This week in Italian cuisine, old habits die hard: Less than a year into a now-abridged retirement, chef Giovanni DeNigris (Macello, Trattoria Trullo) is opening Osteria Trulli (1510 E. Hintz Road, no phone yet) in Arlington Heights.
Inspired by a trip to his native Puglia and some serious post-career jitters, DeNigris’s new restaurant is a by-the-books passion project. “I don’t need money,” says the chef of his 50-seat venture, which will open in the 2,000-square-foot former Bapi space by the end of October. “I need to get back in the kitchen. I’m at home and I feel like I’m in jail. The food of Puglia is my passion, my love.”
Accordingly, Osteria Trulli will focus on Pugliese home-cooking right down to the wood oven. An early rundown of ingredients includes garlic, onions, Swiss chard, rapini, French green beans, “lotsa, lotsa seafood,” and a huge selection of crudo (raw sea-dwellers from octopi to mussels). Most notable is a relative lack of pizza—a staple at DeNigris’s former homes—but the chef says he’ll have one or two available as an appetizer. “And if some kids want pizza, I’m gonna make it. But I am [an] osteria.”
Aside from a low-pizza menu, it’ll be business as usual at DiNigris’s new shop, including a staff culled entirely from his old restaurants. As the chef himself puts it: “Giovanni is back.”
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