Aqua Man and His Wife

Pelago Ristorante (Raffaello Hotel, 201 E. Delaware Pl.; 312-280-0700), a 60-seat spot slated for a Streeterville boutique hotel, sounds like quite an upscale production. Italian porcelain chandeliers, white leather chairs, a mother-of-pearl fireplace, an aqua vestibule, aqua blue damask banquettes, and three meals a day from Mauro Mafrici (Manhattan’s Lo Scalco), a Trieste native plucked from obscurity by Lidia Bastianich in 1990s Rome. “Mauro’s mother is from northern Italy, and his father from southern,” says Kimberly Anguil Mafrici, his partner and wife—and the space’s architect. “So he’s taking advantage of all that Italy has to offer.” Expect a creative menu and homemade pasta such as ravioli with Dover sole and caviar—and a splashy opening in September.


“Hollywood, to hear some writers tell it, is the place where they take an author’s steak tartare and make cheeseburger out of it.” –Fletcher Knebel (1911-1993), American author

For Pete’s Sake

Pete Balodimas, who talked a big game when he started at Quince at the Homestead (1625 Hinman Ave., Evanston; 847-570-8400) four months ago, plans to leave at the beginning of September to follow his girlfriend to Phoenix. His replacement will be announced soon. While we applaud anyone who follows his heart, we couldn’t help but notice Balodimas’s ridiculous parting line in the press release: “I hope to make as big an impact on the culinary scene in Phoenix as I feel I have in Chicago.” Gee, we hope so, too, Pete.

Breakfast Grub

Tangerine (47 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville; 630-717-7227), a 140-seat contemporary breakfast spot, last month in downtown Naperville. “We have a lot of natural ingredients on the menu,” says the owner, Sam Papageorge. “A sample would be the Tangerine eggs on toast [$9], which is a thick slice of rustic Italian bread layered with a thick-cut bacon and served with over easy-eggs, natural fresh-cut rustic potatoes, chili flakes, and a special garlic/herb sauce.” The place serves breakfast all day, which means you won’t feel sheepish ordering fresh-squeezed orange juice after noon.

4 Questions for Jane Jasnak

Jasnak is a partner at Castel Gandolfo (800 N. Dearborn St.; 312-787-2211), a new 53-seat Neapolitan pizzeria with a 25-ton hand-made coal/wood oven that reaches 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

D: What is your connection to Bobak Sausage [5275 S. Archer Ave.; 773-735-5334]?
JJ: My parents started Bobak. They no longer own it. The first time they ever made any sausage here in America was for my christening in 1967. For me and my twin brother. And everyone loved it. I grew up in the business.

D: Why pizza now?
JJ: I’ve always wanted a little quaint restaurant that I could run. My husband and I have two other fast food places that have nothing to do with pizza. They are called J J Sausage [in Evergreen Park and Dalton]. My husband and brother-in-law make the Italian sausage for Castel at this location.

D: How did you learn to make the pizza crust?
JJ: From my mom. Been making the pizzas at home for the past half year or so. Perfecting it. I’ve been to Italy and that’s when I had pizza similar to this. I’m a Chicagoan, so you know, that’s the first time I had fresh mozzarella on pizza.

D: What’s the significance of the name?
JJ: We had a private mass with Pope John Paul II in Castel Gandolfo [a small town in the Italian region of Lazio] in 2000. We knew a priest, a friend of ours who went with us. We didn’t even know we were going to have a private mass. The doors swung open and there he was.

Note: Pollack recently checked out Castel Gandolfo, skeptical that decent Neapolitan pizzas could exist in a doomed spot that will forever look like an adobe house. But the crust was just right: thin, tender-chewy; a few burn marks on the bottom. Zingy toppings, too (loved the sausage and extra crushed tomato sauce). She stands corrected.

A Sweet Goodbye

You probably heard that Aigre Doux (230 W. Kinzie St.) closed suddenly—the news took us by surprise as well. Chefs/spouses Malika Ameen and Mohammad Islam plan to spend time with their family, and Ameen will do custom pastry orders (chocolate s’mores cake, red velvet cake, sticky toffee pudding, et cetera). To order something, send Ameen an e-mail


Things to Do

  1. Have a lovely Wednesday evening on the new screened-in veranda at Public Landing (200 W. 8th St., Lockport; 815-838-6500), when $10 buys you a bunch of wine tastes and appetizers.
  2. If Lockport is too far, check out Birchwood Kitchen (2211 W. North Ave.; 773-276-2100) on a Wednesday night, when the artisan burgers are buy-one, get-one-free. Take a six-pack of beer—no corkage—and make a night of it on the patio.
  3. Go to Red Mango (2806 N. Clark St.; 773-296-6304) between 4 and 7 p.m. on August 8th and get a free small yogurt with one topping to celebrate the fro-yo’s first city location.
  4. Get two courses (salad, pasta) for $5 at any Francesca’s restaurant tonight (August 5th), simply by saying, “Deal of the Day.” For the location closest to you, click here.

Dot Dot Dot . . .

Stephanie Izard (formerly of Scylla) has announced, via Twitter, the address of her upcoming restaurant, The Drunken Goat: 809-813 West Randolph Street. . . . the South Loop store of Sam’s Wines & Spirits (50 E. Roosevelt Rd.; 312-663-9463) plans to shut its doors after this weekend, per Crain’s Chicago Business . . . . Elaina Vazquez, a veteran of Tru and Avenues—and a Chicago native—has launched a promising upscale catering company, Boutique Bites (2424 W. Division St.; 773-252-3035). . . . Another location of Meatheads, an Illinois-based burger chain with outposts in Naperville and Bloomington, has opened in Northbrook (1036 Willow Rd., Suite H; 847-291-6608). . . . Yak-Zies Bar and Grill (3710 N. Clark St.; 773-525-9200) has remodeled and reopened in Wrigleyville. . . . Vermilion (10 W. Hubbard St.; 312-527-4060) will offer a three-course, $22 “street Indian” prix fixe meal for lunch and dinner from August 10th to 16th. . . . Is anyone else sick of this yet, despite the fact that it hasn’t even been released yet?