The more we learn about Sarah Grueneberg's new Italian spot Monteverde (1020 W. Madison St., West Loop, no phone yet), the less it sounds like her former home Spiaggia.
Originally set for a spring opening but pushed back to this fall, the cozy 95-seater will occupy a calm stretch of Madison two blocks south of West Loop's bustling Randolph Street. Where Grueneberg's former employer donned white table cloths and a jackets-only dress code, Monteverde boasts comfy armchairs and plentiful wood finish. "I want to make you feel like you're coming into my home," says the Top Chef alum of her Karen Herold–designed interior. "Being the huge Blackhawks fan that I am, I want people to come in for snacks, an app, pasta before the game."
To accomplish that, Grueneberg will focus on pasta ("an ultimate comfort food") and aim to capture Italy's piecey regionality. “Pasta in Sicily is very different from pasta in Venice," says Grueneberg, "and that’s what I want to bring to Chicago.” Concretely, that means a menu of new takes on Italian classics (cacio y pepe and bite-size cannelloni) and nods to Grueneberg’s own German-Texan heritage (fleischschnacka, an Alsatian lamb-stuffed noodle). Meals will run $35 each with a booze list anchored by global wines and desserts that skew frozen (homemade ice cream and sorbet are in the works). With that in mind, let's hope Monteverde's opening isn't bumped back another season.