First, it was daughter Gina with her West Loop spot Mad Social, and now another apple lands close to the tree as Anthony Stefani, son of storied restaurateur Phil Stefani, prepares to launch his first restaurant. It’s still in its preliminary stages, but expect pizza and a bustling new concept at 605 North Wells Street in River North.
Though he spent much of his youth busing, food-running, and cashiering at restaurants, this is the first restaurant job of Anthony’s adult career. As he did with Gina, Phil encouraged his son to explore other industries before returning to the family biz. Fresh off a five-year stint with the Blackhawks’ corporate sponsorships department, Anthony brings a lifelong love for Italy to his new venture. Of the food he’ll serve, he teases, “We have an idea of a very unique style pizza to bring to the table.”
Phil, who owns a home in the Tuscan city of Lucca, which he visits around five times a year, is on board as both consultant and mentor. He says that the less formal, more convivial vibe they’re going for mirrors a shift he’s noticed in Italy’s dining scene. “We don’t want to call this an Italian restaurant,” he says. “We have an Italian name and background, but this one is going to be very ‘River North,’ with a social, vibrant atmosphere.”
But wait, there’s more! On the heels of opening the aforementioned Mad Social last year, Gina is at it again, preparing to open a 200-seat steakhouse this fall. The project—a newly constructed spot at 6755 North Cicero Avenue in Lincolnwood—also has yet to be named, but Phil promises a menu of steaks, seafood, and some of the Stefanis’ more popular Italian dishes. According to Phil, not only will the steaks be prime, but so will the location: “[It will be a] great meeting place, where downtown Chicago can meet the northern suburbs—and right off the expressway.”