“Sometimes the spaghetti likes to be alone.”

If you’ve seen the movie Big Night you’ll recognize that quote from the irascible chef Primo as he deals with 1950’s American restaurant-goers who think Italian food is spaghetti with red sauce and meatballs and nothing more.

Today of course Italian eateries are big business — from gourmet to fast food to just sucky (I worked there in college, trust me). In such a crowded space often the simplicity of homemade Italian food can be hard to find.


Anna Maria Pasteria, a small trattoria in Wrigleyville, serves uncomplicated, traditional Italian dishes. No fusion, nothing exotic. Just amazing homemade pasta, veggies, and meats. Two sisters, Maria Spinelli and Anna Picciolini, run the place and pervade it with a warmth that really is the closest thing I’ve found to the way restaurants feel in Italy. Close, comfortable, happy. And the service matches the food. Not showy, but ample.

Anna and Maria are originally from Ripacandida, Italy a small, hill-topping down about 15 minutes from Barile, my destination on Friday. Though the menu runs the gamut of Italian dishes that just about anyone would recognize, the sisters do make southern fare. These plates are invariably simple: pasta, a light sauce with herbs, and a meat. (Try the Pollo ai pignoli or the Capellini carrettiera.) Anna Maria Pasteria also serves a heavenly Tiramisu. Lighter than air.

A great send-off dinner before we embark for Italy. Highly recommended.