When we think of hydroponics, salad isn't the first thing that comes to mind.
But it should be, now that J. Rocco Italian Table is growing its own greens (for eating, not smoking) at an on-site hydroponic garden at its new River North location.
This rustic Italian eatery is a science experiment gone terribly right, where the glowing garden is hidden in the back, so it doesn't distract from the glowing display case of wine glasses.
Technology aside, the food digs deep into the roots of the chef’s old-world Italian butcher heritage, which means an intense charcuterie program complimented by hand-tossed pizzas and housemade pastas served with a choice of five different meatballs.
Bring 11 friends to the chef's table to feast on lamb scallopini with spicy greens and garlic chips or onion-crusted sturgeon with Swiss chard and acorn squash in a brown butter sage sauce. Toast to the future, or just good food, with one of 15 wines available by the glass along with cocktails using herbs from the garden.
Looks like farm-to-table just got replaced by garden-to-table.
Price: 3 (out of 4)
Noise: 2 (out of 4)
Subway: Red or Brown Line to Chicago
Scene: Diners seeking a hydroponic Italian eating experience
Best bets: Pork belly tagliatelle; lamb meatballs; buratta with mom's gravy
Nearby: Zed 451; 25 Degrees; Clark Street Ale House