Interior Designer Donna Mondi Shares Her Chicago Secrets

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Donna Mondi is the owner and principal of one of Chicago’s busiest design firms, Donna Mondi Interior Design; she’s one half of one of the city’s ultimate power couples (husband Dominick Mondi was named president of Mesirow Financial earlier this year); and she’s a lifelong Chicagoan. Who better to share a haute list of the best the city has to offer?

Where were you born: Evanston, IL

How long in Chicago: My whole life but mainly in the western suburbs.  I moved downtown two years ago and will never go back!  I’m a city girl! 

Neighborhood: East Lake Shore Drive Historic District (most think it’s the Gold Coast)

Occupation: President of Donna Mondi Interior Design

Favorite Restaurant: Bavette’s 

Best Sushi: Sunda

Best Italian: Nico Osteria

Best dessert: Blue Door Kitchen’s Hummingbird Cake…bring a friend or you’ll regret eating the whole thing. 

Best place for a romantic date:  Anywhere we haven’t been before.  We know so many people in the restaurant industry that privacy is hard to come by! 

Best Sunday brunch:  I’m not a typical go-up-and-get-your-omelette type of girl so I prefer the brunch menu at Pierrot Gourmet in the Peninsula Hotel. 

Best place for a power business meeting:  RL or my studio in West Town

If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend?  I’m torn between the Four Seasons and The Waldorf.  I’m nostalgic about both for different reasons.  We’re in and out of the Four Seasons on a daily basis but we got married recently at The Waldorf and I’m a sucker for European glamour! 

Favorite shopping venue/boutique:  Oak Street…all of it :)

Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches:  Tie between Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels.  There’s no wrong answer here.

Best Spa:  The Langham

Favorite Charity Event:  The Service Club’s Hat Luncheon is beyond entertaining!  It’s like Derby on steroids. 

Favorite Cultural Event:  I will go to the ends of the earth to avoid masses, so this one is tough for me.  I love going to the theater when there’s a hot new show in town.

Favorite Cultural Institution:  I love any of the historic theaters.  They’re old-school glamour is so enchanting! 

Best Steakhouse:  RPM Steak

Best Pizza: I don’t eat pizza anymore!

Best Lunch:  Healthy choice:  True Food Kitchen 

Best Gym/Athletic Facility:  Equinox Gold Coast and Exhale Yoga Studio

Best Massage:  The Four Seasons

Best Limousine/Driving Service:  Mostly I use Uber Black but when I do schedule ahead I call Amms Limo

Best Museum/Exhibit:  I have to break the rules here and take this out of Chicago…I recently visited the Met in New York and absolutely loved the Comme des Garçon exhibit. 

Describe your city in three words:  Vibrant, edgy, diverse

Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore:  It’s not exactly a place, but the Chicago Architectural Foundation’s river boat tour is fantastic!  History, architecture, cruising, and cocktails all in 75 minutes.   

All-around favorite spot in Chicago:  The lakefront.  It’s the view I wake up to every morning and the path that I run on every weekend.  Every day it’s different.  It’s so alive, energetic, and restorative. 

Best Aspect of Chicago:  Chicago is the perfect blending of big-city lifestyle with mid-western values.  We have an edginess and drive that certainly comes through on the streets but deep down we are a generous and kind city. 

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