He Said It

“The name is something that I came up with. All the names that were on the table were missing the mark. Think about it. Restaurant MW. That’s just not exciting, is it?” –Tony Mantuano on Terzo Piano (159 E. Monroe Dr.), his upcoming restaurant on the third (terzo) floor of the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute designed by Renzo Piano (scheduled to open May 16th)

New Restaurant Alert

Amelia’s Bar & Grill (4559 S. Halsted St.; 773-538-8200), a 92-seat Back of the Yards BYO, is the “fine Mexican/Mediterranean” spin of Amelia’s, formerly a straight-up taco place. It’s got Eusevio Garcia (formerly of MK and Mundial) and Leticia Zenteno (Boka, Topaz) as chef and pastry chef, and they’re not messing around back there. Dishes include Atlantic salmon with caramelized green papaya, mangos, and a little avocado and crème fraîche ($19), and a tamal judio ($7). “You cure corn with hash, like bacon powder, overnight,” says Garcia. “Then boil it until all the peel comes off and then you grind it into a masa, season with salt and pepper, and lay it into a banana leaf, with spicy black bean purée. I steam it and serve it with green pumpkin mole and shredded chicken.”

Jean Joho Tells Us Who’s Boss

Last week, we asked which big-name chef would be the next to plot a downscale concept, and jokingly suggested Everest’s Jean Joho could do a croque-monsieur stand. Joho pointed out that he already had. “I opened the Corner Bakery years ago. It’s passé for me. We have it already available at Brasserie [Jo]. Or if you want a croque-monsieur with foie gras, come to Everest.” We stand corrected. And amused.  

5 Questions for Michael Kornick

Kornick, the owner of MK (868 N. Franklin St.; 312-482-9179), last week announced his intention to kick-start his own burger empire, DMK Burger Bar, starting with a 50-seat spot in the 2900 North block of Sheffield.

D: You’re a three-star chef. Why burgers? Why now?
MK: I started in 2002. I trademarked a name and set up a business plan. Then mad cow and E. coli came along. Then rents were at an all-time high for storefront places. . . . Now I have time to work on this. Every major city has five or ten places that specialize in burgers. We really don’t have that.

D: Who is the D in the name?
MK: David Morton, Arnie’s [Morton’s Steakhouse] youngest son. David is my neighbor in Evanston. He came over for a barbecue and I was grilling burgers. He said, “I’m really interested in opening a burger place.”  

D: What can you tell us about the burgers?
MK: We are doing Tallgrass Beef bison. Artisan cheese. And our whole deal is a balanced portion size. There is an interest from women and people who are making better dietary decisions and want burgers but don’t want to cut them in half. They don’t want it too big to pick up. They don’t want the doggy bag.

D: And the layout?
MK: It’s 2,500 square feet, with a burger bar in the center. A bar that serves burgers. It will have an adult ambiance, an audio-visual component, and you’ll know we care about music. Kuma’s Corner is the best defined concept around for burgers in Chicago.  

D: Is this the first of many?
MK: I want to do six places in Chicago in two and a half years. I would like to see it adjacent to busy places: airports, train stations, sports stadiums.  

My Menu in 94 Words

“We are doing a grilled baby octopus with string beans. We are doing a scallop dish inside the scallop shell with oyster mushrooms and fennel. We are making a spinach gnocchi called strozzapreti with a Gorgonzola cream sauce with walnuts. But my favorite is a traditional dish from Livorno by the sea: cacciucco livornese. It’s a fish stew of clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, tuna, and lobster, all done in a spicy broth with plum tomato, red onion, white wine, and red chili flakes. We serve it with some grilled toasted bread to soak up the juice.” –Luca Corazzina, the new executive chef at 312 Chicago (136 N. LaSalle St.; 312-696-2420), on his menu.  


“Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive.” –George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish playwright

Tomato, Tomahto

Angelo Pyroulis, the owner of the two-month-old Morgan’s Char House (27 W. 150 Roosevelt Rd., Winfield; 630-588-0500), is quick to correct us when we call his 300-seat spot a steak house. “It’s a char house, yes,” he says. “The difference is, it’s more of a fun casual, moderately priced place with no dress code.” The woodsy, mahogany-toned space specializes in a 24-ounce Chicago cut rib eye and a 22-ounce Kansas City strip (“all certified Black Angus, aged at least 28 days,” says Pyroulis, who also owns Yanni’s in Arlington Heights), and the “individual” homemade apple pie actually serves three people.

Cheap Things to Do

  1. Pay only $5 for dine-in pizza at Antico Posto (118 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook; 630-586-9200) on Monday nights after 4 p.m. Kids aged 12 and under get an even better deal: Any night of the week, their pizza comes with a beverage and hot fudge sundae for $5.50.
  2. Try one of Jimmy Sneed’s “finally famous” crab cake appetizers at SugarToad (Hotel Arista, 2139 CityGate Lane, Naperville; 630-778-8623) for just $1, with an entrée, any Monday from now through April. Consider this: It’s normally $14.
  3. Gasp in disbelief at the $29.50 per person three-course family-style option at Restaurant Michael (64 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka; 847-441-3100)—then order it (Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday only; the whole table must participate; does not include wine, tax, or tip).

Dot Dot Dot . . .

Rich Melman is planning The Block, a Foodlife-esque concept (i.e., food stations) coming this fall in suite 300 at Block 37. . . . Taste of Brasil (906 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park; 708-383-3550), a tiny Brazilian snack joint where everything is homemade, opened March 12th. . . . Loopsters, rejoice: Shikago (190 S. LaSalle St.; 312-781-7300) has finally reopened for dinner with Kenju Horikoshi (Yanase) in charge of the sushi. . . . Aigre Doux (230 W. Kinzie St.; 312-329-9400) launched a low-priced bar menu; crispy veal sweetbreads with a snow pea salad for $10 sounds like a yummy snack to us. . . . In honor of its 20th anniversary, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago (120 E. Delaware Pl.; 312-649-2349) extended Seasons’ restaurant week three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus through the end of March ($22 and $32 respectively).