Thursday, June 17, 2010
The Best Tapas in Chicago!
I first discovered Nia Mediterranean Tapas when I was down in the West Loop scouting for condos in the fall of 2008. Why I haven't written about it until now could be my selfishness in thinking, "hey this is my secret place!" But, it's time to let the cat out of the bag as they say and share this gem with all of you!
Back to my story.....I wandered in with a friend with the confidence that we would find just what we were looking for-a glass of wine and a "snack" to clear our heads of the wearying task of looking at spaces all day!
The first thing that I noticed beyond the soothing decor and shiny granite-topped bar, was the friendliness and warm welcome from the bartender, Marty, who made us feel right at home instantly by bringing over a small dish of warm and spicy olives. Yumm!
We ordered the Mediterranean Mussels in the spicy diavolo sauce, which were perfectly cooked and very plump! But the one thing that was calling out to me when I looked over the infinite choices of tapas, was the Pumpkin Gnocchi with brown butter, sweet potato and sage-sounded so earthy and perfect fare for a cool autumn evening. This, my friends is truly the most amazing gnocchi I have had in probably ever! I liken them to "little pillows" because that is what they look like. But what flavor when you break into them and the pumpkin filling mixes in with the sage and brown butter!
Fast forward a year and a half later...... Well, in the time that has passed, I actually have met Nia and consider her to be one of my friends! She is one of the sweetest and smartest people I have the pleasure to know. She is warm and cheerful and welcomes you in as if you are in her home and she's sharing her own table with you! She possesses a wealth of knowledge about food and she is a master at mixology too! The cocktails are fun and fresh and always change with the seasons.
I am now what one considers a "regular" at Nia and I have probably tried almost everything on the menu. From the Bacon-Wrapped Dates with red pepper butter sauce to the Lamb and Feta Meatballs, where there is just enough spice in the meatballs to balance the cheesy topping, and the Chickpea Puree which is a usual and staple for me- I think it's the horseradish cream topping that really keeps me coming back for more!
The specials however, are one of the reasons I keep going back (sometimes even 2X a week!) Nia's chef, Tara Pietroniro, has a wonderful and varied palate and really has a great talent with fish cookery- she just runs with it and no matter what I have tried, it has turned out to always be right on! They use local and sustainable goods and produce whenever possible too.
Well, I can't forget that the Sangria is amazing too! Whether you are a white or red sangria fan, they are serving up both- seasonal fruit is the real secret here!
If you are really hungry and there's more than one mouth to feed, you have to try their paella. It's a recipe right from Valencia and you will not be sorry! Choose chicken, pork or seafood.
So when you do get over to Nia, be sure to tell her that I sent you.......
Nia Mediterranean Restaurant
803 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Posted by joanne at 11:00 AM