In April, Noah Himmel, a member of the third generation to own and operate the Edwardo’s Natural Pizza chain of restaurants, brought a radical idea to his father and grandfather. “I know people want to eat thinner, lighter food, and that’s the direction I want to go in,” he told them. Their blessing resulted in the early-November opening of Eduardos Enoteca (1212 N. Dearborn St.; 312-337-4490), a pilot for a possible transformation of the entire chain. While Edwardo’s is famous for its stuffed spinach pizza, the enoteca offers a thin Neapolitanish-crust pizza. “It’s not meant to be like eating a brick, like a stuffed pizza would be, where you just feel so stuffed after you eat,” Himmel says. The enoteca also offers handmade pastas with sauces, such as an eight-hour Bolognese, as well as crostini, charcuterie, and cheese boards. Himmel developed the food choices, including the pizza dough, himself. Formerly an Edwardo’s, symbolically enough, the tiny space (30 seats, if you count the six at the bar) also underwent a transformation, losing its drop ceilings in favor of oak rafters. Desserts include gelato-filled cannoli shells with caramel and sea salt, using gelato from Mitchell’s Soda Shop (which the Himmel family also owns, along with Gino’s East and Ed Debevic’s). Just don’t call them gelato-stuffed cannoli.
It Takes Two to Revolve
The adage says two heads are better than one. The kitchen at Revolver (3759 N. Damen Ave.; 773-529-9135) houses the heads of the chefs Brian Moulton (Côtes du Rhône) and Eric Aubriot (Carlos’, Aubriot, Rhapsody, et al.), in the space that previously housed Xippo. When we last heard about this concept in August, Moulton was shuttering Côtes to turn Xippo into a small-plate, French-influenced spot, and Aubriot was at Chinatown’s Lure Izakaya Pub. Although Moulton didn’t say anything to us about Aubriot then, both chefs were part of the Revolver project from the beginning. “Eric wanted me to not mention that to anybody,” Moulton says. “He wanted to remain underground.” Aubriot confirms that he was staying under the radar. “It’s a good thing to be. For a while,” he says. Moulton created the $7-$9-$12 tiered menu and named the restaurant. Day to day, he serves as saucier while Aubriot plates and expedites. The two share prep duties. From the menu, Aubriot highlights the wonton ravioli stuffed with crab, spinach, and cremini in lobster cream sauce and the burger with Swiss cheese, sautéed onions, and duck-liver pâté. Sounds like support for that old saying. Of course, there’s also that other adage about too many cooks. Here’s hoping two isn’t a broth-spoiling number.
“May your stuffing be tasty,
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
and your pies take the prize,
and may your Thanksgiving dinner
stay off of your thighs!”
Faster Than a Speeding Ticket
Apologies in advance for adding to your pessimism about getting a ticket to winter’s El Bullí–themed menu at Next (953 W. Fulton Market; 312-226-0858). Most tables for that menu will go to those who buy subscriptions—that is, tickets to several menus at once, like season tickets at a theatre. Nick Kokonas, the co-owner of Next, hopes subscriptions will be available at Next’s website sometime in mid-December and says that purchases will resemble theatre purchases, where the customer can pick packages of dates and times. Here’s the tragic math on the El Bullí menu: About 50 seats per night will be for subscribers. The menu will take enough time to serve that each table will be used only once per night (unlike Paris 1906, A Tour of Thailand, and Childhood, each of which allowed more than one party per night per table). Next has 64 seats. If you can’t score a subscription, you might have a better chance of getting Ferran Adrià to cook at your house than getting one of those last 14 seats.
Jason Wagner is the wine director and sommelier at the West Loop wine salon (116 N. Green St.; no phone yet) with a still-secret name that is scheduled to open in February. He most recently worked as the wine director and sommelier at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York. The salon will offer about 80 sparkling wines, 60 still wines, and small bites. Some highlights from our interview:
• His philosophy of what makes a wine good. “Imagine you were in a car accident, and you were in a coma, and you come out of it and you have amnesia. They put you in front of a painting and say, ‘You painted this.’ [How would] you look at it? [You’d probably say,] ‘Why did I paint that?’ For me, when I look at wine, I try to look at it in the same way, from the viewpoint of the winemaker or the land. What makes this wine happen? When something speaks to me, that’s when I know it’s a wine that I want.”
• What he’s chosen for the salon. “There are big houses, but mostly they buy grapes from other people to make their Champagne. Whereas growers are farmers. [Their sparkling wine] comes from a farm, not a factory. They are the guys who have dirty hands. They are on the land every day. And they only make [into sparkling wine] what they grow.”
• How customer service will work. “I will have servers on the floor who are very educated and knowledgeable about the wine. You can’t do it by yourself, that’s for sure. Unless you have a one-table restaurant.”
By Hook or By Ruk
Paul Sopanarat and his brother, John, opened Ruk Sushi Bar & Thai Cuisine (4431 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-286-1900) in Jefferson Park in mid-October. “He is actually the cool, the ice, and I’m the fire,” Paul says. They grew up learning the restaurant business in the Lincoln Square Thai restaurant Roong Petch, where their mother is the owner and head chef. They also learned her recipes, including her curries and pad Thai, which they’ve brought over to Ruk, while Mom stays at Roong. “But Mom will come visit here and there,” Paul says. “She wants to make sure I’m doing her recipes OK.”
- L2O shakes things up in the kitchen.
- Pollack is over the moon for Moon Palace’s pot stickers.
- Pork sweetbreads prove to be a smart gamble at The Purple Pig.
- Missed out on Next’s Paris 1906 menu? Re-create it yourself.
- Pollack gets sauced at Vera.
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On the Blog
Things to Do
- Do as the Spanish do and linger over late-night eats at Bodega N. 5 (Blackstone Hotel, 638 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-765-0524). Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Mercat a la Planxa’s lower lounge offers a sobremesa menu with $1 tapas, such as marinated Spanish white anchovies with confit tomato, and $5 cocktails, including sangría, beer, and wine.
- Ease the sting of missing family Thanksgiving at Jack’s Bar & Grill and the adjacent 404 Wine Bar (2856 N. Southport Ave.; 773-404-8400), where stranded students with a college ID nab a 50 percent discount on food and drinks November 23 and 25. (The restaurants are closed on Thanksgiving Day.)
- Grab your last sweet fix from The Cupcake Gallery and Uptown Pie Company (1319 W. Wilson Ave.; 773-334-5450) on November 26, when they’ll be serving free wine, cupcakes, and pie from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the final day of business at the shop they share. E-mail to RSVP.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
Congratulations to the 21 restaurants named in the 2012 Michelin Guide Chicago, especially Alinea, the sole Chicago recipient of the coveted three-star rating. . . . Per Steve Dolinsky, Seasons will close following New Year’s Eve service, making way for a more casual restaurant concept slated to take over the space. . . . Pending inspections, Slurping Turtle, Takashi Yagihashi’s ode to noodles and dumplings, is set to open November 22. . . . Toppers Pizza—a spot popular with the college set thanks to unconventional pizza toppings such as mac and cheese—will launch its first Chicago location, at 120 South Halsted Street, in early December. The Wisconsin-based franchise plans to open upward of 20 Chicago-area Toppers during the next four years. . . . .The guy making the pizza at the 11-day-old BYOB Nueva Italy Pizzeria worked 15 years at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. . . . Team Dish is taking next week off to baste turkeys. Happy Thanksgiving!Dining & Drinking