The wood-burning oven promises to get Northwoods-cabin-in-winter use at Reno (2607 N. Milwaukee Ave., no phone yet), the casual Italian concept with American influences that’s scheduled to open in November in the former Ciao Napoli Pizzeria space in Logan Square. With breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, Reno will start the day wood-firing preboiled bagels. At lunch, the bagels will be used for sandwiches. Then, for dinner, pizzas with house-made fennel sausage and house-pulled mozzarella will bake in 700- to 800-degree heat. Reno will also offer house-made pastas such as bucatini, spaghetti, rigatoni, and wagon wheels. “We have an old vintage pasta extruder with ten different brass dies on it,” says Johnny Anderes, the chef and first-time partner with the team behind Webster’s Wine Bar, Bluebird, and Telegraph, which is next door. As you’d expect from those other oenocentric places, the wine program shows careful consideration. “We’re focusing on producers who eschew the normal parameters for making wines from their local spots,” says Jeremy Quinn, the sommelier, citing designations such as Italy’s DOC. The partners hope to sell wine with uniform pricing, so that every bottle might cost $30 to drink at the restaurant and $20 to take home. There’s a lot going on here—but as the name Reno suggests, it’s a gamble to open a restaurant, so you better hedge your bets.
Everything’s Bigger in Frisco
More steak mansion than steak house, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House (58 E. Oak St., no phone yet) plans a December 1 opening in the 400-seat multifloor space of the old Esquire Theater. (It’s 540 seats counting the banquet rooms.) The executive chef, James Teutemacher, and the chef de cuisine, Anthony Reyes, will oversee the kitchen, which will turn out prime, 28-day wet-aged steaks including a 22-ounce bone-in rib eye and a 32-ounce wagyu rib eye—generally without the meat-cart kabuki from the servers. “If someone wants to see the cut of meat, they can. Just ask,” says Teutemacher, who is shifting over from Del Frisco’s corporate sibling Sullivan’s Steakhouse. Flown-in-daily seafood and steak-house-appropriate sides such as lobster mac and cheese, potatoes au gratin, baked potatoes, and vegetables like Brussels sprouts, green beans, and asparagus round out the menu. A Chicago streak runs through the bar menu; expect items such as mini deep-dish pizzas, pierogi, mini Italian beef, and mini Chicago-style hot dogs. With a 32-ounce steak on the menu, though, in this case “mini” might just mean “normal.”
“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” —Carl Sagan (1934–1996), American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences
Enso It Goes
After opening nameless and holding a naming contest for its customers, a new Bucktown sushi place now goes by Enso Sushi & Bar (1613 N. Damen Ave., 773-878-8998), referring to the Japanese word for circle. “We twist a lot of Asian ingredients and make it Midwestern comfort food,” says Vassaly Sivanthaphanith, the general manager, citing deep-fried cherry tomatoes with Gouda-blue cheese sauce and homemade ramen with bacon, sweet corn, pea shoots, and miso butter. The executive chef Kori Luangsuwan (Bistronomic) and a sushi chef who prefers not to be named (formerly of Sunda) also produce a long list of specialty rolls, supplemented by a make-a-maki option in which customers can dictate an ingredient base for a new roll. The results will appear on the menu if the chefs like it, as happened with the Mother Boy, a roll with super white tuna, shishito pepper, salmon roe, eel sauce, and wasabi cream. Customers chose the name, they have a hand in the menu, . . . can we get some input on the price?
Mitch Dulin owned Central Street Café (2800 Central St., Evanston, 847-864-4444) until October 1, when he finalized the deal to sell it to the chef, Dave Najman. Here’s where these diverging roads are heading:
• Dulin plans to open a new restaurant in the Illinois Bone & Joint Building at 1144 Wilmette Avenue in Wilmette, assuming that deal closes as planned in December. He envisions a family dining area serving pizzas and other kid-friendly foods; an upscale dining area similar to Central Street Café’s; a lounge with craft beers, wine, and small-batch bourbon; and a beer garden with a grill where there’s now a parking lot. He’s aiming to open his 7,000-square-foot, 275-seat as-yet-unnamed Italian place in March or April.
• Najman, formerly of the foodie favorite Glenn’s Diner, intends to bring a seafood focus to Central Street Café, a specialty he picked up at Glenn’s. Market availability will dictate the seafood entrées, dishes such as wild Snake River sturgeon with mushroom-sherry cream sauce or pretzel-encrusted walleye. Expect New England clam chowder, too. A Michigan native, Najman is bringing some recipes from a Detroit steak house, including a spaghetti Bolognese incorporating filet mignon trimmings and a secret-recipe version of a condiment called zip sauce. “No one is in the building when I make it,” he says. “I saw the original recipe, in the chef’s handwriting from 1939. I tried it, and it’s amazing.”
She Said It
“Even though [it’s early] American tavern food, to me there is room to play with how you cook and make food delicious. My mom used to make oxtails for us for dinner. I’m just going to use the same method that she taught me. Braise the oxtail, then just put in star anise, soy sauce, chicken stock, and then I will serve it on precooked bone marrow.” —Jackie Shen, now the chef at City Tavern (1416 S. Michigan Ave., 312-663-1278) after a restless past few months, explaining how she will work within the restaurant’s historically inspired focus.
New Review: Yusho
New restaurant reviews, updated to reflect critics’ recent visits, appear each month in Chicago magazine, in Dine, as well as on our website. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. Yusho previously was not listed. The new review appears in the November issue, on newsstands tomorrow.
Yusho (2853 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-904-8558). Japanese yakitori.
★★ (very good)
$$ ($30–$39 per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)
At this sharp lair, Matthias Merges shows off his skill with skewers for his take on grilled Japanese street food with a Basque backbeat. With 30 small plates, nightly specials, and loads of designer cocktails, artisanal beers, and sakes, there’s plenty for all palates. Chicken liver mousse topped with skewered grilled livers and crisp chicken skin gets you into the spirit, and a sake-accented Kusshi oyster topped with apple cider tapioca and guava purée shows that the kitchen does not live by the skewer alone. On the other hand, even the mochi, filled with sour cherry curd, is grilled and finished with wasabi white chocolate.
For the dishes we liked best, click here.
- The ham-and-cheese sandwich is a collaborative affair at Dinkel’s Café.
- Not to be salty, but we’re seeing a lot of one particular dessert.
- Pollack gets her grease fix at Trademark Tavern.
Follow Pollack on Twitter.
Things to Do
1. Pull up a stool for some upscale midweek wine drinking at MK (868 N. Franklin St., 312-482-9179), which hosts its weekly Wine on Wednesday event tonight. At this evening’s installment, three three-ounce pours of Rhône Valley wines pair with small plates of Chesapeake Bay fluke crudo, seared Maine diver scallop, and grilled lamb loin for $25.
2. Tip back one final Femme du Coupe–created cocktail at Homestead (1924 W. Chicago Ave., 773-645-4949) before the rooftop garden-to-table spot goes into hibernation. On October 13, Homestead’s final night until it reopens in the spring, all food and drink will be 30 percent off from 5 p.m. until close.
3. Help launch Allium Beta Beer—a new Belgian ale brewed with Nichols Farm & Orchard sugar beets, cinnamon, and bay leaves—a collaboration between Allium (Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware Pl., 312-799-4900) and the community-supported Ravenswood brewery Begyle Brewing Company. On October 16 from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Allium will host a free soiree to introduce both the beer (normally $6, but $3 here) and the restaurant’s fall menu, which includes wagyu short-rib sliders and pretzel bites with foie gras and date mustard (free samples will be passed).
4. Feast your eyes on the 50 best sandwiches in the city and suburbs, as chosen by Chicago’s carb-loaded dining critics. Then, tune in to WGN Radio on Sunday at 1 p.m. to hear Penny Pollack discuss the winners.
- Headquarters (950 W. Wolfram St., 773-665-5660), a “beercade” with throwback games such as Centipede, Donkey Kong, and NBA Jam and 16 beers on tap, flips the on-switch tomorrow.
- DavidsTea, a Canadian-based chain that plans to open two additional Chicago shops in the coming months, debuts in Bucktown (1645 N. Damen Ave., 773-697-9737) on Saturday.
- Dat Bar-B-Q (8247-51 S. Cottage Grove Ave., no phone yet), a new concept from the Dat Donut crew, aims to fire up the smokers on October 15.
- Chuck’s Manufacturing (230 N. Michigan Ave., 312-334-6700), a downtown spot with a something-for-everyone menu that allows diners to customize a meal of three small portions, soft-opens on October 15.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
After closing due to fire damage in June, Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits reopens Saturday. . . . Belden Deli, which had closed temporarily following the death of one of the owners, has now shuttered for good. . . . The chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark have left Bonsoirée. The Michelin-starred restaurant will close temporarily on October 13 while Shin Thompson, a partner, determines its fate.