The latest character to appear in Chicago’s West Loop’s packed cast of eateries, Monteverde has quickly captivated audiences as the friendly Italian on the block.

Directing the spectacle is Sarah Grueneberg, former executive chef of the upscale Italian intuition Spiaggia and a 2012 ‘Top Chef’ contestant, along with managing partner Meg Sahs. Monteverde (the Italian translation of the chef’s last name) may be Grueneberg’s first restaurant, but she rises to the occasion with handmade fusilli, tortellini, and pappardelle rolled and cut on a stage behind the bar and perfectly cooked al dente. Bookending the entrees are memorable snacks and small plates, such as skewered grilled octopus and rich artichokes, and decadent desserts like a salted-butterscotch budino (think crème brulee, but better).

Thoughtful design choices by Studio K give Monteverde Italian kitchen authenticity. A sprawling butcher block bar, stocked with well-priced Italian wines and fresh cocktail ingredients, feels right at home amidst plasterwork from Northern Italy and wooden cutting boards adorned with artwork. For an at-home Monteverde experience, buy a bag of Grueneberg’s pasta on the way out.