Di Sotto Enoteca Italian | Streeterville, Chicago

The charms of the subterranean Di Sotto Enoteca

Descend the floral-carpeted stairs inside 200 East Chestnut and turn right. There, you'll find the new Di Sotto Enoteca, a low-lit, stone-walled cave that feels worlds away from Francesca's above.

Charcuterie, cheese, an assortment of bruschetta and a smattering of simple appetizers–including Davanti's ricotta with honeycomb–supplement the 36 wines available by the glass.

We found that a plate of Creminelli's wild-boar salami ($7) with a glass of Laetitia Pinot Noir ($13) is a sure-fire way to forget the bustle lurking outside.

From there, make a meal of thick slabs of grilled, rustic bread with toppings like oil-packed tuna with cannellini beans and herbs ($8) or bollito di manzo, braised and shredded beef atop a punchy salsa verde ($10).

The wine list is ripe with values from Spain, France, Italy and the United States, and is certain to improve under new general manager Yvonne Holden.

Citing Rootstock and Webster's as her inspiration, Holden plans to gradually revamp the cellar, adding Greek, Slovenian and lesser-known Spanish bottles. She says she'll focus on small producers, create tasting flights and launch a program of public wine classes.

Another perk of this Streeterville wine bar: It's open until 2 a.m. weekdays and until 3 a.m. on weekends, making it a fine spot for a late-night escape.

Di Sotto Enoteca, 200 E. Chestnut St.; 312-482-8800