Flavor Trip

A new Italian menu on the Mag Mile

Michigan Avenue's culinary street cred is growing.

First, The Purple Pig bumped it up. Now, Cafe Spiaggia's revamp is the newest reason to head to the Mag Mile for dinner.

The 25-year-old café, across the hall from its fine-dining sibling, recently underwent a renovation, complete with antique mirrors and inviting banquettes. The new small-plates menu, 28-deep, is another reason to settle in for the night.

Start with kale chips ($4), fried in olive oil until crackling and seasoned with pecorino, lemon zest and chiles. Share a jar of smoked trout ($11), accompanied by fried parsley and capers for piling on grilled bread.

A wealth of flavors come from the wood-burning oven: veal rib with lentils ($14); sausage-stuffed calamari ($13); Alaskan sockeye salmon, served over fregola, fennel and fresh orange dressed in a fruity Italian olive oil ($15).

Many of the pastas are holdovers from the old menu; we're happy to see that the thick farro spaghetti with chiles and clams ($17) is still here, but elevated with bottarga and fried breadcrumbs.

Finish the meal with cheese–like the lush Robiola Due Latte, recently served with a pool of peach-poppy seed jam ($9)–and a Café Spiaggia classic: their flawless tiramisu ($9).

Cafe Spiaggia, 980 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-280-2750 or cafespiaggia.com