Formento’s Will Be an Old-School Italian-American Joint

Think red sauce and spumoni from the owners of the Bristol and Balena.

Tony Quartaro Photo: Neil Burger

“We’re going back to American-Italian cuisine—from Sicily, Naples, through Ellis Island. The food that became popular in the States in the 1950s,” says Chris Pandel, one of the partners in Formento’s (925 W. Randolph St., West Loop, no phone yet), the upcoming restaurant from B. Hospitality Co., the owners of the Bristol and Balena. “Very abundant,” he adds, in a slanting reference to the Italian-table concept of abbondanza.

Tony Quartaro, who worked at New York’s Fedora and San Francisco’s A16 before joining the B. team, will head the kitchen, cooking a seasonal menu that’s all his, with the exception of some recipes from one of the owners’ grandmothers, whose maiden name was Formento. Homemade pastas and sauces informing dishes along the lines of lasagne and parmigianas will constitute a shank of the menu.

At lunchtime and at the bar, sandwiches such as meatball and parms both chicken and eggplant will be available. Sweets will wheel around on a throwbacky dessert cart, holding cakes and ice creams such as spumoni.

Until Formento’s opens—they’re hoping for November, but the building is still under construction, a notorious schedule-complicator—menu items will pop up for diners to preview every four to six Sundays at the Bristol. That is, if you can take a Sunday off from dinner at Nonna’s.

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