Nearby points of interest

  1. Distance: 0.15mi
  2. Distance: 0.40mi
  3. Distance: 0.50mi
  4. Distance: 0.63mi
  1. Distance: 0.15mi
  2. Distance: 0.40mi
  3. Distance: 0.50mi
  4. Distance: 0.63mi

Nearby points of interest

  1. Distance: 0.15mi
  2. Distance: 0.40mi
  3. Distance: 0.50mi
  4. Distance: 0.63mi
  1. Distance: 0.15mi
  2. Distance: 0.40mi
  3. Distance: 0.50mi
  4. Distance: 0.63mi

About Merlo's

Merlo's is a traditional Italian restaurant, located in the just blocks from Ravinia, in Highland Park.

581 Roger Williams Ave
Highland Park, IL 60035
View Larger Map

Dining Style:
Casual Elegant

Cuisines:
Italian

Hours of Operation:

Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 4:00pm - 11:00pm

Cross Street:
Greenbay

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(847) 266-0600

Website:
http://merlosrestaurant.com/

Parking Details:
Private lot-ample street parking

Public Transit:
Metra UP-N Ravinia stop

Executive Chef:
Joe Farina

Additional:
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

5
4
3
2
1

4.4

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.4

service

4.3

ambience

4.1

value

4.1

Noise

Moderate

91% would recommend it to a friend

Neighborhood Gem (19)
Casual (17)
Great for Outdoor Dining (16)
See All
Comfort Food (11)
Good for a Date (10)
Authentic (10)
Bar Seating (8)
Pre/post Theatre (8)
Good for Groups (6)
Cozy (6)
Fun (5)
Good for Birthdays (5)
Notable Wine List (4)
People Watching (4)
Worth the Drive (4)
Good for Anniversaries (3)
Business Meals (2)
Creative Cuisine (2)
Fit for Foodies (2)
Hot Spot (2)
Great for Lunch (2)
Quiet Conversation (2)
Special Occasion (2)
Tasting Menu (2)
Good Vegetarian Options (2)
Vibrant Bar Scene (2)
Kid-friendly (1)
Handcrafted Cocktails (1)
Happy Hour (1)
Healthy (1)
Romantic (1)
Seasonal (1)
Spicy (1)
Vegan (1)
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596 reviews
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 (Chicago)·Dined 3 days ago

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.

Tags: Happy Hour, Good Vegetarian Options, Spicy, Special Occasion, Neighborhood Gem, Vegan
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined 6 days ago

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.

Tags: Pre/post Theatre, Comfort Food, Authentic, Tasting Menu
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food4
ambience4
service5
value4

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined 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!

Tags: Good for a Date, Good for Birthdays, Quiet Conversation, Neighborhood Gem
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Chicago)·Dined 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.

Tags: Worth the Drive, Authentic, Neighborhood Gem, Comfort Food
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service4
value5

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on October 21, 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!

Tags: Fun, Vibrant Bar Scene, Good for Groups, Neighborhood Gem, Casual, Comfort Food, Bar Seating
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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

 
·Dined 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.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining, Notable Wine List, Casual, Good for Groups
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined 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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food3
ambience3
service4
value3

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on October 8, 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.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good Vegetarian Options, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience4
service4
value4

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on October 7, 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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food5
ambience3
service5
value3

vip
 (Naples)·Dined on October 1, 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.

Tags: Worth the Drive
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Chicago)·Dined 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.

Tags: Good for a Date
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on September 20, 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.

Tags: Neighborhood Gem
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on September 16, 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.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience3
service3

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on September 9, 2017

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

Tags: Fun, Comfort Food, Good for Anniversaries, Cozy, Good for Birthdays, Good for Groups, Authentic, Good for a Date, Great for Outdoor Dining
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined 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!

Tags: Authentic, Good for Groups, Cozy, Casual, Neighborhood Gem, Good for a Date
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food4
ambience4
service4
value3

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on September 3, 2017

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

Tags: Casual
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food2
ambience3
service2
value1

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on September 1, 2017

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

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Casual, Cozy, Great for Outdoor Dining
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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined 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!!!

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining, Bar Seating, Neighborhood Gem, Creative Cuisine, Worth the Drive, People Watching, Notable Wine List
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined 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.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience2
service2
value2

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on August 26, 2017

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

Tags: Handcrafted Cocktails, Good for Groups, Bar Seating, Worth the Drive, Special Occasion, Great for Outdoor Dining, Fit for Foodies, People Watching, Comfort Food
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined 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.

Tags: Comfort Food
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience4
service3
value4

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on August 26, 2017

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

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined 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.

Tags: Cozy, Comfort Food, Neighborhood Gem, Quiet Conversation, Pre/post Theatre, Great for Outdoor Dining, People Watching, Casual, Good for a Date
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food4
ambience4
service4
value5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on August 20, 2017

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

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Great for Outdoor Dining
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food4
ambience3
service4
value3

 
 (Chicago)·Dined 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.

Tags: Casual, Good for Birthdays, Good for Anniversaries
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food4
ambience4
service3
value3

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on August 19, 2017

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

Tags: Romantic, Authentic
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined 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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food5
ambience3
service5
value4

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on August 16, 2017

We seriously go for the brussels sprouts and stay for the rest. :-) The food was amazing, and the atmosphere, when eating outside, was great. Extremely generous portions--definitely went home with leftovers.

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food5
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on August 12, 2017

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.

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Authentic, Casual
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food5
ambience3
service5
value4

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on August 6, 2017

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.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Minneapolis)·Dined on August 1, 2017

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!

Tags: Good for a Date, Casual, Pre/post Theatre, Great for Outdoor Dining
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food3
ambience3
service5
value3

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on August 1, 2017

Food was delicious, especially the Brussel sprouts!

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food5
ambience5
service5

vip
 (London)·Dined on July 30, 2017

Our service was great, but the food was below average. The bread was cold, the cheese tasted old in the ravioli and the caprese salad and the caramel cake had a funky smell to it, like freezer burn. Needless to say, we will not be going again.

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food2
ambience5
service5
value2

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on July 29, 2017

One of my favorites. Never disappointed here! Patio is perfect for summer!

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining, Tasting Menu, Authentic, Notable Wine List, Kid-friendly
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Birmingham)·Dined on July 28, 2017

The food and service was very good. However, I don't like to pay a la carte. The prices were high.

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food4
ambience3
service4
value4

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on July 25, 2017

Food was good but it's pricey since I was last there (it had lousy service at that time). Service this time was very good. There were 6 of us and most took food home.

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food3
ambience3
service4

 
 (San Diego)·Dined on July 20, 2017

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!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Pre/post Theatre, Notable Wine List, Good for Groups, Good for Anniversaries, Special Occasion, Disabled Access, Creative Cuisine, Local Ingredients, Cozy, Neighborhood Gem, Authentic, Fun, Casual
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on July 15, 2017

We sat outside on a nice night so that was lovely, service was great and portions are generous. Food was just mediocre. Didn't taste bad, just had almost no taste at all.

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food3
ambience4
service5
value2

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on July 12, 2017

Food is great but restroom area is run down and dirty. The people I was with were turned off by this and said they wouldn't return.

Tags: Good for Birthdays, Pre/post Theatre, Special Occasion, Great for Outdoor Dining
1 person found this review helpful.
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience3
service5
value4

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on July 10, 2017

From start to finish our family had a wonderful meal & birthday celebration.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

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