Last night, my wife and I decided to try Soprano's at 2901 North Sheffield in Chicago, near the corner of George and Sheffield. The restaurant was formerly Carlucci's.
My first impression of Soprano's was very positive. The dark wood trim frames a pleasant airy space that is well illuminated with small white lights year round. Red and white checkered tablecloths, a serious looking bar, and leather booths tell you you're in an well thought out space run by serious restaurant people, promising a good meal.
It was late on a Wednesday night and our waiter was clearly not happy to be there. Aside from a large party who left shortly after we arrived and a group of women who stopped in for coffee and dessert, we were the only customers in the place. The waiter was polite and efficient, but carried a sad, tired expression like he would have rather been asleep or in Hawaii, i'm not sure which.
My wife ordered lobster tortellini in a tomato cream sauce, which she found tasty. However, she also felt the ravioli pasta itself was either overcooked, or had been inadequately robust for the ravioli to begin with. She was happy with the lobster and shrimp in the sauce.
I ordered linguini with calamari in garlic and oil. The dish, like the surroundings, looked beautiful. The calamari, however was overcooked. The herbs (italian parsley and mint, I believe) were in good proportion, bringing an interesting flavor to the dish, but the oil and garlic sauce could better be described as oil and garlic in water. The linguini itself was perhaps a little undercooked - a taste of raw flour remained - and the pasta itself was not as high quality as the surroundings led me to expect.
We each had a glass of the only Sangiovese on the menu. It was OK, but perhaps not as good as the $6.75 asking price.
One high note was a cup of cream of potato soup my wife and I shared as an appetizer. The soup was excellent, with the right mix of blended potato and potato chunks. I'm not sure this qualified as an Italian dish, but it qualified as the best thing we had that night.
To be fair to Soprano's, the menu is meat-heavy and my wife and I are ovo-lacto-pesce-vegetarians. We were probably not ordering from the "A-list" items on the menu. However, that's how we and others like us (or those just not in the mood for veal or steak) will experience Soprano's.
We didn't have dessert, but the tiramisu looked very well done, as did the other desserts they brought for the table next to us.
If you're looking for soup, a steak, and dessert Soprano's may be worth visiting. I don't think I'll be going back, though. There are just too many other good places to eat in this city.