Some kids play veterinarian. Some kids play doctor. Mark Newman, a proud son of Highland Park, says, “Since I was six years old, I wanted to have a restaurant.” Starting in October, or possibly earlier, Newman and his childhood friend from three doors down the block, Josh Kaplan, will have Ballaro (214 Green Bay Rd., Highwood), a 120-seat contemporary Italian restaurant.
Newman lived in Italy for about four months, and during his last month there, he toured Sicily and stopped in at the open-air market in every town. “The one in Palermo was just gorgeous,” he says. “You could walk through it for days and not see everything.” He named Ballaro after it. Back at home, Newman collected Italian-restaurant experience working as a sous chef with Todd Stein, another lifelong friend, jumping from Cibo Matto to The Florentine to Piccolo Sogno Due.
Ballaro will serve handmade pasta, Neapolitan pizza, and entrées like rainbow trout with baked apple, fried Brussels sprout leaves, creamy polenta, and Marsala wine sauce. Prices will top out somewhere around $30, for a 16-ounce Delmonico steak with potatoes and a watercress salad. All unlike our dream restaurant at age six, which only served seventeen-scoop ice-cream sundaes.