Excuse Me, Your Purse Is Melting
“[He] ordered killings as easily as he ordered linguine.” –Kitty Kelley (b. 1942), American journalist, on the notorious Chicago Mob boss Sam Giancana
A Conversation with Alfredo Sandoval
Sandoval, along with his brother, chef Patricio Sandoval, plans in May to open a 100-seat offshoot of the New York standout taquería mini-empire, Mercadito, in River North’s former La Pomme Rouge space (108 W. Kinzie St.).
D: You Sandovals sure run a lot of restaurants.
AS: My older brother, Richard Sandoval, he owns 15 restaurants all over the world. Then I have another brother, Felipe. He owns two restaurants in San Francisco [including Maya]. He is also a partner in Mercadito in Chicago.
D: And Patricio?
AS: He is the youngest. He is the creator of the food at Mercadito. He graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York and worked for our brother Richard for many years.
D: People are already making inevitable comparisons between Mercadito and Rick Bayless’s restaurants.
AS: I’m a big fan of his restaurants. We are not too far from his location, about two blocks away. But our style is very different. I think our food is a little more fun. Our menu is a sharing menu.
D: For example?
AS: We’re known for tacos, handmade tortillas. There are about 12 three-bite tacos on the menu and every one is completely different. Our average customer will end up eating seven tacos and then a botana and a seviche.
D: What botanas do you serve?
AS: Roasted poblanos; baked oysters with chile habanero rouille, manchego cheese, and homemade chorizo; handmade pacadas. Those are small round corn masas with black bean purée, topped with tomatilla salsa. We also do large dishes like red snapper ($21 to $25, depending on market price and weight), marinated in red pepper paste, with a tomato coleslaw salad and chipotle rouille. Rice and beans and tortillas on the side. You could make fish tacos.
D: Did you gut the old Pomme Rouge?
AS: Taken pretty much everything out. This will be rustic and modern. We are going to mix the old with the new. Very sexy. We’ll do a salsa and guacamole bar, and a tequila lounge downstairs, too, but we don’t know when that will open.
D: What do your parents think of all this?
AS: My father owned a restaurant in Acapulco for 30 years. They are very proud.
We’d Love to Be on That Moving Truck
Floriole Bakery, currently at 2119 North Rockwell Street (773-252-0095), will move to 1220 West Webster Avenue in Lincoln Park this summer. “We will be able to have a lot more diversity in our product,” says Sandra Holl, the pastry chef/partner in the seasonal bakery. “We’re hoping to expand our pastries. Been testing recipes. Hoping to have traditional things like a pecan éclair. Working on croissants. Hoping to add some breads as well. A lot more tarts with fresh fruits in the summer. Some chocolate items. We will keep our quiches. Hoping to add sandwiches.”
An FOD who knows his pizza told us that the pies at Trattoria Antignana (1767 W. Ogden Ave., Naperville; 630-717-7821), a 60-seat spot under the same roof as Fontano’s, were every bit as good as those at Spacca Napoli. A phone call to the owners piqued our interest further. “We went to Naples a couple of years ago to research,” says Loretta Paoletti, who owns the place with her husband, Joe, and their chef, Mike Bakos. “Everything here is Naples-style. My husband is 100 percent about Naples.” Fontano’s is 12 years old, but two years ago, after that trip abroad, it added pizza that Loretta Paoletti described as “crunchy on the outside and then a little pillowy. . . . Once you go there [Naples] and have the experience—that’s what we wanted to have here.”
Things to Do
- There’s no shortage of places to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, but if you’re in Lincoln Square, you might look into Trattoria Trullo (4767 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-506-0093, which offers an all-you-can-eat Italian buffet for $13 and free dining for kids under seven.
- Order an entrée ($16) for brunch at SushiSamba Rio (504 N. Wells St.; 312-595-2300), and get not one, not two, but three cocktails for free. Three “caipiroskas” (or mimosas, or bloody marys), before noon? Lovely.
- Go to Pops for Champagne (601 N. State St.; 312-266-7677) between 3 and 7 p.m. any weekday, and receive 37 percent off all food items. Except caviar. Not that you were going to order caviar anyway.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
Purgatory Pizza (3415 N. Clark St.; 773-975-6677), which is quickly becoming known for its creative promotions, offers a pizza brunch every Sunday: all you can eat and drink for $13. . . . Required reading: Alan Richman’s stunning story about Michael Carlson of Schwa (1466 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-252-1466) on GQ.com. Richman manages to do what none here in Chicago could—explain the enigma that is Carlson. . . . Opened this week: Bruno and Melissa Abate’s second stylish Italian spot, Tocco (1266 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-687-8895). . . . Also new: 35th Street Cafe (1735 W. 35th St.; 773-523-3500), a polished coffee/lunch spot in McKinley Park.
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