In a recent conversation, Tavernita chef Ryan Poli pointed to Near as one of the most underrated restaurants in the Chicago area. "It doesn't even get local press," said Poli. That's probably because it's out in the suburbs, but fans say it's worth it to go and try former Schwa sous chef Gaetano Nardulli rustic Italian food, which reflects the chops he honed in Italy and at famed local spot Spiaggia.
For nearly three years, Gaetano Nardulli was sous-chef — or, in his words, "the guy wearing the hat inside the window" — at the highly regarded Schwa in Wicker Park. But when it came time to open his own place, Nardulli moved downtown — as in downtown Barrington, a shorter commute for the lifelong suburbanite.
Better Near Than Never
We at Dish do our best to give you, dear reader, all Chicago-area restaurant news in a timely fashion. Although it opened in August 2011, Near (108 Barrington Commons Ct., Barrington, 847-382-1919) didn’t register for us till recently. “It took a lot of people a long time to find us,” says Gaetano Nardulli, Near’s chef/owner. “But I kind of wanted it that way. I wanted it to be a word-of-mouth place.”
NEAR Restaurant in the Barrington Commons mall is about as Italian-looking as Leonardo DiCaprio. Its clean and simple interior helps keep the focus on the restaurant's main attraction: Italian cuisine at its finest.