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The Wrigley Field Chef Series goes Italian

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A review of Tony Mantuano’s menu for this homestand.

Watermelon salad with pecorino and pistachios
Sara Sanchez

The Chef Series continues at Wrigley Field during this homestand with Italian inspired ballpark fare from Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia. If you’re not familiar with Spiaggia, it’s one of the best Italian restaurants in Chicago and has a knack for turning out Top Chef Talent, including Season 15 winner Joe Flamm and Season 9 runner-up Sarah Grueneberg. Italian food wasn’t featured in last year’s Chef Series so I was particularly curious to see what Chef Mantuano had cooked up.

The menu features four items all of which manage to provide high-end Italian flavors in a ballpark friendly way. You can see all of the offerings and prices via Chicago Eater. Here are the Grilled Mortadella Steak and Luganega Sausage mentioned in the Eater article:

Courtesy Levy
Courtesy Levy

Here are some pics of the dishes I sampled on Friday:

Zucchini arancini - $9.50 for two
Sara Sanchez
Watermelon salad - $9.50
Sara Sanchez

I ordered two dishes, it was a sizable meal and more than enough for my dinner on Friday. Let’s start with the arancini, which have two to an order. Each arancini are about the size of a large meatball. They were very tasty. The tomato basil sauce is rich and the interior is filled with gooey cheese, zucchini and rice. My only complaint with this dish is that it wasn’t quite what I wanted in the 104 degree real feel that visited the Chicago area on Friday afternoon. It would have been perfect on a cooler day or during a night game. Lucky for me, I also ordered the watermelon salad.

The watermelon salad is a perfect dish for a hot summer day. Each cube of watermelon is about an inch square and it’s coupled with delicious salty pecorino and candied pistachios. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what exactly the pistachios are candied in, or what the salad was lightly dusted with, but it was incredible. Very tasty, light and perfect for the ballpark on a sweltering day. It was also remarkably easy to eat since the salad isn’t over dressed and the watermelon is bite-sized. This dish is a home run and I’ll be returning during the homestand to have it again. I also really want to try that sausage, which looked like an awesome upgrade for a ballpark classic.

Chef Mantuano greets you at the right field corner
Sara Sanchez

I’m not sure if people were scared off by the heat in the right field corner or if they just didn’t know what awesome food they could find there because the patio wasn’t very crowded on Friday afternoon. Luckily for Cubs fans they have a few more games to sample this incredible fare. Tony Mantuano’s menu is available through July 8, when the Cubs finish this homestand against the Reds.