Alfresco dining without the sidewalk smog

July 2, 2010

I get a kick out of seeing all of the outdoor patios that spring up this time of year.


photo by Dean Golemis

 As much as I love seeing people enjoying the weather, I can never quite understand why they subject themselves to yapping dogs, out-of-control cyclists and worst of all, the incessant exhaust and noise from the adjacent traffic.

As I peruse the outdoor dining options in the summer, I always gravitate toward places with respites; private alcoves hidden away behind the kitchen, or better yet, a landscaped area with sturdy chairs and tables, rather than the plastic crap you can get at Home Depot. In Roscoe Village, Volo has the most charming little back patio, completely hidden from the street (and eerily quiet). It looks like a Shabby Chic ad, with semi-private alcoves and weather-worn walls. There's even a small coachhouse in the back that can be used for overflow or private parties. The food is pretty damn good too. A spring pea flatbread could have been ripped from the Lula playbook.


Piccolo Sogno's patio (photo by Joseph Storch)

Piccolo Sogno always manages to garner a lot of summertime press for their back patio, but it's well-deserved. This is the most spectacular patio in the city, completely walled-in, and overflowing with fig trees and other green amenities. Chef Tony Priolo's food isn't elegant, it's just straight-forward rustic Italian with an emphasis on everything made in-house (even the tiny little breadsticks). His pasta is hard to beat, and now that he's getting in produce every week from the markets, as well as importing killer burrata, his pizzas are a must.