Executive Chef Tony Mantuano has elevated Italian food in Chicago, literally and figuratively, with Spiaggia. For the literal part, Spiaggia looks down from the second floor on one of the city’s toniest shopping corners, Michigan Avenue and Oak Street, and its floor-to-ceiling windows give way to a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan. (Spiaggia, by the way, is Italian for “beach.”) On the figurative note, Spiaggia was the first (and remains the only) four-star Italian restaurant in Chicago. As of deadline, the dining room was undergoing a redesign, so we can’t speak to the decor, other than to say Spiaggia has a deserved reputation for lavishness (as evidenced by its dress code requiring jackets and banning jeans). At $85, a mere shaving of white Italian truffles on your meal costs as much as a meal for two at a more modest restaurant. But if you’ve come to Spiaggia, you’re clearly not counting your pennies, so splurge on the $115 four-course menu (which includes antipasto, pasta, protein, and dessert) and taste all of the vibrant straight-from-Italy flavors, such as risotto with Parmigiano Reggiano and balsamic, and Wagyu beef with mushroom and potato, all paired perfectly (upon request) with a red or white from the exhaustive wine list.

If you’re not prepared to shell out the big bucks, visit the adjacent Café Spiaggia ([tel] 312/280-2755) for a less formal meal for lunch or dinner