2 Chicago-Area Restaurants Named Among Best for Outdoor Dining in US in New Ranking

Chicago's Piccolo Sogno and Aurora's Hardware Restaurant made the cut

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With summer in Chicago in full swing, outdoor dining options are some of the most sought after and two Chicago-area restaurants have been named among the best in the U.S. for dining al fresco.

OpenTable on Monday released its list of the 100 best restaurants for outdoor dining, based on reviews from 13.6 million diners. The ranking looked at reviews on views, cuisine and "an incredible outdoor dining experience."

Chicago's Piccolo Sogno and Aurora's Hardware Restaurant made the cut.

Hardware, located in North Aurora, is a "sustainable gastropub and brewery, complete with greenhouse and organic hop farm," according to OpenTable.

Meanwhile, Piccolo Sogno, which translates to "little dream," offers "regional Italian cuisine featuring a combination of local and Italian ingredients."

“The restaurant fits our personal goal to get to the heart of Italian wine and food,” executive chef Tony Priolo said in a statement. “You go to Italy for simple food, prepared by hand with local ingredients and served with local wines. That’s why people love eating in Italy, and we wanted to bring that experience to Chicago.”

OpenTable said its ranking included restaurants from a total of 25 states.

"The list identifies restaurants coast-to-coast with great views, delicious cuisine and above all, an incredible outdoor dining experience," the company stated.

Chicago was among cities that saw the biggest rush for outdoor dining reservations between May and June, according to the reservation app, with requests spiking by 49%. That's compared to Boston's 37%, Portland's 31% and even New York's 15%. The only city to see an even bigger spike was Pittsburgh, at 53%. OpenTable noted that cities with cooler climates saw the biggest spike in searches at that time.

“Outdoor dining played a major role in buoying the restaurant industry over the last few years, and restaurants took note – whether adding, expanding or elevating their offerings,” Susan Lee, chief growth officer for OpenTable said in a statement. “Offering outdoor dining is now a key part of restaurants’ business, and we’re happy to see that diners continue to embrace it.”

In Chicago, pandemic woes sparked street closures to allow restaurants added outdoor dining space. Festivals geared toward outdoor seating and expanded tents for outdoor dining flooded city streets at the time, a scene that continues even now for many locations.

In addition to outdoor patios, the city also boasts a number of rooftop dining options. For a guide to some of Chicago's many rooftop restaurants, click here.

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