To Be Perfectly Frank

Alexander Brunacci kept the opening of Lincoln Park’s new Franks ’N’ Dawgs (1863 N. Clybourn Ave.; 312-281-5187) quiet, despite having some serious coattails to ride—his brother, Frank, is the chef at Sixteen, the Trump tower restaurant. “Frank knows I wish I had his talent,” Alexander says. As for the soft opening, he wanted to make sure that the kitchen was up to snuff. Frank’s wife, Lillian, is responsible for Franks ’N’ Dawgs’ kitchen with the chef Joe Doren, a veteran of Blackbird and Sixteen. The menu ranges from a classic chili dog to the type of gourmet sausage previously seen only at Hot Doug’s; for example, the Tur-Dawgen: turkey-date sausage, duck confit, garlic aïoli, house-pickled onion relish, and pickled carrots. Frank is not an owner, but his influence isn’t totally absent. Each month a different celebrity chef creates a sausage for the menu. Phillip Foss of Lockwood was first, with a pork loin sausage topped by bacon, a fried egg, and maple mayonnaise. Seems like a place worth trying before the line gets as long as it is at Doug’s. (In fact, Pollack is already smitten with FND’s chicken caesar haute dawg. “Think chicken sausage, romaine lettuce, caesar mayo, black garlic, and buttery croutons piled into a terrific French-style bun,” she says.)


“I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” –George H. W. Bush (1924- )

Shout Outs

Congrats to all of Chicago’s 2010 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees:
Outstanding Pastry Chef—Mindy Segal (HotChocolate)
Outstanding Restaurant—Spiaggia
Outstanding Restaurateur—Richard Melman (Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises)
Outstanding Service—Alinea
Best Chef/Great Lakes (four nominees)—Michael Carlson (Schwa), Koren Grieveson (Avec), Arun Sampanthavivat (Arun’s), and Bruce Sherman (North Pond)

And let’s not forget Terra Brockman, Chicago Green Award winner (April 2010 issue), who scored a James Beard Foundation Book Award nom (Writing and Literature) for The Seasons on Henry’s Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm (Agate Surrey).  

Expansion Draft

Michael Roper, the owner of Hopleaf (5148 N. Clark St.; 773-334-9851), has changed his plans for the former La Donna space next door (5146 N. Clark St.). Originally, Roper intended to open a new charcuterie and wine place, but now the plan is to enlarge Hopleaf by 120 seats—nearly doubling the capacity. “[This] brings our expansions to an end since I have no plans or interest in other ventures or new locations,” Roper wrote Dish in an e-mail. “There will be only one Hopleaf.” Several new attractions come along with the build-out, including eight stools with a view of the kitchen, a wood-fired grill, and, showing that Roper hasn’t lost sight of Hopleaf’s essence, at least 20 new lines for draft beer.

No Bull

Sam Karatas spent three years as a manager for Hilton International and 14 years managing the food-and-beverage stands and the retail facilities at the United Center. Now he owns Laurel Mediterranean Grill (1163 E. Ogden Ave., Naperville; 630-946-6656), a new Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese restaurant in the western suburbs. Culinarily distant from concession-stand nachos and hot dogs, Karatas’s place sells Greek sea bass, lamb shank with eggplant purée, and Adana kebab (Adana is the Turkish city where the pepper in the rub comes from). “The restaurant is based on all homemade food, and it’s all fresh,” Karatas says. “We do not have a freezer. I put ice cream on the menu, and I forgot that I don’t have a freezer. I had to take it off.”

The Five Ws and One H About Cloud 9

  • Who is running Cloud 9? Kenny Tsai, a 24-year-old University of Illinois grad with parents from Taiwan
  • What will it be? The first place in Chicago to serve snow ice, Taiwan’s take on frozen treats like ice cream or gelato
  • When will it open? Tsai says end of April to early May.
  • Where is it? 604 West Belmont Avenue
  • Why is it called Cloud 9? “Clouds are very fluffy and airy, and that’s what our product is,” Tsai says.
  • How is snow ice made? “It’s a mix between shaved ice and ice cream,” Tsai says. “Creamier [than ice], like ice cream, but it’s in a big block that gets shaved off.” Each block contains two pounds of fruit and enough ice for 15 regular-size servings. Purées and fresh fruit will be available as toppings.

Spitting Distance

When an Italian restaurant takes over the space of a former barbecue joint, what happens to the giant barbecue pit in the kitchen? It stays, according to Joseph Milano Jr., owner of the forthcoming Milano’s Ristorante Italiano & Banquets (40 W. 188 Campton Crossing, Campton Hills; no phone yet), a far west suburban red-sauce place Milano hopes will open May 1st. “I’m going to have a pig roast. A steer roast with Black Angus steer. Antelope. Lamb. Do a whole animal,” he says. (Yes, he really said antelope.) Milano’s will also feature homemade sausage and meatballs and family recipes from Joe’s parents, including Fannie’s baked vitello: his mother’s recipe for breaded veal with peas, onions, and tomatoes. But with a whole antelope turning on the spit, why would you order veal?

Hiya, Izakaya

We smell trend. Another izakaya is in the offing, this one in Lake View. The chef and owner, Harold Jurado (Sunda, Japonais), with the general manager, Orville Diaz (Sunda, Maggiano’s, Big Bowl), aim to open Chizakaya (3056 N. Lincoln Ave.; no phone yet) in June. Part of the izakaya enthusiasm seems to be sushi backlash: “We’re not doing sushi but very traditional Japanese food—ramen, udon, sobas, yakitori,” Diaz says. We’ve come a long way since the days when sushi backlash meant people skeeving about eating raw fish.

Things to Do

  1. Live it up at Carlos’ (429 Temple Ave., Highland Park; 847-432-0770), where every night is now prix fixe night: three courses, $40. (Closed Tuesdays)
  2. Marvel at a cooking demonstration by Takashi Yagihashi at the Bloomingdale’s Home & Furniture Store (4 Oakbrook Center) on March 27th at 1 p.m.
  3. Eat and listen on Sunday March 28th at 2 p.m. at Riccardo Trattoria (2119 N. Clark St.; 773-549-0038), when $64 buys a family-style dinner with wine pairings, accompanied by a tenor singing Italian opera selections. Maybe Riccardo will let you sing for your supper.

Dot Dot Dot . . .

Sable Kitchen & Bar (505 N. State St.; 312-755-9704) opens for dinner tonight. Lunch service starts April 7th and brunch April 11th. . . . Chicago Bagel Authority (953 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-248-9606) hopes to open a second location near Belmont and Sheffield sometime this year. . . . Crain’s Chicago Business reports that two more steak places are coming to River North: locally owned Chicago Cut Steakhouse (300 N. LaSalle St.; no phone yet) and the West Coast hot spot Mastro’s (520 N. Dearborn St.; no phone yet). . . . Piccolo Sogno (464 N. Halsted St.; 312-421-0077) hosts a Passover seder March 30th, for $75. The meal will be kosher-style with Italian touches, but Picciolo will serve matzo ball soup, tzimmis, and matzos baked for 18 minutes, according to tradition. A rabbi will conduct the full service. . . . Your favorite foodie newsletter (that’s this one, smart guy) is taking next week off. Dish will be back in your in box and in the blog feed on April 7th with two weeks’ worth of dining news.