Cameron Grant and Aldo Zaninotto made waves in Chicago in 2014 when they opened Osteria Langhe, their much-loved Piedmontese restaurant. The pair recently followed that restaurant with a more casual version called Animale, also in the Logan Square neighborhood. Grant is the chef who cooked in Piemonte for three years. Zaniotto is a veteran restaurateur (he owned the original Carlucci) who loves Piemonte wine. They say Animale is inspired by the characteristics of an animal, one that feeds itself to survive. There certainly are elements of Animale that are wild, not the least of which is a system that requires customers to order a high level of Piedmonte specialties at a counter. Also wild is a segment of the menu that offers several terrific examples of offal. The restaurant was designed to evoke a forest-like atmosphere. Take a look inside.
Cameron Grant (left) and Aldo Zaninotto are the co-owners of Animale.
Murals along Animale’s exterior point to something interesting inside.
Animale may be one of the freshest fast-casual concepts to come along in years. Customers step up to the counter and place orders, then take a seat.
Animale’s sophisticated menu is complimented by a beverage program that includes wine, beer and cocktails.
A good start is this ravioli called Plin, which features house pancetta and arugula.
Another pasta starter is pappardelle with Wagyu beef cheeks, roasted carrots and Dijon bread crumbs.
A third pasta offering is gnocchi with poultry, grape tomatoes and Fontina.
A quick way to sate an appetite is with arancini, fried saffron-gorgonzola risotto balls with pink peppercorn basil cream.
Animale has several delightful sandwiches, including the Caprese, which includes poultry, crispy fresh mozzarella, spicy basil salsa verde and tomato fonduta dip.
Another standout sandwich is Verdure, which features chickpea and quinoa farinata (a thin cake), mushrooms, goat cheese cream and bitter greens.
Have you ever seen a fast-casual joint that offers nontraditional animal parts? Neither have we. This dish, Fegato, includes rabbit livers, thyme, mushrooms, Madeira and toast.
Another offal offering is called Animelle, which wraps sweet breads in bacon with spicy Belgian endive leaves and mustard honey.
A dish called Sanguinaccio showcases blood sausage in puff pastry with citrus cream and lentils.
Trippa consists of tripe, pancetta and jalapeno green chile with a sunny egg.
How about Wagyu beef tongue with puttanesca ragu and garlic crostini?
Ferocious Puppies includes fries, pancetta, peppered onions, Calabrian chiles, arugula, Fontina and a fried egg.