When Rich Labriola, who founded the Labriola Baking Company in 1993, sold his namesake a little more than a year ago but kept the brand, he said he planned to expand Labriola’s storefront presence beyond just its café in Oak Brook. With Labriola Ristorante & Café (535 N. Michigan Ave., Streeterville, no phone yet), scheduled to open in November, he also plans to expand the concept and to bring on John Caputo, the esteemed former chef of Bin 36.
The tripartite Labriola combines a fast-casual café, a full-service restaurant, and a bar. Each of the three sections will hold about 100 seats. Although the address says Michigan Avenue, the front door will be around the corner on the walkway of Grand Avenue.
The café will sell baked-in-house goods such as croissants and pastries as well as breads baked at a central Labriola location. Coffee will come from Intelligentsia and doughnuts from the Labriola partner Stan’s Donuts. Gelati will be made in-house.
“The ristorante is more refined than the café,” Caputo says. “What I want to do is bring back some Italian classics, while modernizing and lightening them up a bit. To me, when Italian food goes too upscale, it becomes too French-feeling.” For example, a spaghetti carbonara might have house-made guanciale and no cream. A rotating lasagne dish could have lobster and corn one week and classic Bolognese the next.
The bar will offer an across-the-board selection of drinks, including craft beer, and customers can order food to eat at the bar.
Rich Labriola also has his own pizza place at 151 North Michigan Avenue in the works. After this three-parter, we’ll be expecting a farmer’s market, a cooking school, and a hydroponic farm there.