Bar Forza, a newish spot in Lincoln Park, has one of the strangest atmospheres I’ve ever encountered: at first glance, with its flat-screen TVs and high tables, it looks like a sports bar. But then there are chandeliers and candles on the tables, and an extensive menu of Italian food. But then there are waitresses wearing supershort Bulls jersey dresses and high heels. It’s all very confusing.
Regardless of its identity crisis, however, Forza takes its food seriously. I ordered arancini despite the fact that the specimens I’ve tried before have been leaden, bland spheres that I’ve never had the least inclination to finish, and was pleasantly surprised. The saffron rice balls, filled with fontina and served with a San Marzano tomato dipping sauce, were extremely light, with a crispy exterior and a melty interior. At the end of our meal, one of the owners—charming in a lilac-striped shirt and matching tie—came over to inquire earnestly about whether we’d enjoyed our food; he appeared concerned that we hadn’t made much of a dent in the football-size plate of bucatini alla carbonara that followed the arancini and a Caesar salad. While the pasta was perfectly respectable, I’d filled up on arancini.