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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, February 8

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Review Wed Sep 10 2008

Review: Kayla's Ristorante

Rigatoni with sausage, mozzThe building at the corner of Diversey and Rockwell has housed a few short-lived restaurants. The location is easy to overlook, as it's close to a noisy, litter-strewn I-90 overpass and also on a street that is frequently jammed with traffic. While it's not pictured as the perfect spot for a quiet meal, Kayla's Ristorante, the building's current tenant, provides what I was looking for in a mid-week dinner: dimmed lighting and decently priced Italian food.

House salad I found the interior to be bland, with its hardwood floors, simple white tablecloths and predictable framed vintage posters of Italian wine advertisements hanging on the wall (Target sells them now, only adding to their antiseptic presence). The background music selection of Italian crooners (Martin, Sinatra) did little to distinguish the atmosphere of the restaurant, making me realize more and more that the music in a restaurant really matters. There's no danger in playing something funky and unexpected; the last Italian place I visited was playing Kruder and Dorfmeister as I scarfed down a tasty plate of fettuccine, so I found that having to hear another Chairman of the Board compilation in the background at Kayla's to be a real downer.

Pizza w/artichoke hearts, red onion and eggplantDespite that, come fly with me as we review the menu: pizzas, salads, pasta, and a few higher-priced specialty dishes (pork chops, steak, chicken, and tilapia). A few tables were filled with customers, even though the evening dinner rush was just beginning (Kayla's Yelp profile already promises the restaurant's standing as a popular neighborhood place). My friend CP and I both ordered house salads as a starter; CP ordered a pizza with artichoke and eggplant, and I ordered the Rigatoni di Bari (rigatoni with a red sauce laced with slices of Italian sausage and topped with mozzarella) for our entrees. The house salad was quite filling and dressed with sweet balsamic vinaigrette. Our entrees were also pretty good. I found a bite of CP's pizza to be better than my rigatoni. The crust was buttery, crispy and light, which I thought helped along the chunks of vegetables and tomato sauce that topped it; my rigatoni was certainly flavorful, but I'll probably check out a pizza the next time I visit. Another nice part of the meal was the ending, when chilled martini glasses containing scoops of raspberry sorbet and coffee gelato came out as part of the meal; as a dessert fiend, I was happy to have the guesswork taken out. Our meal came out to around $20 per person with tax and tip. Kayla's is currently BYOB.

Coffee gelatoKayla's has a solid future in being a local go-to restaurant for those who want solid Italian fare. While the menu is limited in size and content, Kayla's has surprisingly good dishes and deserves future visits.

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JK / February 8, 2009 1:45 PM

.. disappointement.
I'm a patient man, I assure you.
But not patient enough to sit there for almost 90 minutes for a meal I could've consulted Pasta-Roni about in less than 15 minutes.
The service is non-existent, the floor manager is comical, and i'm still not too sure of who my waiter actually was.
I will not return here.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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