With a little over 100 locations, mostly based in New England, Uno Chicago Grill is generally a fast-casual concept with a heavier emphasis on the bar. Many are located downtown, many have an outside porch, and many have a ton of space to handle lunch and evening crowds. The chain was founded in 1943 – in Chicago, to be sure – and claims to be the very chain that invented the legendary Chicago-style deep dish pizza. I can’t speak for the original, Windy City location, but the others around the country show off a lot of good food.
The menu generally consists of regular bar fare with some light Italian cuisine, pastas and pizzas.
- Chicago-style pizza: The classic deep-dish pizza, with a thick and crisp crunch and a fruity tomato sauce. Amazing with any toppings.
- The Uno Burger: The classic burger, a half-pound patty on a Challah roll with lettuce, tomato, onion, and something called “ultimate burger sauce.” The sauce is excellent, I just wish the burger had more of it; the patty is a little bland. Maybe it needs to be smaller, or else needs more seasoning.
- Baked ziti: The spot does Italian pasta dishes extremely well. The ziti is packed with cheese and a sauce with a slight heat. Good with a salad or something light.
- Roasted vegetable and goat cheese wrap: Roasted veggies and onions as well as goat cheese, lettuce, and a balsamic vinaigrette, all in a wrap. You’ll be surprised at just how filling it is, the veggies are very juicy and the goat cheese knocks it out of the park.
- Grilled four-cheese and tomato soup: The grilled cheese is exceptional, filled with sharp aged cheddar, mild cheddar, and Romano cheese, then grilled with a little bit of Parmesan cheese to form a nice crust. A little salty and delightful. It’s served with tomato soup, which is creamy and basic.
- Italian wedding soup: The classic soup is thick with the pasta and veggies and a broth. Fantastic.
- Roasted eggplant, spinach and feta flatbread: Spinach, roasted eggplant, sun-dried and plum tomatoes, caramelized onions, pesto, feta and shredded mozzarella. Great light lunch special.
- Turkey bacon Avocado: This BLT sandwich plus turkey is simple but delicious, the focaccia bread adds some herbs and tastiness. Loving it.
- Goat cheese & glazed walnuts salad: Topped with a blueberry pomegranate vinaigrette, this salad has a lot of strong flavors but altogether it’s light and very fresh.
- Grilled portobello cap: A delicious veggie option, seasoned with garlic and olive oil, grilled with melted Gorgonzola cheese. With pickled red onions, arugula, balsamic dressing and garlic mayo.
The atmosphere of the spot is nice. It doesn’t have the exact feel of a downtown Chicago bar, as I may have expected it to, but it does in fact have a sort of upscale feel to it. A little bit of luxury. In the rest of the Midwest, maybe the “Chicago Loop” feel is a little crowded. It’s got a big mixed drinks bar, and more importantly, it’s open late. At least for the downtown Dayton location, that’s something that not a lot of other spots in the area have. It’s also got some outdoor dining, which is good.
The service is also great, with servers frequently dropping by to make sure water is refilled and that things are generally smooth for the customers. All told, it’s nice to see this legacy expand outside of the city itself, and out across the country where the many dispersed Windy City transplants can enjoy it. Give it a try!
- Uno Chicago Grill serves up Chicago-style pizza, in fact it’s awesome in that regard, because it’s hard to find places with that exact style outside of Chicagoland, and this chain has a lot of locations in a lot of areas.
- The burgers are good, and I’d also recommend the soups and sandwiches.
- The bar also has a number of unique drinks.