[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

I've seen all kinds of terms used to denote that something was created from scratch in the kitchen, but I don't think I've ever run across "handcrafted" before. It would have been easy for me to scoff at the handcrafted spaghetti ($15) if I wasn't in Terzo Piano, which is overseen by Chicago's current master of Italian cuisine, Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia). Perched on the third floor of the airy and open Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, the restaurant is worth going for the view of Millennium Park alone. But if you're hungry, or if you just spent a few hours gawking at one of the great art collections in the world, it's in your best interest to grab a seat and order some pasta.

The spaghetti, indeed, is handcrafted; instead of smooth and uniform, the noodles are rough and irregular, with just the right amount of al dente bite. The worst thing the kitchen could do would be to smother them in some overbearing sauce. Instead, the dish accented with plump shrimp, sweet corn, and just a little complex heat from some Aleppo pepper. The result is a light and delicate pasta, which will hopefully perk you up enough to check out another random hallway of the museum.

Terzo Piano

159 E. Monroe, Chicago IL 60603 (map)


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