Filini, a contemporary Italian restaurant and bar located in the acclaimed Aqua Tower in Chicago's Lakeshore East neighborhood, will open its doors on Nov. 1, 2011, serving exquisitely prepared Italian fare with a uniquely modern twist.

Inspired by a love of the trattorias and ristorantes of Italy, Executive Chef Christian Fantoni honors the traditions of classic Italian cuisine and culture, while infusing them with an upscale, urban energy. The Bergamo, Italy, native arrives at Filini with a fine-dining pedigree from renowned New York City restaurants Le Bernadin, Le Cirque, and Fiamma Osteria, as well as Chicago's noted Bice restaurant.

“I want my love and passion for Italian food to transcend the plate,” explains Chef Fantoni. “The menu reflects the chic and elegant design of Filini, as clean, simple flavors take center stage.”

For the two-story, 150-seat restaurant and bar, sleek, oak walls and mosaic flooring set the tone for a modern yet inviting atmosphere. Filini offers a gathering place for all guests with a variety of communal seating; suspended, backlit booths; as well as floor-to-ceiling windows of expansive views of Columbus Drive and al fresco dining in the summer months. Modern globe light fixtures and white ceramic geometric tiles serve as a backdrop for the exhibition kitchen. A glass-encased wine wall showcases a wide variety of top Italian vintages.

Benvenuto: To Welcome
Upon arrival, guests will be greeted with complimentary Cerignola olives and Grand Padano cheese – similar to a Parmesan – provided fresh from a full wheel at the signature, central, communal dining table. Other starters include three house-baked Focaccia breads, a menu of signature Bruschettas, and Panne Carasau, an imported thin crisp flatbread from Sardinia. All starters serve as the perfect accompaniments for Italian imports such as fresh Mozzarella di bufala from Caserta in southern Italy and Burrata cheese and charcuterie including Prosciutto di Parma, Finocchiona Biellese and Speck Alto Adige carved tableside.

Antipasti selections will feature salads and shareable options such as the Polipo, octopus salad with black and white chick peas, radicchio and mint. Pasta courses will highlight freshly made selections, classic risottos and other seasonal choices, such fresh Gnocchi with braised oxtail, vegetable ragu and pecorino fonduta.

Second courses will showcase elegant twists on traditional dishes and clean simple flavors, such as Osso Bucco Milanese, Ipoglosso with olive oil-poached halibut as well as a braised rabbit dish, a childhood favorite of Chef Fantoni's. A selection of contorni—or “sides”—will be offered and the meal will conclude with dolce, or “sweets.” For dessert, Chef Fantoni will apply pastry skills gleaned from his time in Italy with offerings like the house-made gelatos and sorbets andBomboloni, Amaretti-scented doughnuts with three sauces.

Menu prices will range from USD 6 to 16 for appetizers and USD 15 to 18 for pastas. Main dishes will range from USD 24 to 32. Specials include a “Rapido” lunch (USD 12-15) with one plate meals like Italian cured meats and salad or warm Focaccia sandwiches with salad – served within 45 minutes. Chef Fantoni will also create daily Italian dinner specials prepared in traditional clay casseroles.

Per Rilassarsi: To Unwind 
With servers in blue tuxedo jackets and black jeans, Filini's downstairs bar sets the perfect environment of style and fun for after-work drinks or pre-dinner gatherings. The menu boasts selections of stuzzichini or “little bites” (USD 4-10 per plate) in decorative terra cotta dishes. In addition, the bar will serve pizzas in a large coal-fired oven (USD 9-13) like theSalsiccia with homemade fennel sausage, spicy tomato, mozzarella and garlic.

Di Indulgere: To Indulge
The evolving wine list will feature 10 or more high-value wines available by the glass and approximately 100 selections available by the bottle with some USD 30 or less. All wines by the glass will also be offered in half-bottle carafes. Specialty Italian magnum bottles, such as Altesino Brunello di Montalcino, and Argiolas Turriga “Isola dei Nuraghi,” will also be offered. Meanwhile, Filini's mixology program features a mix of Italian classics and contemporary cocktails.

“The approach to Filini is very simple,” Chef Fantoni explains. “We are looking to provide great food, world-class service and a delightful ambiance. Everything else is 'la dolce vita.'”

Filini will be open for dinner from 4 to 11 p.m. and for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Breakfast will be served from 6:30 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 6:30 to 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Valet parking is available. For reservations, please call +1 (312) 477-0234.