1631 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL

I'd rather go to Olive Garden...

and I really love Italian food- the more authentic, the better. To be honest, I hesitate to review restaurants that I don’t enjoy because I feel bad to hurt anyone’s business. The server at Gio was friendly, the atmosphere is calm and pleasant, so I wanted to like it. But the bottom line for me is always the quality of the food, and this place just doesn’t make the cut. In a word, the food is bland, and though the price list is not overwhelming, portions are small enough that you’re not really getting a good deal. I have read some positive reviews about their pizza, so maybe there are some hidden gems on the menu, but I was underwhelmed enough that I won’t be going back.

Mussels with Spicy Tomato Basil Broth

There were a few good mussles among this bunch, but the majority of them were very dirty and had the flavor of stale sea water that not-so-fresh fish and shellfish tend to have. I also think that many people use the word “spicy” when they actually mean “flavorful,” because they are so used to eating dull food. These were neither spicy nor very flavorful, I felt absolutely no heat on my tongue, and the tomato and basil barely came through (they were especially difficult to taste while chewing on sand).

Mezzaluna alla Chitarra

Half-moon ravioli filled with lobster, scallops, and ricotta, served with a lobster sauce. It was edible. Certainly not bad, but not good either. The filling had none of the sweetness of lobster or scallops, and the texture was something like curdled ricotta; the pasta itself was gummy and a little slimy. And, as if this place can only have one flavor profile, the dish was topped with tomatoes and basil, just like the mussels. But even these “fresh” ingredients were dull to the palate. The basil leaves were visibly wilted and spotted, and while I might make due with fading ingredients at home, I expect more out of a restaurant on a Friday night.

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