What’s Opening and Happening in Chicago Restaurants This Week

More cured meats for Randolph Street. A Chicago favorite shutters its windows. And a café dedicated to casseroles.

Photo courtesy of johnny casserole

Enjoy soups, salads, homestyle dishes, and vintage globes from David Bryson at the new Johnny Casserole café. 

Openings

• Saturday 7/20: Pick up your cured meats in person at West Loop Salumi’s (1111 W. Randolph St., 312-255-7004) new storefront. Expanding from online service, the salumeria is open on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Owners Greg Laketek and Jesse Katzman will use Berkshire pork and grass-fed beef from Midwest co-ops as well as whole-milk-fed hogs from Wisconsin. Their curing process is a labor of love; products are made in small batches following the methods of traditional Italian salumerias.

• Monday 7/22: David Bryson likes to take things slow, at least when it comes to food. The chef/owner at Johnny Casserole (4019 N. Damen Ave., 773-857-2665) just opened a sit-down café where guests can order individual or “casserole” size portions that serve 6 to 8. Although they take 45 minutes to cook, menu items such as the chicken and veggie pot pie or the French toast breakfast casserole might be worth the wait. Order ahead from the regular menu online or pick from the daily specials. Soups and salads are available, as well as pastries from Red Hen Bakery and java from Big Shoulders Coffee.

• Monday 7/29: The space that formerly held Alain’s will soon be home to a new sit-down Mediterranean and Greek restaurant. Kurah Mediterranean Tapas (1355 S. Michigan Ave., 312-624-8611) will serve Middle Eastern-inspired dinners and tapas and a full bar with a craft-beer focus. Though they already own South Loop Market, this is Moe Hammad and Jamil Kanan’s first foray into the restaurant world. Dan Sarkiss has left Bridgeport’s Zaytune to lead Kurah’s kitchen and plans to bring locally sourced, organic Mediterranean to Sloopers.

Morsels

As of Monday, July 22, West Town Tavern (1329 W. Chicago Ave.) is no more. Fans of the contemporary comfort-food fixture were surprised to find this message in their e-mails and on the website’s homepage at the beginning of the week:

To our guests- West Town Tavern has closed its doors. Thank you for all of you support, encouragement and downright love. We are proud to have been a part of Chicago’s vibrant dining scene for the last eleven years and now it’s time for us to explore other opportunities. Look for a change at 1329 West Chicago Avenue.

All the best,

Drew and Susan Goss

We will report on any news from West Chicago Avenue. Whatever comes next has some big shoes to fill.

Charles Joly has had a big week. The beverage director of the Aviary (955 W. Fulton Market, 312-226-0868) won the honor of American Bartender of the Year at the Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans on Saturday. This week also marks the launch of Crafthouse Cocktails, a line of bottled cocktails from Joly and Matt Lindner (Three Headed Productions). They’re starting production with three different recipes—Moscow Mule (vodka), Paloma (tequila), and Southside (gin). Keep an eye on their Facebook page for a list of local distributors.

In case you haven’t heard yet, Prince William and Duchess Kate welcomed His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge on Monday. In honor of the new royal, Spencer’s Jolly Posh Foods (1405 W. Irving Park Rd., 312-415-6919) is offering an afternoon tea special for $35. Serving times are Thursday and Friday at 2:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Space is limited. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.

The rooftop at Little Goat (820 W. Randolph St., 312-888-3455) has been a hot spot this summer, but Stephanie Izard plans to slow things down with an intimate patio dinner on Monday, July 29. The meal will focus on ingredients hand-picked by Izard from Saturday’s Green City Market; sweet corn, berries, and goat are all likely candidates. Call 312-888-3455 and ask for Caitlin to reserve one of the 12 seats. Price is $175. Cocktails will be served at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7.

Dimo’s Pizza is opening a second location at the six corners intersection of Wicker Park (1615 N. Damen Ave., 773-525-7432). To celebrate their opening, along with the fifth birthday of the Wrigleyville location (3463 N. Clark St., 773-525-4580), both pizza parlors will hand out $1 pizza slices Wednesday evening until midnight. There will also be live entertainment at the Wicker Park event from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

 

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