Facing the expiration of the lease at Deleece (4004 N. Southport Ave.; 773-325-1710), Lynne Wallack decided to explore her options instead of just negotiate a new lease. Only a few blocks down the street, she spotted a for-lease sign at 3747 North Southport Avenue, the former home of Take Five and Strega Nona. The building’s new owners also own the long-dormant Mercury Theatre next door, and as part of the reopening of the theatre, they were looking for a casual fine-dining restaurant to partner with in the adjacent space. “We were thinking, Oh my God, this was meant to be,” Wallack says. Deleece will partner with Mercury on pretheatre dinners and introduce a small-plate menu for quick bites before or after shows. The restaurant and theatre will even share bathrooms, so if you’re eating there during a show, try to use the loo before the intermission rush.
It’s Five Somewhere
Fives are wild at Bodega N. 5 (Blackstone Hotel, 638 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-765-0524), the newly rebranded downstairs lounge at Mercat a la Planxa. For breakfast and lunch, counter-service sandwiches such as bacon-egg-cheese and egg–bell pepper will cost $5 each. Coffee will be served in nifty French press–style disposable cups (which are just cool, not 5-related). After 5 p.m., the Mercat menu will be available, but in keeping with the quinary theme, cocktails, beer, and wine will all go for $5. Steve Serdar, the general manager, says Bodega will open in late May (we humbly suggest the 25th, which would be, of course, 5/25 = 5/5*5). We’re thinking they should go all out and add nickel-plated railings and Abe Lincoln portraits.
“A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.”
—James Beard (1903–1985), American chef and food writer
A New Weigh to Sell Pizza
Delis usually sell items by weight, but Sacco Bruno (2151 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-278-8028), an Italian market in Bucktown scheduled to open in about two weeks, offers not only the usual imported meats and cheeses by the pound but also their Roman-style focaccia pizza. Sacco Bruno makes the focaccia in-house and prepares the pizza in large rectangular trays. Counter workers will cut off what you want, weigh it for sale, and heat it. “It’s kind of an artsy thing,” says Joseph D’Anca, the owner. The market will also sell local organic produce when it’s in season, some dairy products, and hot and cold subs. A small wine bar will carve out 800 square feet of the store once the license goes through. The wine will be sold the normal way, in glasses and bottles, although wine sold by weight would be pretty cool, too.
Skinnie Piggy’s Inventory
A photographer by trade, Monica Rodriguez is opening the cupcake—oops, strike that—sweets shop Skinnie Piggy (1214 W. Taylor St.; 312-496-3366) with her business partner Kenneth Geary, on Monday, if all goes well. “We’re definitely not just a cupcake place,” Rodriguez says. Here’s what you’ll find there:
• Cupcakes. About 30 cupcake flavors will generally be available, although they’ll open with 12. They come in sizes called “skinnie” and “piggy.” Rodriguez says they will be baked at the shared-kitchen space Kitchen Chicago.
• Cheesecake pops. Globe-shaped pieces of cheesecake on a stick, the pops come in flavors such as chocolate, chocolate peanut, and coconut.
• Grab-and-go table with old-timey-drugstore brands such as Blow Pops, Mary Janes, and Lemonheads. We’re crossing our fingers for Black Jack gum.
Cafe au Late
Dion Antic (Bagel on Damen, Harry’s Velvet Room) is up to his old, um, antics—he’s opening Porkchop (941 W. Randolph St.; 312-733-9333), a bar and simple-food late-night restaurant, around May 12th. The menu includes an andouille lollipop (a phrase with a huge density of Ls in the middle), brick chicken, spaghetti with veal-pork meatballs, and bacon-leek risotto with a poached egg. Meats will be grilled over complementary wood mixtures—such as cherry for the namesake pork chop—which also incorporate wood from whiskey barrels. On the drinks side, whiskeys are always served neat with ice presented separately, and four draft beers and 12 bottled beers will rotate in and out. And when Antic says “late,” he means it: The kitchen stays open until 1:30, and weekend brunch (which begins in June) will be served until 6 p.m., which just makes us feel old.
He Said It
“I really create whatever they want.” —Ruben Villanueva, a partner in the new(ish) Eclissi (8018 Lincoln Ave., Skokie; 847-675-8800), describing his policy for off-menu requests. A sample entrée: steak valdostana, with rib eye, fresh sage, Fontina cheese, and prosciutto ($19).
• Pollack tests the waters at GT Fish & Oyster.
• Lettuce eat izakaya-style small plates at Tokio Pub in Schaumburg, the new Lettuce Entertain You restaurant opening May 19th.
• As we’ve come to expect, Scott Harris has more than a few new tricks up his sleeve—now it’s a bruschetteria and wine bar called Panza and a doughnut shop called Glaze.
• Pollack finds satisfaction in an old standby at Portillo’s.
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Things to Do
1. Welcome the newcomer The Hot Dog Company (76 S. La Grange Rd., La Grange; 708-469-7096) by treating yourself to a Chicago dog and fries for $1 during its grand opening celebration, May 9th through 16th.
2. Order one last helping of jerk chicken from Hyde Park’s tropical hideaway Calypso Cafe (5211C S. Harper Ave.; 773-955-0229) before it permanently closes on June 5th.
3. Pray for a rain-free Saturday as Green City Market (1750 N. Clark St.; 773-880-1266) returns to its outdoor digs this week.
4. Pop in to the one-night pop-up restaurant at Chalkboard (4343 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-477-7144) on Tuesday, when Peter Klein (Seedling Fruit) and Gale Gand (Tru) will team up to concoct a $65-per-person feast.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
In a whirlwind of new openings, Bridge House Tavern (321 N. Clark St.; 312-644-0283) has taken over the former Flatwater Grill space; quick-serve Mediterranean spot I Dream of Falafel (555 W. Monroe St.; 312-559-3333) is making Loopers’ lunchtime dreams come true with its third location; Time Out Chicago reports that a feisty Moroccan-born pit master has brought his talents to fledgling BBQ shop Smoke Signals(7137 S. State St.; 773-783-1855); sandwich spot D.C. Sarnies (694 Lake Cook Rd., Deerfield; 847-509-2000) opened in Deerfield; and the owners of Melanthios Greek Char House debuted Lake View shop Crazy Chickens (606 W. Barry Ave.; 773-661-9997), where free-range bird is the word. . . . Brit-style savory pie café Pleasant House Bakery(964 W. 31st St.; 773-523-7437) opens Friday. . . . As reported by Eater Chicago, Brendan Sodikoff (Gilt Bar, Doughnut Vault) will give us one more reason to queue up outside of the window adjacent to Gilt Bar when he adds soft-serve ice cream to the mix this summer. . . . Ryan Marks, the bloke behind 404 Wine Bar, Jack’s Bar & Grill, and The Irish Oak, plans to fill the vacated Lincoln Park Charlie’s Ale House space this fall with Derby (1224 W. Webster Ave.; no phone yet), a British/American-themed sports pub. . . . Northdown Café and Taproom (3244 N. Lincoln Ave.; no phone yet), an 85-seat comfort food joint from the owners of Milwaukee’s Honeypie Café, is set to open Tuesday.