Merlo's is a traditional Italian restaurant, located in the just blocks from Ravinia, in Highland Park.
Highland Park, IL 60035
Hours of Operation:
Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 4:00pm - 11:00pm
$30 and under
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Private lot-ample street parking
Metra UP-N Ravinia stop
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Corkage Fee, Delivery, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wine
Merlo's Ratings and Reviews
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
The service was excellent, and we loved our waiter. The food we ordered was also very good, but with all the great bakeries in the area, they should have excellent, crusty Italian bread. Unfortunately, the bread was more like Wonder Bread Italian bread. I know you can fix this problem easily, Merlo's! Also,the noise level was bad. Nevertheless, an enjoyable experience.
Professional & gracious service in a lovely setting.The side order of meatballs, the tilapia, rigatoni bolognese, the chicken Milanese, and the cannoli were all delicious! The outdoor seating was refreshing and cozy. Everyone in our group loved it! It is my new favorite Highland Park restaurant.
Our service was awesome and the entree portions were huge! We sat on the charming outdoor patio. The meal was fine. But nothing extraordinary. We enjoyed our dinner before seeing CSO at Ravinia. Probably won't go back to this restaurant next time we're in Chicago. It really wasn't bad; it's just that there are so many great alternatives!
Haven't been here since the place changed its name from Blackbird to Merlo's but was so pleasantly surprised to find an equally fabulous menu! We will return again, as soon as possible, and encourage our friends to do the same. The Veal Milanese was the best I've ever had, outside of Italy, and prepared in an authentic northern Italian way. Salads were fabulous, a nice variety and with plentiful servings. Prices were moderate, and drinks were generous. Now all they have to do is repair the damaged floor boards leading to and outside the restrooms: this uneven flooring is a bad accident waiting to happen!
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