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Checking Accanto

Goodbye, Riyadh; Hello, Logan Square
Here’s how we came to know about Accanto (2171 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-227-2727). First, we got a tip that half of Lucky Vito’s Pizzeria(2171 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-292-0101) had been carved out for a higher-end Italian restaurant that opened two weeks ago. Then we looked at the menu and raised an eyebrow (or two) at the high prices for Logan Square—$12 to $20 for appetizers and $25 to $30 for main courses…

Goodbye, Riyadh; Hello, Logan Square

Here’s how we came to know about Accanto (2171 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-227-2727). First, we got a tip that half of Lucky Vito’s Pizzeria (2171 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-292-0101) had been carved out for a higher-end Italian restaurant that opened two weeks ago. Then we looked at the menu and raised an eyebrow (or two) at the high prices for Logan Square—$12 to $20 for appetizers and $25 to $30 for main courses. Next, we called the chef, Domenico Acampora. He connected with one of the owners of Lucky Vito’s in Riyadh, where he worked at the Four Seasons. Before that, he spent some time at Le Cirque in New York and worked as chef de cuisine at Ama in Milan when it picked up a Michelin star. Acampora went on to describe some of Accanto’s menu:

• “We have a beautiful Colorado lamb timbale. [I] pretty much [got] the idea in Australia from shepherd’s pie, which is more like pub food. The idea is to transform that into fine dining. So we use braised Colorado lamb with mashed potatoes brûlée, and serve it with papaya mint salad.”

• “We obviously have risotto, because I am from Milan. For instance, risotto with pear mousse, white celery, and then pecorino cheese. Top the risotto with homemade fresh pear sorbet.”

Creative food, a solid culinary pedigree, and no buzz (yet). Our interest is piqued. How about you, Logan Squareites?

Quotable

“The only time to eat diet food is while you are waiting for the steak to cook.” –Julia Child (1912-2004), American chef and author

Going Poag

The Loop burger icon Poag Mahone’s is opening a second location—pegged to the theatre season beginning in September—in a space at the corner of Lake and Dearborn (195 N. Dearborn St.) most recently occupied by a three-headed Arby’s/Sbarro/Burrito Beach combo. “The new Poag’s is going to be the uptown version of the original Poag’s,” says Dan Rosenthal, the owner. Rosenthal means “uptown” both directionwise and metaphorically: Although the well-known burgers will stay on the menu, the new Poag’s will be more gastropub than pub, in competition for pre-theatre business with places such as Petterino’s, Catch 35, and Rosenthal’s own Trattoria No. 10. Pretty upmarket for a restaurant whose name means “kiss my ass” in Irish.

Influence Peddler

In another intriguing Logan Square opening, here’s Jorge Miranda on what he wants to do at Chilapan (2459 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-697-4597), a 35-seat BYOB that opened March 18th:

“More than anything, I want to show all the influences of Mexican cooking. Not only the moles. But all the French influence and Italy and Spain; Korean influence. We have all these little towns in Mexico that people from those countries came to, and now they are Mexican, but they use their [home countries’] cooking. That cooking infused by moles and pipiáns and all that.”

Movin’ On Up

As of April 12th, it’s a new story for diners at ¡Salpicón! (1252 N. Wells St.; 312-988-7811), where the remodeled second floor now houses the dining room while the first floor is renovated. “We always had the second floor vacant but used it as a wine cellar. A cellar in the sky,” says Vince Satkoff, a co-owner with his wife, Priscila, who is also the chef. When the first floor reopens—Satkoff hopes in 10 or 12 weeks—it will resume as the main dining room, and the second floor will be used for weekend overflow from downstairs and for special events. Satkoff says people frequently have asked about private parties, even though the restaurant couldn’t accommodate them. If you’re planning to eat there but worrying about construction dust, worry no longer: The work site is walled off, and an elevator will whisk you to the second floor.

Sausage Link

If all the loose ends get tied up, a casual Italian-Polish place in the South Loop from David Yanda and Bill Bolton (both of Fox & Obel and Zapatista) called Flo & Santos (1310 S. Wabash Ave.; 312-566-9817) will open tomorrow. From the menu, the chef, Mark Rimkus, touts his thin-crust “South Side style” pizza, with homemade everything—crust, sauce, sausage—as well as the sandwiches, including a Polish Reuben, which has Polish ham, sauerkraut, bacon, and “Polish dressing” on rye. The name of the restaurant, as well as the ethnically unusual conceit, come from Bolton’s childhood. “His best friend’s parents were named Flo and Santos,” Yanda says. “Flo was Polish and Santos was Italian.” Sounds like a match made in heaven—Polish and Italian have always been two of our favorite sausages.

Experience Necessary

The principals at Duckfat Tavern & Grill (7218 Madison St., Forest Park; 708-488-1493) have impressive resumés. Dennis Miller, a co-owner, opened the bygone Lawrence of Oregano and then had his fingers in restaurants in Mount Prospect, Lake Bluff, Evanston, and Oak Park before launching Duckfat. The chef, Jorge Almaraz, made his name (and famous fish tacos, which are also on Duckfat’s menu) at Flamingo’s Fine Mexican Seafood in Mount Prospect. Miller has conceived Duckfat as an “upscale tavern,” with most entrées in the $12 to $17 range, an assortment of sandwiches and burgers, and, as the name suggests, duck-fat fries. Mexican chef plus American exec seems to have equaled a hit—the place has been mobbed since it opened at the beginning of March.

Things to Do

  1. Try the prix fixe menu at Chalkboard (4343 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-477-7144), available through May 9th. For $50, diners get five courses with wine pairings. The last course is a bacon dessert, which raises our suspicions, but we’ll reserve judgment until we eat it.
  2. Meet a cheesemaker and taste her cheese on April 20th at the Chicago French Market location of Pastoral (131 N. Clinton St.; 312-454-2200). Leslie Cooperband of Prairie Fruits Farm will talk cheese, answer questions, and supply free chèvre to taste.
  3. See if food bloggers can bake as well as they type at the Food Blogger Bake Sale, on April 17th at Smash Cake Bakery (2961 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-281-2383) from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Proceeds go to the child-hunger charity Share Our Strength.

Dot Dot Dot . . .

After a 22-year run, Va Pensiero (1566 Oak Ave., Evanston) called it a day. “Just kind of a perfect storm: insurance rates going up, the economy going down, equipment getting old, the lease being just about up,” says Jeffrey Muldrow, the chef-owner. . . . The opening of the cupcake shop Sprinkles, in part of the old Sur La Table space at 52-54 East Walton Street, has been pushed back to after Memorial Day. . . . The second location of Al Primo Canto (749 N. Clark St.; 312-280-9090), in the old Le Lan space, is open. . . . A Friend of Dish walked over to Eivissa (1531 N. Wells St.) and found it closed. A guy walking out said it had shut down March 21st. . . . A clarification: We previously reported that Ba Le Sandwich & Bakery (5018 N. Broadway; 773-561-4424) was expanding into the space at 5014. In fact, Ba Le is relocating into 5014. Tim Nguyen, the owner, is keeping the 5018 space for a future project.

 

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