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Kevin Hickey’s Otto Mezzo Is Taking Over the Ay Chiwowa Space

The space is staying in the Rockit Ranch Productions family, but it’s going Italian.

Lambrusco cocktail at Otto Mezzo Photo: Kevin Hartmann

Rockit Ranch Productions (Bottlefork, The Duck Inn, Rockit Bar & Grill) said adios to Mexican-themed night spot Ay Chiwowa in 2015, and we finally know what’s next for the space. Get ready to say ciao to Otto Mezzo (311 W. Chicago Ave., River North), a project spearheaded by food and beverage director Kevin Hickey that’s slated to open this spring.

Hickey and senior executive bar director Brandon Phillips drew inspiration from post-WWII Italian culture to create an ambiance Hickey labels “art deco” and Phillips calls “dark and sexy.” Like its predecessor, Otto Mezzo will be geared toward the late-night crowd, keeping the party going til the wee hours (5 a.m. on Saturdays). Ay Chiwowa’s tequila makes way for amaro and grappa, with an Italian-craft cocktail program compliments of Phillips. Phillips’ brother, Michael Taylor, a certified sommelier, plans a menu of super-premium Tuscan reds available by the bottle and by the glass, in multiple-pour levels.

Hickey plans to mimic the Italian cocktail bar experience by creating food to complement what’s in your glass. This translates to olives filled with Burrata, rolled with nduja, and fried; panini; and a rotating pasta Hickey says will be “very filling.”

Post-meal options will include amaro-flavored gelato and spiked espresso drinks. “Everything will be spiked,” Phillips promises.

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