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Permanently Closed - Merlo's

4.2
609 reviews
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$30 and under
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Italian
Top Tags:
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Great for Outdoor Dining

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About

This restaurant is permanently closed. Merlo's is a traditional Italian restaurant, located in the just blocks from Ravinia, in Highland Park.
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
Italian
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Hours of operation

Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 4:00pm - 11:00pm
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Phone number
(847) 266-0600
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Joe Farina
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Greenbay
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Parking details
Private lot-ample street parking
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Public transit
Metra UP-N Ravinia stop
Additional
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Corkage Fee, Delivery, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wine
What 609 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.2based on all time ratings
4.2
food
4.1
service
3.7
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
89% of people would recommend it to a friend
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5.0Dined on January 27, 2018

Great food, busy, a little noisy, good value. This was a Saturday night.

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5.0Dined on January 12, 2018

Dinner was delicious. Maybe best calamari ever! Delicious Arugula salad. Pizza special was incredible. Best thin pizza and toppings. All items were split between two and were generous. We were both stuffed, happy and satisfied. We will be back.

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3.0Dined on January 4, 2018

When I arrived, the hostess was on the phone, barely acknowledged me and went back to her conversation. Eventually she pulled away to say “sit anywhere.” I thought that the meal was very average. I had chicken Marsala, you would think something else would come with the meal... a noodle or a potato ... something. I expected a lot better than what I received for both service and food.

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5.0Dined on January 3, 2018

Love the food, ambiance, employees, location. The servers are really friendly, thoughtful, and low-key.

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5.0Dined on December 31, 2017

This spot is warm and cozy. Great for before Ravinia or movies.

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4.0Dined on December 16, 2017

Good food service not

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5.0Dined on December 16, 2017

This is our go to place for authentic Italian food on Chicago’s north shore. Their marinara sauce is the best I have ever tasted / reminds me of my Italian grandmother’s but even better. I recommend the cheese ravioli, the rigatoni bolognese and nanna’s gravy. I also love the arugula salad !

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5.0Dined on December 9, 2017

Food is consistently tasty and reliable. Nice presentation. Good options on their specials of the day. Excellent service! Friendly staff and management. Very welcoming. Like many places, a bit noisy but acceptable. Cozy atmosphere.

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4.0Dined on December 1, 2017

Food and service was great, but the nice level was too high for us.

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5.0Dined on December 1, 2017

Great service , outstanding dishes , overall a good go to restaurant

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5.0Dined on November 27, 2017

Always great!

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5.0Dined on November 25, 2017

Found Merlo on Open Table and decided to try it due to the ratings. What a fantastic choice. The food and service were totally outstanding. Don’t pass this place up. It is out of this world.

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5.0Dined on November 17, 2017

Best Italian on the north shore. Period. Consistent. The chicken velasco and escarole soup is insane. Meat sauce is tops.

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5.0Dined on November 14, 2017

Had a wonderful dinner there the other night. Our server was very helpful ~ I am vegan ~ and attentive enough but not too much. The food was very enjoyable. I really enjoyed the ambiance; it is warm and relaxing. A wonderful neighborhood destination.

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4.0Dined on November 11, 2017

My Chicken Parmesan was excellent! 2- large Breast which I split with my wife with the House Salad was great! No waiting after my Reservation. Service was excellent.

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5.0Dined on November 4, 2017

Excellent pasta (vodka pasta and spaghetti and meatballs) and service was outstanding! The one thing i would change is to maybe heat/toast the bread that comes to your table with the wonderful tomato sauce. The bread was incredibly fresh but I felt like the sauce needed bread with a crunch. We had a fantastic meal!

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5.0Dined on October 27, 2017

Love this restaurant! John Merlo has done such a great job of bringing old-school Italian to the suburbs- with some great twists. Took a group from out of town last weekend - and everyone LOVED their dishes. Merlo Salad is great. The shrimp pasta special was the show stopper. Kids loved spaghetti and giant meatballs along with cheese ravioli. Cannot go wrong with the salmon (for the healthy). Would have done Nana’s Gravy as that is usually one of our favs, but had pot roast night before. Had to top it off with Tiramisu- which was amazing! Merlo’s is a hidden gem! So happy to have such a great, authentic restaurant just a short drive from our house.

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5.0Dined on October 20, 2017

Great local restaurant. Service: Excellent! Food: Pretty good, great job on main course but bread & base tomato sauce needs work. Love the meatball & salad... pasta dishes, well done! Wine list: Good Bear Selection: Poor ... need some good local craft beer to get my guy to come back more often! Dessert: Good Italian choices but when it comes right out of refrigeration it missed the mark a bit. And, if you want a quiet meal ... go early or late. When this restaurant is busy you cannot hear yourself think!

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5.0Dined on October 17, 2017

Food was very fresh and delicious. Portions were very big enough to share. We ended taking enough home for the next night. Will be definitely back with some friends. The waitress was very helpful with the menu since it was our first time.

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3.0Dined on October 14, 2017

We have been going to Merlo's for several years and enjoyed the food in the past. This time was a big disappointment. My wife's favorite dish, Nana's Gravy, was full of fatty meat and lacked the seasoning in comparison to past visits. I ordered one of the specials--whitefish oreganato, only to be told it had been changed to tilapia instead of whitefish. This was at 6:00. The appetizer of fried artichokes was good and the cannoli was average at best. My wine, a Shiraz, was too warm. A lot of new staff, which is never a good sign. Overall, a big letdown.

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4.0Dined on October 7, 2017

Loved the food. My eggplant parmesan was delicious. The Brussels sprout appetizer and capresi pizza was the best part of our meal. The noise level was very much on the loud side. We would definitely go back.

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5.0Dined on October 6, 2017

Never had a bad meal here. Food and service is always top notch. Can be a bit noisy when Chicago sports teams are playing and the TV is on at the bar.

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5.0Dined on September 30, 2017

Great Italian food and selections. Everyone in our group loved their choice. Also had exceptional service from our waiter Scott. Can't wait to go back.

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5.0Dined on September 28, 2017

We have been to Merlo's with friends often. This time we had friends from CA and we knew this was a place they would love. They enjoyed dinner very much.

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5.0Dined on September 19, 2017

Brussels sprouts awesome. The talapia and sauce on potatoes with sun dried tomatoes was delicious as was the salmon with grilled vegetables... though veggies could have been cooked a bit more. We were celebrating a Happy Birthday and really enjoyed the complimentary tiramisu dessert.

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4.0Dined on September 15, 2017

The host was very rude to us. We asked to be seated outside and he said that there is no way. We said we don't mind waiting and he still said no. Within 20 minutes of seating us the entire outside opened up as well as the inside. It was very rude and inconsiderate. He never checked in with us and was rude throughout the night. We were told later that he is also their wine Rep. Our server was lovely.
I would consider not returning just because of how rude the host was to us.

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5.0Dined on September 8, 2017

Merlo is our go to spot. Love this place. Food always great. Service is outstanding. Definitely recommended.

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4.0Dined on September 3, 2017

This was my second time at this restaurant, came with friends both times. Convenient location especially if you where going to a concert at Ravinia. The food is good, service friendly. Enjoyed very much!

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3.0Dined on September 3, 2017

3 of 4 in our party were dissapointed in the food .
Won't return.

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5.0Dined on September 1, 2017

Very impressed with our waiter and the quality of our food. Artichoke fritters are to die for. Salmon was outstanding

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5.0Dined on August 29, 2017

My wife and I were going to Ravinia for the first time and wanted to find a place to eat nearby. We did a Google search of local restaurants and came across Merlo's. It is a small place located in a very small line of shops. (Too small to call a strip mall.) We live 60 miles away and although we made the drive for the concert, the meal alone was worth the drive. Service was attentive and not at all intrusive. I will admit to having no knowledge of wine but they did have an extensive list and the Cabernet we selected was very good. The meal was fantastic! My wife had the chicken piccata and I had a dish called Nanna's Gravy. (Very tender pot roast over rigatoni. OMG!!!)

You can be sure we will be visiting Merlo's again in the future and not necessarily because we're going to Ravinia!

Thank you Merlo's!!!

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3.0Dined on August 26, 2017

The wait staff appeared to be distracted or overwhelmed. The appetizers were delicious. The skirt steak was tough and the pizza was fair. We always had to ask for water and refills. It was an odd night as we have eaten there many times and it's always been good...but always very loud.

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5.0Dined on August 26, 2017

Really good food, service and atmosphere. Very enjoyable evening.

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4.0Dined on August 26, 2017

We went there before a Ravinia show and Ubered over. It was really good food. Was perfect. They could get a better bread at the beginning though.

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5.0Dined on August 26, 2017

Service was great, first time here and would come back for sure!!

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4.0Dined on August 25, 2017

We had pavilion seats for Ravinia so weren't doing the usual picnic and didn't want to eat in the park. I found Merlo's on Open Table and easily booked a 5:15 reservation day of show.

This is VERY convenient for Ravinia. We parked in the closest shuttle lot for the park which is free and, for us, walking distance to both Merlo's and Ravinia. So, we parked one time in a great spot and didn't think about the car again until we left after the show. Easy peasy.

Walked to the restaurant and we were seated right away outside at a table we chose despite being 5-7 minutes late. Outside seating is streetside but the tables closer to the building are safe from noise and exhaust. It's quiet enough for easy conversation and the tables are comfortably far apart.

Our server was entertaining, but got us what we needed when we needed it. I really liked the service culture here - if your specific server happens to not be right there another will jump in immediately if you need something. They cover for each other and diners don't have to wait for anything.

The wine and beer options are enough to find something you'll like but not so extensive as to be overwhelming. My red wine selection was very enjoyable. I am a big fan of tasting before I buy and they accommodated me nicely (most places do but still in the plus column).

The food was solid. I got the linguini and clams special. I've had better but it was good - big chunks of perfectly cooked garlic in the broth - yum! My wife had the chicken piccata which was delicious. We didn't realize that sides all had to be ordered separately so she had chicken and nothing else. There was so much pasta in my dish that I shared with her and still didn't finish it, so no harm. If we go back I'm definitely getting something with marinara. They bring a dipping bowl of it with your bread and it was to die for.

I was pleasantly surprised at our tab for drinks and dinner.

All in all, a great place for pre-Ravinia dining. Highly recommend.

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3.0Dined on August 19, 2017

Outside is a quiet delight. Food flavors very good and service is fun. Indoors too loud but food is worth it.

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4.0Dined on August 19, 2017

We go to Merlos's often and we order in from Merlo's as well since it is in our neighborhood. We normally love it but this time we did not love it. The food was a little above ok, service was sub-standard and the noise level made it almost impossible to hear only 3 other people.

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5.0Dined on August 18, 2017

Always good every time I go. The owners and staff a wonderful and very friendly. They remember their customers!9

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5.0Dined on August 16, 2017

As usual, very, very good food. Great service.
The night we were there, I felt like the tables were a little close - could overhear other conversations but the Maitre d' did a good job of keeping young families on the other side of the restaurant.
I also think the room cd use some sprucing up. Ambiance basically non existent.
But again, food fabulous!

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