Suburban downtowns vary in size, quality and character. For example, my suburb of Glenview has a rather stagnant downtown, though the village government has high hopes that the new library, which opened this fall, will help bring business in. Most people go over to the Glen instead, which is basically an outdoor shopping center in one of those McMansion-type settlements – new, shiny, upscale, and devoid of uniqueness. Highland Park, on the other hand, has one of the best downtowns in the northern ‘burbs – lots of walkable restaurants and cute boutiques, plus an art-film movie theater to boot.
Northbrook I consider to be somewhere in the middle; it’s nothing fancy, but there are a few culinary highlights, a little store here and there (including WineStyles), an ice cream place, a nice big park and a train station. You can walk to a small but nice variety of restaurants along Shermer Rd., including Little Louie’s Red Hots, Lou Malnati’s, the Landmark Inn and Kamehachi, along with a personal favorite of my family’s, My Pie Pizza.
But when my husband and I are going out for date nights, our favorite local eatery here is a tiny little storefront just north of the railroad tracks, called Trattoria Oliverii. It’s part of a local chain, and it looks quite unassuming from the glass front with the name splashed across (there’s no actual sign). The interior is cozy and rife with what they call Old World charm; in the summer, there are a few tables set up outside on the sidewalk to create patio dining.
Most importantly, the food here is excellent. The bread is crusty and warm, the bruschetta is divine, and Trattoria Oliverii specializes in classic Italian favorites well-cooked and served in hearty, delicious portions. Veal, chicken, pizza, seafood, salads and Italian desserts (tiramisu, cannoli) create a well-rounded menu. My personal default dish here is Scampi Champagne, linguine with shrimp and onion cooked in a creamy Champagne sauce. But I’m often tempted by the specials as well.
There’s no real reason you can’t take your whole family here – we’ve done that, too. But the atmosphere here feels low-key and romantic, making it a pleasant place to take your significant other for a night that won’t break the bank or make you worry about getting back in time for the babysitter. I think of it as the perfect date location for that period in your life when you’re not worried about the game – you’re just looking to relax and spend time with someone you care about in a comfortable place with good food.
Trattoria Oliverii
1358 Shermer Rd., Northbrook
(847) 559-8785