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updated: 6/18/2014 3:12 PM

Chicago Prime Italian a vibrant addition to Schaumburg scene

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  • Sous chef Mireya and executive chef Javiel Villalobos show off some of their favorite dishes on the Chicago Prime Italian menu.

       Sous chef Mireya and executive chef Javiel Villalobos show off some of their favorite dishes on the Chicago Prime Italian menu.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Baked salmon comes with seasonal vegetables.

       Baked salmon comes with seasonal vegetables.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Chicago Prime Italian's menu features steaks like the New York Strip Portobello.

       Chicago Prime Italian's menu features steaks like the New York Strip Portobello.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Eggplant salad is a favorite at Chicago Prime Italian in Schaumburg.

       Eggplant salad is a favorite at Chicago Prime Italian in Schaumburg.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Chicago Prime Italian nicely executes Shrimp de Jonghe.

       Chicago Prime Italian nicely executes Shrimp de Jonghe.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Chicago Prime Italian's outdoor patio welcomes diners for a leisurely meal.

       Chicago Prime Italian's outdoor patio welcomes diners for a leisurely meal.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • The large, open dining room at Chicago Prime Italian can get loud on the weekends.

       The large, open dining room at Chicago Prime Italian can get loud on the weekends.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Chicago Prime Italian opened earlier this year in Schaumburg.

       Chicago Prime Italian opened earlier this year in Schaumburg.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Chicago Prime Italian in Schaumburg.

       Chicago Prime Italian in Schaumburg.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Thomas Witom
Daily Herald Correspondent

Chicago Prime Italian's recent opening attests to the continuing vibrancy of Schaumburg's dining-out scene.

The new arrival, owned by Andy-John Kalkounos, is housed in space previously occupied by Rosebud Old World Italian. Yet in a sense, Chicago Prime Italian represents a homecoming for the Kalkounos family of restaurateurs. Kalkounos's father, George, first debuted Chicago Prime Steakhouse in that spot in 1999, where it remained until 2007 when it was relocated 2 half miles north to Algonquin Road.

As it turns out, most of the staff has remained through the latest transition, though Kalkounos hired as its executive chef Javiel Villalobos who perfected his culinary skills at the late Giannotti's Italian Steakhouse in Schiller Park.

Chicago Prime Italian's large menu plays it by the book, offering diners a full complement of classic dishes. Fettuccini Alfredo, fusilli carbonara, meat lasagna with imported cheeses, and marinara and cheese ravioli are all available.

Also present and accounted for are veal Milanese, Marsala and parmigiana plus veal chop saltimbocca. You'll also find pork chops Calabrese, zuppa di mare and two kinds of risotto.

Portions are geared toward ravenous appetites, and the pastas -- either house-made or imported -- are affordably priced in the midteens. Veal, steak and seafood preparations are more dear at $24-$37.

Tradition also characterizes the appetizer selections, where such choices as fried calamari, baked clams, steamed mussels, sausage and peppers and caprese salad prevail. Shrimp de jonghe, featuring four jumbo shrimp sauteed in garlic and oil with a garlic-herb crust, was nicely executed but at $15 a tad pricey. It's also available as an entree.

When it comes to eggplant Parmesan, Chicago Prime Italian can hold its head high. Its version of this humble dish -- the eggplant, mozzarella, Parmesan and marinara all working in harmony -- is fit for the gods.

Equally tasty was gnocchi Bolognese, Italy's much-loved tiny potato dumpling dish served with homemade meat sauce.

On the plus side, our entries included a choice of soup (minestrone, pasta fagiole, chicken rice) or house salad (a cut above the norm, with mixed greens, tomato, garbanzos, cucumber and a creamy blue cheese dressing, as one of several choices).

Check out daily specials, which can include beef carpaccio salad, goat cheese rigatoni, charbroiled lamb chops and New York strip with Portobello mushrooms.

Chicago Prime Italian doesn't go out on any limbs with dessert. The lineup includes tiramisu, creme brulee, cheesecake, cannoli and flourless chocolate cake with rum ganache and Key lime mousse. I tried a scoop of caramel gelato and found it lacking pronounced flavor.

A full bar sells wine heralding mainly from Italy, France and the United States by the glass ($8-$15) or bottle ($28-$299).

On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays there's free live entertainment in the lounge. Specific programs are updated on the restaurant's website.

Reservations are accepted. But be prepared on busy weekends during peak hours to confront an elevated decibel level -- a persistent issue that can challenge intimate conversation. At those times, service also can be prone to disruption.

Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.

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