RPM Italian is the place to see and be seen in Chicago. With its swanky interior, expertly curated menu, and star-powered owners, Giuliana and Bill Rancic, RPM is a culinary force to be reckoned with. Surprisingly for such a high profile restaurant, RPM also has a massive gluten-free menu that includes house-made pasta, vibrant antipasti, and more fresh seafood than you’d ever know what to do with…
It wouldn’t be a meal at RPM without one of their carefully crafted cocktails, so I enjoyed the Spritz & Giggles, a simple yet refreshing drink comprised of vodka, prosecco, and raspberry. The drink was garnished with fresh mint, which gave it a pleasant aroma as well.
For the appetizer round, I ordered the Tuscan kale and spinach salad, and Mediterranean octopus. The salad was garnished with thinly sliced radish and lemon rind, in addition to a simple dressing that accentuated the taste of the naturally flavorful greens. The octopus was cooked to perfection, and was without a doubt one of the most well-executed renditions of the dish I have ever experienced. The octopus was accompanied by chickpeas and celery, the latter an accouterment I never would have imagined would pair well with seafood, but really did. The richness of the chickpeas gave the octopus depth, while the celery provided a lighthearted crunch. The dish was magnificent.
Next came spicy king crab pasta, a delightfully luscious addition to my meal. The gluten-free pasta was really in a league of its own here – completely tender and flavorful, and not overly starchy like many gluten-free pastas turn out to be. The spicy crab sauce was so thick and delicious it reminded me more of a gravy than a typical pasta sauce, to which I had no complaints. In this course, I also ordered the giant prawns, which really lived up to their name. These things were huge! Typically the prawns are not on the gluten-free menu for whatever reason, but the chef was able to accommodate the dish to my needs without sacrificing any of the flavor.
For the main course, I enjoyed the grilled swordfish. This meaty fish was a joy to look at and consume. The grill marks were flawless, making the dish aesthetically pleasing, and the red pepper tapenade plated on top added an element of excitement to typically predictable protein. As a side to accompany the swordfish, I ordered the cauliflower and hazelnuts. I can tell you that cauliflower is usually the last thing I’d order at a restaurant, but my server suggested I order the dish and they really came through. The cauliflower was roasted to perfection, and the addition of toasted hazelnuts and golden raisins created an amalgam of flavors that really worked nicely together.
When it comes to dessert, RPM has one of the largest menus I have ever seen. They really don’t skimp on the gluten-free options, either. Since I also can’t eat dairy, I opted for the green apple sorbetto with mint, lemongrass cider, and kiwi, and the prosecco & grapefruit granita with fresh grapefruit and enough prosecco to give you that perfect, end-of-meal buzz. If you can enjoy dairy, you can eat most of the daily ice creams and sorbets and all three of the affogatos on the menu. There’s also Bill’s chocolate budino, with salted caramel and cocoa nibs, which has been a favorite among my family for years.
A lot of restaurants on the same tier as RPM are known more as establishments you frequent just for the atmosphere or scene, but RPM is much more than that. For one, the food is absolutely pristine. With each dish, it is apparent that every minute detail is attended to in the kitchen. Secondly, the service goes above and beyond, especially when it comes to dietary restrictions. If something isn’t on the gluten-free menu but you’re really craving it, the kitchen is willing to walk the extra mile to make you happy, within reason, of course. Whether you’re going to enjoy a glass of wine and some antipasti for a quick bite, or are in for a full meal that most definitely will not disappoint, RPM is where you should be dining tonight.