What do you get when you mix Giuliana and Bill Rancic, chef Doug Psaltis, and Lettuce Entertain You offspring, RJ and Jerrod Melman? You get River North’s newest hotspot, RPM Italian. The dynamic group teamed up to create an Italian restaurant with a trendy club-like atmosphere, offering a large selection of Italian small plates, antipasti and homemade pastas. RPM proved to be the perfect spot to kick back and have a great time on Friday night.

At first glance, the menu is large and overwhelming and there are so many directions to go. Luckily our party of six was into family-style so we were able to sample a wide variety of dishes. We focused on the small plates and pastas and avoided the entrees for sharing purposes.

I think we all agreed that the best dish was the wood oven baked Prime Beef Meatballs. Moist, tender, cooked perfectly medium, and exploding with flavor, the balls were served with some of the freshest chunkiest tomato sauce I’ve ever tasted. I’m telling you, these meatballs were insane! We ordered the appetizer portion, but next time it’s Spaghetti & Meatballs all the way.

Other must orders: Giuliana’s Italian Salad, Truffled Farfalle with Taleggio and Beef Sugo. Mama DePandi’s Bucatini Pomodoro, and the 600-Day Prosiutto. Another favorite was the Fritto Misto; the fried asparagus and lemon alongside the calamari were a nice addition to the dish.

Dishes I’d Skip Next Time: Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad, Spicy Squid Ink Pasta, and Main Lobster Raviolis.

Nothing in particular jumped out at me when looking at the dessert menu; however, we still ordered three sweets. It ended up being better than the words on the paper. The Trutuffo, which looked like a giant meatball, was actually a ball of hazelnut gelato covered with a chocolate hazelnut shell.

All in all, it was a great night! Not everything I tasted I loved, and my biggest complaint was the portion sizes were on the small side. But the vibe was fun and energetic. I will definitely be back for the meatballs!

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