Naperville’s new Hotel Arista landed Jimmy Sneed, a larger-than-life character, to head up its restaurant, which Sneed promptly named SugarToad. The moniker comes from a term for an ugly—but sweet—breed of blowfish found in the Chesapeake Bay, and Sneed will serve it battered in tempura as a teaser at his 95-seat regional American spot (designed by Dirk Lohan). "I’m all about simplicity," says Sneed, a James Beard award nominee for The Frog and the Redneck in Richmond, Virginia. "I don’t sprinkle, dribble, stack, squirt, or in any way take away from the food." Instead, he uses top-notch ingredients, including salt from a massive 150-million-year-old salt block in Utah, to season sweet yellow pepper sauce for blackened salmon (ingredients shown here, $28). CityGate Centre, 2139 CityGate Ln., Naperville; 630-778-8623. 

Photography: Anna Knott