The tantalizing flavors of Italy lured us to La Za’Za’ Trattoria at the corner of Route 64 and First Street in St. Charles, just west of the downtown bridge.
We enjoyed one last warm day outdoors on its patio bordering the public dining plaza with scenic city views, underscored by the trattoria’s romantic soundtrack.
As soon as we sat down, a warm loaf of exceptionally good Italian bread arrived with butter, which we soon had melting into the crusty slices. They were so good, we had to remind ourselves to leave room for everything else.
A hint of chill in the air put us in the mood for something hearty and warming, so we opened with one of the antipasti starters: the Risotto Paisano.
It’s delicious, featuring arborio rice, wild mushrooms and peas in a garlic white wine sauce, studded with generous slices of Italian sausage that our attentive server told us is made in house. The sausage had a terrific flavor and texture, and paired well with the intensely earthy and appetizing mushrooms.
My companion selected the Pork Chops Artigiano, featuring two, center French-cut chops with pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts in a garlic white wine sauce.
“The chops were juicy and tender,” he said.
The pork chops are accompanied by a side of roasted potatoes, but my companion substituted angel hair pasta. The pasta was beautifully prepared in a luscious crushed plum tomato sauce with roasted garlic and sweet basil, topped with Parmigiano.
I got to enjoy the roasted potatoes with my entree, the Petto di Pollo Marsala. The potatoes were nicely done, and in a tasty seasoned sauce. The entree starred pan-roasted chicken breast with wild mushrooms and a sweet Marsala wine sauce. The large portion provided welcome leftovers.
We noticed a variety of tempting items on the menu, including a starter called Carpaccio al Avocado, with thinly sliced raw beef tenderloin, wild mushrooms, diced tomatoes, capers, olive oil, lemon, shaved Parmigiano and avocado.
Nine-inch pizzas and gluten-free pasta also are on the menu. And the restaurant highlights pages of specialty cocktails, spirits, wines and beer.
If you order your meal before 3 p.m., luncheon portions of dishes are available. The trattoria, a relaxed yet refined setting in which to dine, is open seven days a week, with lunch service available Wednesday through Saturday.
The interior, appealing with a striking stone wall and rich wood, stands ready to fill in admirably when the patio goes into hibernation.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: La Za’Za’ Trattoria
WHERE: 5 S. First St., St. Charles