A Monumental Opening
“Do you know why we named Maggiano’s Maggiano’s?” asks Rich Melman, the founder and chairman of the restaurant company Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. “One of our partners opened up Scoozi! He died in a plane crash right after it opened. Marv Magid. Maggiano’s was named after him. It was sort of a private thing. We took the ‘Mag’- for Maggiano’s. I am sad to say we lost another partner this year. A 39-year-old woman with two young kids. To cancer. Sara Rowe.” The name of Saranello’s (Westin Chicago North Shore, 601 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling; no phone yet), an Italian spot in the works in the former Osteria di Tramonto space, bears her memorial. The managing partner of the project, Mark Tormey, says the food will be approachable, affordable Italian—for example, a not-thick, not-thin crusty pan pizza and house-made ravioli. The chef will be Mychael Bonner, who is currently at Reel Club in Oak Brook. Melman and Tormey say they plan to open Saranello’s this fall.
“Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.”
—W. C. Fields (1880–1946), American comedian, actor, juggler, and writer
With The Butcher & Larder open since early this year and Butcher & the Burger and Wellfleet, which will be inside Fishguy Market, slated to open later in 2011, the market/casual joint trend has netted another big fish, this one in west Lake View. New England Seafood Company Fish Market (3341 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-871-3474), a fish market and ten-table counter-service spot, is poised to set sail September 7 in the space that formerly housed the pan-Asian takeout specialist Kite. Three brothers, Jeff, Robert, and Mark Mazza, own the operation. “It’s a fish market—fish, lobsters, and [with a] lobster shack feel that you find on the East Coast,” Jeff says. A lobster boil, baked haddock, fried or steamed clams, and lobster rolls typify the eat-in menu. Market items will be flown in daily. The area feels ripe for a specialized fish market—if you’ll pardon the expression, there aren’t many fish in that sea.
Pollack’s Dinner at Tribute in 119 Words
Tribute (800 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-957-0000), despite its dramatic chef changes before opening, now, six weeks in, is curiously under the radar. The clean lines of the big bar and lounge give way to a generically modern dining area, and the menu uses the tired “small” and “large” designations, but some real gems come out of the kitchen. I started with a refreshing, gingery Drago Mule cocktail, which lasted through a bowl of yummy sweet-corn pudding topped with terrifically earthy mushrooms. Ultrafresh curls of hamachi crudo surprised with a peppery bent, and the brisket-laced mac and cheese defied cliché. The short-rib “large” plate delivered supertasty, fantastically juicy, fall-off-the-bone meat onto my waiting fork. I decided against dessert—I wanted the short-rib flavor to linger.
“If you were one of the local men in Andersonville, you hung out in my dad’s garage,” says Lisa Kennedy, a partner in The Garage Bar & Sandwiches (6154 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-647-1386), a Norwood Park spot that opened July 26. “It was just an old-time garage with a potbelly stove that my dad had made and old motorcycles and ice skates hanging from the rafters.” Kennedy, along with her boyfriend, Jesse Roman, and Tim Camastro, who owns the popular Evanston sandwich shop Rollin’ to Go, rented the space that most recently housed the short-lived Got Spaghetti? and the shorter-lived Cucina Madonna. The sandwiches ($6–$7) from Rollin’ to Go form the centerpiece of Garage’s menu, with appetizers, sides, and daily specials rounding it out. If they’re looking for some décor elements, we know where to find broken power tools and rusty old screws someone thought could be reused. Call us.
Imitation Is the Highest Form of Flattery
And elsewhere in Norwood Park—although we recognize that the name probably isn’t a ploy to get us to write about it—a restaurant called Dish (6169 N. Northwest Hwy.; 773-594-0100) will be opening in mid-September. The 120-seat comfort-food spot is a retirement project for Michael Jettner Sr., who did fingerprinting and took photographs as a civilian with the Chicago Police Department, and Peter Streff, who worked in banking and real estate. (Jettner’s son, Michael Jr., owns Jet’s Public House.) Dish will offer steaks, chicken sandwiches and wraps, mac and cheese, seven kinds of chili in winter, and burgers on pretzel rolls made by Heartland Café in Rogers Park. The chef, Justin Kubica, will make desserts in-house, including a volcano of chocolate lava cake with ice cream and a caramel drizzle. The name similarity tickles us, but we will get suspicious if we look tomorrow and it’s suddenly called Grub Street.
You Are Now Free to Move Up Wells Street
Jeff Bersh, the owner of Fresh Choice, has freshly chosen to shutter the Wells Street location of the sandwiches-and-smoothies shop (the Michigan Avenue site will remain open) and move up the street to open a wine bar, Flight 1551 (1551 N. Wells St.; 312-446-4600), in early October. Dan Reineke, the general manager, says more than 90 wines from around the globe will be offered, including 51 by the glass. Chef Robyn Marfurt (Fountainhead) will turn out American small plates, with cheese and a chocolate flight for dessert. The space seats 50 to 60 diners, and a circular bar accommodates an additional 16. Now if only they could get us something more than a packet of peanuts on Flight 1113.
The new incarnation of the Italian spot Bice (10 E. Delaware St.; 312-951-8900) opened (with a very large patio) in the spring, and after going through an opening chef and an interim chef, the restaurant now has a permanent chef: James Kilberg, most recently of Terragusto, and before that, Il Poggiolo, Via Ventuno, Coco Pazzo Café, and, full-circle-wise, Bice. “I’ve changed the food. I’ve changed the menu. I’ve changed everything. Everything is better,” he says. From the new menu, Kilberg recommends the osso buco, the branzino, and the chitarra alla pomodoro. He didn’t mention the promotion we’re dying to see, though: Bice Blanket Bingo.
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Things to Do
1. Get your copy of Good Eating’s Best of the Best, the first new cookbook from the Chicago Tribune in more than a decade. The 50-recipe compilation is edited by Carol Mighton Haddix, who edited the Trib’s food section for many years, and includes standouts from the paper’s weekly Good Eating section, such as shrimp hash cakes and pumpkin flan with gingersnap crust.
2. Invest your time with finance folks for $5 after-market cocktails and nibbles at The Lobby Lounge (JW Marriott Chicago, 151 W. Adams St.; 312-660-8200). Weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m., the luxe lounge offers five $5 small plates—from white-bean hummus to spicy truffle-honey chicken bites— and $5 tipples, such as today’s pick, a glass of Concannon cabernet or chardonnay.
3. Banish the kids’ back-to-school blahs this Sunday with $1 six-inch pizzas at Home Run Inn (multiple city and suburban locations). Kids 12 and under qualify for the deal, and the first 300 pint-sized pizza fans at each location will also score a swag bag.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
Thanks to a just-opened second location at 2370 Fountain Square Drive in Lombard, west suburbanites need not trek to Lake View anymore for their DMK Burger Bar fix. . . . Matt Maroni (Gaztro-Wagon) has opened his new shared-plate Italian joint, Mörso. (Don’t worry—Maroni assured us that Gaztro-Wagon will roll on.) . . . With yesterday’s opening of Michael Jordan’s Steak House, His Airness has officially unretired his name on the Chicago restaurant scene. . . . A year after Berry Chill went bankrupt, former owner Michael Farah re-enters the fro-yo scene today vehicularly, with the food truck Culture, The Yogurt Society. . . . Sign spotting: D’Amato’s, a West Town bread bakery, has an outdoor café opening within a month. . . . Toni Patisserie & Café, a Millennium Park–adjacent sweet shop from the co-owner of Toni in Hinsdale, is set to open August 29. . . . Also on Monday, the California-based gourmet burger and wine bar 25 Degrees will grill up the first sirloin, turkey, and veggie burgers from its new River North location.
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