Restaurateur Aldo Zaninotto, owner of Chicago Award of Excellence winner Osteria Langhe, has a new Italian spot in the city’s Logan Square neighborhood. Testaccio officially opened earlier this month following a brief soft opening late last summer, before it was forced to close due to COVID shutdowns. The restaurant is named after, and inspired by, Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood.
“I had the idea to do a restaurant that would bring the feel of Testaccio to Chicago since 2019 … When the opportunity to get the space happened in 2020, we jumped right on it,” Zaninotto told Wine Spectator via email. “[The Testaccio neighborhood] has so much to offer. So much history, layers and traditions told through the food and wine.”
Overseen by Zaninotto, Testaccio’s wine list includes more than 65 labels, mostly from southern Italian regions like Sicily, Abruzzo and Campania. While there are wines from other Italian regions like Tuscany and Sardinia, there are none from northwestern Italy, a marked difference from Osteria Langhe’s Piedmont-heavy list. Wines from Greece, France, Turkey and Lebanon are also featured. “[These regions] represent the Mediterranean influence on Roman culture and cooking,” Zaninotto said. “I selected wines that are diverse in style … that complement our cuisine while still speaking to tradition.” In total, there are about 1,000 bottles in Testaccio’s inventory.
Roman fare is at the core of chef Jacob Solomon’s menu, including cacio e pepe, carbonara, porchetta and artichokes with lemon aioli. Most dishes are cooked in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven, a traditional tool for Roman cuisine, according to Zaninotto. He describes Testaccio’s atmosphere as “bright, lively and airy.” Reflecting Rome’s juxtaposition of old and new, the space combines design elements like vintage furniture, colorful porcelains and local modern art.
Testaccio is currently only open for indoor dining at half capacity, but guests will have access to the restaurant’s sizable patio later this year. And this spring, Zaninotto will open the Parisian-inspired Soif Wine Lounge in the basement level of Testaccio, serving small bites and grower Champagnes. The restaurateur is also debuting a food truck this summer called Pizzica, featuring Italian street food and wines on tap.—C.D.