Merlo's

Merlo's

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://merlosrestaurant.com/
  • Phone: (847) 266-0600
  • Hours of Operation:

    Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 4:00pm - 11:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Executive Chef: Joe Farina
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Delivery, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking Area, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wine Bar

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Greenbay
  • Public Transit: Metra UP-N Ravinia stop
  • Parking: Private Lot
  • Parking Details: Private lot-ample street parking
A word from Merlo's
Merlo's is a traditional Italian restaurant, located in the just blocks from Ravinia, in Highland Park.
Continued
Foodspotting photos
See all photos
Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerNeigborhood Gem
  • Diners' Choice WinnerOutdoor Dining
  • Diners' Choice WinnerItalian
Merlo's reviews from OpenTable diners
104 reviews since July 26, 2014
Overall Rating4.1
  • Food4.3
    Service4.1
  • Ambiance3.7
    Noise LevelEnergetic
96% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (81)great for outdoor dining (49)fit for foodies (33)hot spot (16)notable wine list (13)good for groups (13)kid-friendly (12)special occasion (11)vibrant bar scene (10)great for lunch (9)romantic (7)late-night find (2)Show More
  • Great food but noisy
    DandD
    Dined on 11/8/2014
    Had dinner with a guest here before a concert at Ravinia, based upon a previous good experience on their outdoor patio in summer. Food and service were as good as we remembered, but the noise level inside was so high we had trouble carrying on a conversation without yelling. It was a Saturday evening, and the place was packed, with a sizable line waiting to be seated, so we were glad we had a relatively early reservation. Do try the Nanns's Gravy entree, the roasted brussel sprouts appetizer, and the homemade tiramisu!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • AskEv3
    AskEv3
    Dined on 11/6/2014
    Celebrated a Birthday w/my girlfriends, just DELISH !
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Merlo
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 11/1/2014
    Very noisy very cramped but food is good and large portions
    Special Features:
    hot spot, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Tasty, but loud
    melikesushiVIP
    Dined on 11/1/2014
    The food was good overall and I'd return to Merlo's, but the noise level is nothing short of distracting. I'm not old and usually those things don't bother me, but I couldn't stop getting distracted and frustrated by having to shout to be heard even though we were at a small table. I was straining to hear the friends we were out with and it actually detracted from my experience.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Saturday night
    Jojo
    Dined on 11/1/2014
    First time at Merlo's and thought it was great - food was excellent and we loved the meatball salad. It was noisy but then it was Saturday night. We had excellent service and will be returning soon.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food/service
    KarenVIP
    Dined on 10/22/2014
    Everything was wonderful of the restaurant except there is limited ability to talk to your table mates. The noise level is ridiculous and then they pipe in music in addition. If you don't care about talking and you like to yell it's perfect
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delicious neighborhood gem
    SaturdayNiteDiner
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    Lively, good service, great food. One appetizer arrived but didn't taste right. They offered to make again but we decided to pass. They removed from bill. Definitely going back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    Loved the sausage and escarole....Waiter was friendly and efficient. Noise level pretty high but luckily we were in a corner.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food loud place
    Liw804
    Dined on 10/11/2014
    The food is amazing. If you don't mind screaming to your friends while eating it's worth it. The price is right! Just a very loud energetic atmosphere.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delicious but loud
    Ktchnqn
    Dined on 10/11/2014
    Arrived around 7:30 and were seated right away, with our reservation. Ordered our favorite appetizer of Roasted Brussel Sprouts, which were delicious. Portions are quite large here, so sharing is a good thing! We then ordered Eggplant Parmigiana and Skirt Steak with Burnt Onions. Again both delicious, but sauce which accompanied steak had no real flavor. Service the night we went was a little slow, and the waitress only checked on us once.Still, I would reccomend this restaurant.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Unbearable noise level
    lovetoeat2VIP
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    I had heard the restaurant was very very noisy, but didn't expect it to be where you couldn't talk without almost screaming. We go to many energetic eateries and know that it adds to the ambience, but this was so beyond that. We had asked for a corner table because of what friends had told us, but it didn't seem to help. It is a shame because the their food is very good and love the fact that it is a local restaurant. Since I am hearing the same comments from everyone we talk to, they should think of adding some soundproofing to the space to bring the noise level down. I'm afraid that people will get tired of this problem, and we might lose a very nice restaurant.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Not Your Typical Italian Food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    The specials are always interesting and unusual. The cauliflower with cheese appetizer was excellent as was the Spaghetti Genovese. The sauce was outstanding with just the right mix of sausage and sliced garlic. The Chicken Parm. was as usual very good. The portions are generous and usually sufficient for another meal. The patio is heated and allows for for a nice fall dining experience.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Excellent meal, large portions
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    Everything was excellent; eggplant and veal Parmesan, Brussels sprouts, pot roast pasta, and arugula salad. The service is friendly with a nice pace. I would highly recommend this restaurant.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Anne
    Anne
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    We've dined here several times and have never been disappointed! The high level of quality food, wine & service keeps us coming back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    All the entrees were very good including the Brick Chicken and Nannys Gravy
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good Food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 9/18/2014
    This was our second time, with in a 2 week period. The food was delicious. The atmosphere was too loud. We went with another couple, and we had difficulty hearing each other. The service was slow. We had to ask to finally order a drink. We will try it again, but mid week. Our Thursday night experience was not as pleasant as Wednesday.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Enjoyable
    The4ofUs
    Dined on 9/18/2014
    We dined outdoors comfortably on a chilly evening thanks to Merlo's wonderful heated patio. The staff was friendly and accommodating and the service was very good. We all enjoyed the delicious red sauce that accompanied the basket of bread brought to our table. We ordered the Chicken Marsala, Eggplant Parmesan and a perch special. No dish was a stand-out, but all in all, our dinner at Merlo's was an enjoyable, relaxing experience and we plan to return to try it again.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Great menu and food. Poor service.
    EllenT1VIP
    Dined on 9/17/2014
    This is the third time I have dined at Merlo. Every time the service has been bad but this time it was especially bad. I have gone back because the choices on the menu are vast, with some of my favorite Italian choices and the food has been consistently good. I can deal with slow service in general. However this time we had a party of 5 and both the starters and entrees came out in waves with large gaps. One person got their salad with the other three items coming many minutes later. Four of us got our entrees while the fifth came many minutes later. The party of five next to us was served faster even though they came later. The waiter rarely checked on whether we wanted more to drink. If you have time and patience the food is good.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • TERRY
    Dined on 9/14/2014
    Always good and dependable-Extremely attentive staff and ownership
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great food, service, but loud!
    shelly
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    It was perfect place to eat before Ravinia. 1/2 block from shuttle and delicious food. Only negative that was difficult was it was so loud it was hard to have a conversation with our friends(there were 4 of us). Not that I wouldnt go back but probably at a less busy time.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Merlo's food and service great!
    Skay
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    But the noise level inside is ridiculous. Recommend some acoustic tiles or something!
    Special Features:
    hot spot, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful Dinner
    Michael
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    I enjoyed a delicious dinner with three friends, two of whom had never been to Merlo's. The food was delicious, from the simply prepared Salmon, to the pasta with Bolognese, Pasta Romano, and the Chicken Parmesan. Everyone enjoyed the Brussels sprouts appetizer - even one who had never liked Brussel's sprouts before tasting these! The wait staff was attentive and friendly. Our dinner was the night after a big storm blew through the Northern suburbs, and though their computer system was down (i.e., they were unable to pull up reservations or accept credit cards), the staff kept cool heads, and made the diners feel welcome and at ease. I definitely will return again.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Lively Place - Comfort Italian Food
    razzledazzleVIP
    Dined on 8/29/2014
    The restaurant was not very impressive from the outside, but the inside was warm and inviting. We shared the signature salad, Italian sausage plate and the Nanna's Gravy, which was especially tasty. Portions were generous, and we left feeling more than satisfied. It's quite noisy but fun. We would probably return again if we were in the area.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Merlo's - Great Place for Dinner
    SLR9
    Dined on 8/29/2014
    We found Merlo's online while checking out dining close to the Ravinia Festival. Parked our car, walked 1/2 block to Merlo's. The outdoor dining area was very lovely, little fountain, great looking patio area. Very impressed with the attention given by staff, not just our server. The Stuffed Cheese Ravioli/Chicken Parmesan were very good, more than adequate in portion size. The salad our friends tried was chopped and had tiny square pieces of beet, they loved it!! We arrived at 4pm, the place was empty. We sat outside as several others arrived, and was plenty of room on the patio. The whole experience was a "10" and would highly recommend Merlo's for dining close to Ravinia Park.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Unexpected pleasure
    BeckyMVIP
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    Dined at this restaurant due to its close proximity to Ravinia. Did not expect that it would be such a fabulous experience. The service was excellent and the food was very good. I would dine here again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Favorite Italian Spot
    gtojonVIP
    Dined on 8/24/2014
    Another excellent experience here, been returning to Merlos more than ever. Brought out of town guests this time, they were floored. Going through the menu, we have never had one clinker, large portions served hot, and fresh. Nannas Gravy, a house specialty is a staple that is so good, it is hard not to order it. All the meat dishes are very tasty and prepared perfect, you will bring some home because they are generous. The smaller size room combined with the bar makes a nice place to sit and enjoy. The staff allows you to relax, and there is no feeling of being pushed out to turn the table. Go here, and you will be back!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Pre-Ravinia Dining
    kctomsheckVIP
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    Good basic Italian food. I recommend Nana's gravy. Service was excellent considering how busy they get on a Sat evening. Don't let the strip mall location scare you away. This place is walking distance to Ravinia. Free parking is nearby.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • great food
    easytopleaseVIP
    Dined on 8/14/2014
    large portions. great food. way too loud. very nice servers. good parking
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Lind
    Dined on 8/12/2014
    We love the food. The noise level is almost unbearable. It makes us not want to dine there.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Doesn't disappoint
    AmyPVIP
    Dined on 8/5/2014
    This was my fourth visit to Merlo- I really enjoyed eating outside because it was so nice and quiet; as with most small restaurants- much noisier inside We were celebrating a special birthday and the waitress brought a delicious and very large piece of tiramasu- and she did not charge us; incredibly generous for the restaurant The brussell sprouts as appetizer were once again outstanding Two of us couldn't decide which wine to order- our server suggested a red that we loved (both of us pretty unsophisticated in our tastes) so really nice to have the help Egg plant parmesan delicious as before; wide variety of specials Great food at reasonable prices; service great- couldn't ask for more
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great food
    foodie456VIP
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    Best marinara sauce I have ever had, Brussel sprouts are amazing!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2005
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    exceptionally loud------requested an outside table and did arrive on time---------they looked at us like requests and reservations didn't matter Liked this restaurant for lunch---went there many times----but would never go back at any time based on our treatment Saturday night It's too bad as their food is delicious
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Terrific Wait Staff!
    Michael
    Dined on 7/31/2014
    The group of 5 got together for dinner, and we each enjoyed our meals. Three of us never had been to Merlo's before, but everyone was eager to return. We enjoyed our appetizers and main dishes ranging from pasta to fish to filet. The wait staff was particularly friendly and warm, making our dining experience just that much more enjoyable! Thanks for a terrific dinner!
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 71 ratings-only reviews submitted since July 26, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.1
    • Food4.3
    • Ambiance3.8
    • Service4.1
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • The following 311 reviews are from the Merlo's reviews archive.
  • Merlos-Left Disappointed & Thirsty
    EatDrinkBeMerry
    Dined on 7/21/2014
    It was my 1st time using Open Table.The ease of using O.T and the anticipation of dining at Merlos based on other O.T user reviews was the highlight of the dining experience.The moment we walked into the establishment it went downhill fast. Based on users reviews we expected a lively and perhaps noisy crowd. Imagine our surprise when we were the only patrons in the restaurant.The reservations we were so stoked to get became laughable.Our waiter was incredibly rude,the food was average at best. The worst part was that the alcohol selection was bad! Had hoped to have some good food & cocktails before heading to Ravinia.Good thing there is a bar across the street. 2 people, $100 bill, 2 star food = disappointment. I wanted to love u Merlos :(
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Evening out with friends
    csas
    Dined on 7/19/2014
    The food was good, but very basic. While the restaurant was only half full we were still seated at the table right by the kitchen. That was unfortunate. Our waitress was very nice and accommodating. Overall a nice evening but nothing noteworthy.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delicious food
    Shels35VIP
    Dined on 7/19/2014
    This was our first time here. We had a 5:30 reservation and got seated immediately. . We chose to sit outside as it was very noisey inside. Our waiter asked if we were going to Ravinia and suggested we place our appetizer and entree at the same time . That was an excellent suggestion as we had plenty of time to eat and walk to Ravinia. We will definitely be going back
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Auntimame1VIP
    Dined on 7/17/2014
    Great food, always, menu has changes which is good, when you often frequent this establishment.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Ravinia Dining
    Fred
    Dined on 7/17/2014
    Very good Italian bistro, good service, easy parking and convenient walk or shuttle to Ravinia. Try the Brussels Sprouts appetizer; it is unique and tasty even for those who don't like Brussel Sprouts!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Comfortable (except for noise)
    JPCDVIP
    Dined on 7/16/2014
    Good, comfortable food; good comfortable service; friendly and accommodating management. But for the noise, would get a 4 for ambiance and there's no noise when the outdoor is open.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Not as good as last year
    DMGMDVIP
    Dined on 7/9/2014
    Have been away for a while. Recently returned to Merlo's for dinner. We felt the meal was mediocre at best. The brick chicken was not good; salmon was okay. Next time, maybe we will stick with the pastas.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic