In 1975, following two years of success running a Loop luncheonette, Alex Dana took over a Little Italy Men’s Supper Club, reopening as Bocciola della Rosa. Soon rechristened in English as Rosebud, the restaurant became incredibly popular with locals, visiting celebrities, and even reportedly the Chicago Mafia on the strength of its authentic Italian food and lively atmosphere.
40 years later, Rosebud continues have the hearts, and stomachs, of Chicagoans and has expanded to several locations around the city and out in the suburbs. To celebrate 40 incredible years of square pasta and Chicken Vesuvio, The Chicago Traveler was invited out to Carmine’s Bar & Lounge.
Located at 1043 N. Rush Street in the heart of the Gold Coast, Carmine’s is one of only a handful of Rosebud restraints not to feature the iconic name. In addition to featuring classic Rosebud dishes, Carmine’s is also known for their steaks and seafood. The restaurant offers two floors of open dining room seating in a steakhouse/fine dining atmosphere. Carmine’s or any of the Rosebud restaurants are not your super trendy new restaurant with 3D-printed décor and a menu serving cloned lamb meat, but these are Chicago classics providing quality food at a reasonable price.
In the summer months you’ll find most diners outside on the incredible patio space. If you’re into people watching, this stretch of the “Viagra Triangle” is great for gawking at goofy tourists, the rich and glamorous, and maybe a celebrity or two.
Sampling the Menu
For the event, there was a buffet selection of some of Rosebud’s original classics with current chef selections. Wine and a fruity, sweet special anniversary cocktail called the 1975 were served to go along with the meal, and a dessert section filled with tasty cannoli was waiting afterwards.
Pizza: Served as an appetizer during the event, the thin crust was perfectly crisp and light with an excellent balance of sauce and cheese.
Rosebud Pappardelle: Rosebud’s square noodle is a flat noodle smaller than lasagna that came about as an attempt to reuse the leftovers after cutting other pastas. This is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes and it’s easy to see why. Cooked right in the buffet line by the chef, the pasta was incredibly soft and practically melted in your mouth like a delicate piece of gnocchi. The softness of the pasta was balanced out by a rich, hearty tomato sauce. This is a must have if you’re visiting Carmine’s or any other Rosebud restaurant.
Rosebud Original Eggplant Salad: The eggplant salad takes arugula, thick tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and a dressing of balsamic and Italian and arranges it into like a faux club sandwich with the battered eggplant acting as bread. The Eggplant salad looked to die for on the plate thanks to the unique presentation and tasted just as good as it looked.
Filet Italiano: Cooked in a white wine garlic sauce with chicken stock and vinegar peppers, I could take each ingredient of this steak. It was cooked perfectly tender and packed full of complimentary flavors. Of the meat dishes I sampled, this was the clear winner.
Chicken Vesuvio: Garlic and white wine-flavored Chicken Vesuvio is a standard at many Chicagoland Italian restaurants, and you can thank Rosebud for helping to popularize the dish. The chicken on the bone was delicious and tender. Perhaps even better were the thick-cut, crisp potatoes on the side.
Chivalini Italian Sausage: Rounding out the meats was some quality Italian sausage. The sausage was tender and not too chewy with a bit of a kick and a very nice char flavor. While good, I still put my money on the Filet Italiano for best meat dish of the night.