Italian food is the best. I mean, who doesn't love carbs? Unfortunately, good Italian cuisine can be hard to come by at an affordable price. You can only have so much easy mac without craving a bowl of authentic pasta. Trattoria Demi is the solution.

This quaint restaurant, located just half a mile away from Northwestern's campus, offers a wide variety of Italian dishes at an affordable price range, without sacrificing any of the taste.

Located just half a mile away from the arch, Trattoria Demi is a taste of Italy in the heart of downtown Evanston. Upon entering the restaurant, you feel like you're in the house of an elderly Italian woman. The soft lighting and watercolor paintings hanging on the walls give off a homey vibe. The place is large enough to accommodate for large parties yet small enough to feel intimate and quaint.

Upon entering the restaurant, you're welcomed by the scent of mozzarella, warm candlelight, and watercolor paintings hanging on the wall. Its quaint and relaxed atmosphere, accompanied by eager and helpful waiters, is as inviting as an Italian grandmother's dining room during a wholesome family dinner. On a Saturday evening, my friends and I decided to have some ~wholesome~ family time, and Trattoria Demi definitely offered us that. 

After a week jam-packed of midterms and stress, we were looking for two things: comfort and decadence. Luckily, Trattoria Demi's menu provided both criteria. As we were contemplating what to get, our waiter set down some freshly-baked bread, that was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Slathered with some butter, this was the perfect taste before beginning the bulk of the meal, without getting too full.

Alex Schwartz

After a few minutes of contemplation, we decided to get an appetizer. Sure, we could have ordered the caprese salad - a healthy way to start a meal - but we disregarded our diets for the night and ordered the calamari.

chicken, chili, sauce, squid, calamari, seafood, vegetable, meat, fried calamari
Alex Schwartz

"I'm literally salivating. Alex, hurry up and take the photo!" my friend Danny begged the moment our calamari arrived. The scent of the marinara sauce intermingling with the fried squid was intoxicating, almost a religious experience. The fresh seafood and the lemon danced on my tastebuds to produce a sensational experience. Every single bite was a satisfying snap; no piece was soggy. 

Once we polished off the plate in an impressive two minutes, we had to come to a consensus about which entrees to sample. Alex wanted meatballs; Serena wanted lasagna; Noelle wanted cheese. After some serious deliberation and advice from our trusted waiter, we went for the rigatoni and ricotta, linguini marinara, and lasagna with meat sauce.

cheese, pasta, sauce
Alex Schwartz

Out of all the dishes we ordered, this was the most polarizing. Noelle and Serena claimed that it was "all right," because they thought the noodles were overcooked. However, Danny, Alex, and I absolutely loved that it had more texture. That, with the sharpness of the cheese, juxtaposed by the sauce, meant that the three of us scarfed down the plate unabashedly.

sauce, pasta, spaghetti
Alexis Schwartz

The star of this dish was not the noodles; it was the meatball. The light sauce and al dente noodles served as the base to highlight the hearty, flavorful meatballs that we definitely fought over. Because I sat at the opposite end of the table, I got a measly half.

#SpoonTip: Thankfully, you can order a side of meatballs that you do not have to share, which I highly recommend and will do next time I come here.

"This was my favorite one yet," proclaimed Alex. But, boy, was he wrong.

Alex Schwartz

The uncontested winner of the night was the lasagna. With a serving larger than an adult head, this plate of fresh marinara sauce and bits of savory ground beef were already amazing, but to top it off, the cheese resting atop the noodles elevated the dish to unprecedented heights. It was still gooey and rich, but it was cooked perfectly to allow for toasty and crispy bits to shine through. 

Within ten minutes, only the sauce remained on the plates, and we basically licked the remaining off. "I'm just so happy right now," Serena said. And we all nodded, sat back in our chairs with our food babies, and enjoyed the moment before calling the waiter over for dessert.

Although Trattoria Demi is known for their tiramisu, our waiter recommended that we try the molten chocolate cake a la mode. We were naturally drawn to it because a la mode sounds so fancy and sophisticated. We patiently sat in our seats, trying not to fall asleep from our food coma, for about fifteen minutes before the dish arrived.

strawberry, pudding, sweet, dairy product, mousse, berry, chocolate, cream, mint
Alex Schwartz

Aesthetically speaking, the dish deserved a 10/10. I mean, warm chocolate oozing out, surrounded by a pool of raspberry sauce and vanilla gelato? Nothing sounded better than this.

However, in comparison to the carb-laden taste of heaven we had earlier, this sadly just did not live up to expectations. The cake was too sticky, and the inside could have been more flavorful. The best part were the swirls of raspberry mixed with the rich vanilla gelato, a refreshing contrast to the richness of the meal.

Although there were some inconsistencies, we agreed that this was one of the best dinners we've had, and for a decent price. I don't recommend that you go here every weekend - we spent $75 for 5 people - but certainly it's a manageable expense, especially if you want to treat yourself to something nice. Besides, it's much cheaper to eat here than to pay for a plane ticket to Italy, so give Trattoria Demi a visit to be transported to a molto bene environment.

For the entire month of February, show your waiter your Spoon Crawl coupon and get 20% off entrees at Trattoria Demi.