and went nicely with our selections.

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Overall Impression:

Rose Mary is a good restaurant and we will be back even though we were there on an off night. Past meals were more enjoyable and we’ll make sure to avoid the back room. My review is based solely on this past meal and I will update when we dine there again in the future.

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(Featured Image Credit: OpenTable.)

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