Lorraine Rieff-Liakouras and Alan Lake (formerly consulting chef of the now-shuttered Pensiero) are renovating the Parthenon’s old Greektown banquet room (310 S. Halsted St.) into a casually elegant bar, lounge, and 60-seat dining room, opening just three blocks from UIC in late January.
Aiming to be a modern take on Mediterranean fare and atmosphere, Aviva will shy away from Italian checkered tablecloth kitsch with bare, polished stainless steel and white subway tile accents. Lake says he’s looking to keep absinthe as a staple in their craft cocktails, served with appetizers such as shrimp de jonghe and Vesuvio wings—“Chicago-centric dishes with a little twist,” as he puts it. Main courses will be an array of seasonal meats and market-driven vegetables grilled on a flat-top plancha.
Despite experimentation, Aviva will keep a few Greek dishes in the canon: yiayia’s garbanzo beans, a spanakopita, and locally sourced lamb, for instance. Expect lemon ricotta cheesecake with minted fruit and bittersweet chocolate genoise for dessert, but not for too long—like the entrées, these too will change with the seasons.
In case you’re wondering about the Parthenon connection, Rieff-Liakouras’s husband owns the Greektown classic. On the other hand, she owns the building her new spot is in. Sounds like they both have something to fall back on.