It's not on the menu, but when you walk into the restaurant they have a huge spread on display of beautiful antipasti components: freshly sliced prosciutto, cheeses, olives, roasted vegetables, breads, and spreads.
This restaurant is a hidden gem among the mostly lame (sad, but true) restaurant scene in the Loop. It's located on the second floor of the JW Marriott hotel, so with no street frontage it stays a bit quieter than your typical downtown restaurant.
I have been here at least a dozen times and the experience is consistently good. It's tucked into a more residential part of River North so the feel is more laidback and neighborhood-y than bustling and touristy.
The atmosphere here is wonderful. It's cozy, rustic, and romantic-- an ideal location for date night. Everything here is intended for sharing, so you get a great opportunity to sample and share a variety of dishes.
Balena is a best of both worlds kind of restaurant. The space is itself is chic yet rustic and the atmosphere is upscale, but not stuffy. The food is a perfect combination of local seasonal ingredients and traditional Italian dishes.