A Mano
OK, there’s officially no reason ever to leave Marina City. The tiny island of fun along the river has already got steak, live music, bowling, a gym, a hotel, and Chicago’s biggest wine bar. Now, from Dan Sachs, the mastermind of Bin 36, comes A Mano, an ambitious 180-seat Italian spot focused on gelato, panini, antipasti, and wood-fired pizza. “We are the antithesis of Olive Garden,” Sachs says. “This is authentic Italian food.” To prove it, he sent his exec chef, John Caputo, to Carpigiani’s Frozen Dessert University—how do we get in there?—to learn the art of gelato. Here’s hoping Caputo paid attention in class. 335 N. Dearborn St.; 312-629-3500. –Jeff Ruby

Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa  Food Styling: Christina Zerkis



Winston’s Market

In our dreams, the refrigerator is always packed with edibles both savory and sweet, and deciding what to have for dinner is a matter of choosing which appealing option will please us the very most tonight. Winston’s Market, a cheerful deli/café full of well-made treats to eat on the premises or take home, comes close to being that dream kitchen. What’ll it be—a little dish of roasted beets with goat cheese and almonds? A turkey and fig sandwich with caramelized onions? Maybe a salad—for $6.95, you can get one custom built to your specifications; add grilled meat or fish for a few bucks more (chicken is $3, salmon or skirt steak $5). Want quiche, or maybe some tasty chicken sausage bread pudding, heated up (not in a microwave)? No problem. From 3 to 6 p.m., about five entrée specials are available, including, recently, a terrifically juicy cheeseburger with fries ($6.50) and made-on-the-premises goat cheese ravioli with spicy red pepper sauce ($9). Carrot cake, brownies, and fancy ice-cream sandwiches make fine finishes; wine and beer round out the offerings. Take the kids and relax while someone else satisfies their every whim, for a change. 3440 N. Southport Ave.; 773-327-6400. –Joanne Trestrail




As the glittering centerpiece of the Palmer House Hilton’s $150-million restoration, Lockwood seeks to prove itself in the competitive hotel dining field—and do it with style. Executive chef Phillip Foss, who honed his skills with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and made his bones at New York’s legendary Le Cirque, has some tasty tricks up his sleeve for Lockwood. The “Surf, Turf and Turf,” a seared prime filet mignon with braised short ribs and butter-poached Maine lobster ($52), is an innovative spin on a classic menu staple. And pastry chef Fabrice Bouet’s sophisticated take on coffee and doughnuts is not to be missed. Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St.; 312-917-3404. –Sarah Desprat



Old Town Brasserie
Once upon a time in Chicago, elegant restaurants and chic cabarets dotted the landscape. But over time, some of the city’s sweetest rooms quietly disappeared. Bob Djahanguiri’s intimate Toulouse and Cognac Bar come to mind—the sister spots he closed in 2000. A few spins around the world later, Djahanguiri’s back with white tablecloths and chef Roland Liccioni (Les Nomades, Le Français). At his Old Town Brasserie, the genre we’ve been missing is just beyond the gleaming granite bar. Settle into a silk-lined banquette and save at least one warm baguette to sop up the garlic butter from your escargots. In Liccioni’s hands, slow-poached salmon is a work of art, and financier cake makes dessert worth the splurge. On weekends, the bar turns cabaret. Merci, Roland. Thanks, Bob. 1209 N. Wells St.; 312-943-3000. –Penny Pollack 

PhotograpH: Peter Wynn Thompson