Leona’s – Mediocre Dining at it’s Finest

20 Oct

Chicago is a city known for it’s Italian restaurants. Leona’s on Sheffield in Lakeview is one of these and has been a landmark for many years now. I feel like this landmark has seen better days.

Several months back I bought a Groupon for Leona’s and we used it last week. And I’ve been here a couple times before with different friends. I considered Leona’s a pretty good place – I think they have always been known for having more ‘standard’ Italian items – lasagna, spaghetti and pizza.

Grazing in The City - Chicago - Leona's Restaurant

Leona's Restaurant

The food itself was great – in fact, I got the catfish wrap because it sounded a little different from the usual pasta or pizza, and it was great. Also, lasagna was a choice as one of my sides – so, even though I didn’t want to carb up initially, of course I relented and got the lasagna. Because I think when lasagna is offered as a side, I automatically feel compelled to take advantage of that.

Grazing in The City - Chicago - Leona's Restaurant - Fried Calamari

Mediocre Fried Calamari

And in keeping with the seafood theme, I also ordered the calamari to start with. Cause you know it’s one of my favorite things and I always like to get it at every restaurant to compare. Perhaps I should write a post about which restaurant serves the best calamari?? Regardless, the calamari at Leona’s was ok. Not bad, but certainly not anything notable. It was overcooked just enough to be rubbery, but I’ve had worse.

Grazing in The City - Chicago - Leona's Restaurant

Catfish Wrap and Lasagna

Grazing in The City - Chicago - Leona's Restaurant - Lasagna

What a Side Dish!

However, the catfish in my wrap was great – not overcooked or dry. And the wrap was stuffed with veggies and it was pretty huge too.  So, even though a catfish wrap and lasagna might be an odd combo – it ended up being a lot of food.

Grazing in The City - Chicago - Leona's Restaurant - Catfish Wrap

Catfish Wrap

A large part of my disappointment with Leona’s comes from the service we received. I’m basing my experience on the Lakeview location only. Our server could not have cared less about us and it clearly showed. I don’t know if it was because we were using a Groupon – although I don’t know what that would have to do with anything. But we had to ask for everything and she just wasn’t around. We noticed other one of the other three occupied tables getting bread without asking – we had to ask for it. And drink refills. And we waited and waited for our food to actually arrive. And then nothing from the table was cleared. When we asked for a to-go box – yep, another long-ass wait.

And here’s my real rant: yes, it was a lot of food (average though it was), but the price point still seemed high. And, after reviewing a take-out menu I have from earlier this year, their prices have increased – a LOT. Plus, given the 10.25% sales tax here in Chicago boosting the bill up even more – I’m sorry, but I just can’t abide by crappy service. I worked as a server all through college – I worked my ass off and it’s part of what makes me love food and appreciate eating at different restaurants now. So I think sometimes I’m just too critical . . . but I also know good service and bad service – and our server clearly didn’t want to be there and it reflected in the way she treated us. Made for a frustrating experience.

Leona’s might have been a popular hot-spot back in the day, but now they seem uninspired and overpriced. Mediocre food plus trifling service equals lack of incentive for my repeat business.

Required Info:

  • Name – Leona’s
  • Neighborhood – Lakeview
  • Where – 3215 N. Sheffield
  • Phone – (773) 327-8861
  • Meals – Lunch and Dinner
  • Hours – Monday – Thursday, Sunday – 11:30 am – 11:00 pm Friday – Saturday 11:30 am – 12:30 am
  • Attire – Family Casual
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