Terra Incognita

After service Saturday night, the Lincoln Park location of Terragusto will enter the dressing room and reemerge May 18 as Pastaterra (340 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-281-7200). “It’s going to be a little pasta place,” says Theo Gilbert, the owner. “Thirteen is an auspicious number in Italian culture, so we have 13 pastas, all made here.” Customers will order at the counter, and servers will deliver pastas to tables. Wine will be available. Interesting choice on the name, to keep the “terra” part. If Gilbert ever does a French place, we suggest Terre Haute.  



“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.” —Voltaire (1694–1778), French writer and thinker


And Speaking of Voltaire

The old Bar Louie in River North has a new tenant with a French accent: Bistro Voltaire (226 W. Chicago Ave.; no phone yet). We made the acquaintance of the chef and got enough details to whet our appetite.

The French brasserie Bistro Voltaire nabbed prime real estate near the Chicago Avenue Brown Line stop. The 50-seat space has wood paneling, a black-and-white tile floor, red leather banquettes, and a tin ceiling, evoking the look of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. The walls show images of writers from France and Chicago. The chef, Claudine Hubert, previewed some menu items for us. “It will be classic,” she says. “Very old, traditional recipes.”
• Whole Camembert cheese baked in its box with Calvados.
• Filet de boeuf en croûte, with duxelles foie gras and Cognac sauce.
• Country pâté with green peppercorns.
• Mussels in several styles, including provençale, Roquefort, saffron, and marinière.
• Poulet supreme de volaille with zucchini and lemon confit.
• Confit de canard. “It will be coming with fresh potatoes cooked in the grease of the canard. With mesclun salad,” Hubert says.
• Crème brûlée with bergamot.
One thing you won’t see on the menu: steak frites. “Steak frites is the fast-food French food dish. We do not want to do fast-food French,” Hubert says.

Bistro Voltaire is scheduled to open June 3 at 6:30 p.m. with a meet-and-greet event featuring Chicago authors, including Wendy McClure (The Wilder Life), Charles Blackstone (The Week You Weren’t Here), and Cris Mazza (How to Leave a Country). The event will have a cash bar and free appetizers.


Say Cheese

Aaron Schwartz, business partner of Chris Johnston at Cheesie’s Pub & Grub (958 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-388-1574), is only 26, but he’s an 11-year veteran of food service. “Since I was 15, I worked for the Greek side of my family in the restaurant chain called Zippy’s,” he says. Schwartz and Johnston took over the space that housed a Mexican joint called Tradición and soft-opened Cheesie’s, a bar and restaurant that specializes in grilled cheese and craft beer (including Gumballhead)—and stays open till 5 a.m. on weekends. Grand opening is tomorrow. The grilled cheeses are served on Turano bread, in varieties such as chorizo–Chihuahua cheese–jalapeño. Sides include an item called Mom’s Potato Salad. “It’s literally Chris’s mom’s potato salad recipe,” Schwartz says.


Dose and Don’ts

A monthly food-and-fashion-boutique market called Dose Market debuts June 5 at the River East Art Center (435 E. Illinois St.; 312-321-1001). The women in charge of the food aspect, Heather Sperling of Tasting Table and Emily Fiffer of Daily Candy, explain what Dose does and doesn’t do.
The food comes from small, innovative local producers, such as Rare Bird Preserves, Jo Snow Syrups, and Snookelfritz.
Sperling: We’re trying to think about people who are doing great things but are only known by a small segment of the population. [For example,] Steve Stallard owns Blis Gourmet, in Michigan. He is the first chef whom Grant [Achatz] worked for. He now makes phenomenal, beautiful bourbon-barrel maple syrup. After it comes out of the barrels, he puts in Spanish sherry vinegar. The resulting aged vinegars and syrups are some of the most sublime and beautiful versions. He also makes fantastic spice mixes.

Even the placement of vendors is deliberate.
Fiffer: We’re trying to pair people who are sharing tables [according to their products], like Crop to Cup [coffee] with Jo Snow. Or like Chicago Honey Co-op with Great American Cheese Collection. Rare Bird will be sharing a table with Crumb [Bakery]. Sample the jam on bread.
There’s a door charge—$8 in advance, $10 at the entrance.
Fiffer: The door charge is our main source of revenue that enables us to create the market. It helps to cover the costs of space rental, insurance, staff, and all the logistics that the market requires. The door is how we’re going to make the money it takes to make this thing happen every month, hopefully for many years to come.
The market is designed to showcase talented, underrepresented vendors, many of whom don’t have a full-time storefront. Dose Market is now scheduled to be open one Sunday a month.
Sperling: The pop-up character of this is what differentiates us from the French Market. My total fantasy would be to make something akin to New York’s [weekly] New Amsterdam market. That’s way down the line. This is a step in a good direction for Chicago to have a year-round market, the likes of which it hasn’t seen before.


Fresh Cut Flours

Randolph Street has been a dining-news nexus in the past year, with openings (Girl & the Goat, Maude’s Liquor Bar, Haymarket), closings (Red Light), and project announcements (The Little Goat). The story now is Nellcôte (833 W. Randolph St.; no phone yet), the previously unnamed venture by Jared Van Camp (Old Town Social). The restaurant is named for Villa Nellcôte, the mansion on the Côte d’Azur where the Rolling Stones threw a notorious house party that somehow spawned the album Exile on Main Street. “Over-the-top luxury without pretense” is how a spokeswoman describes the look. “There will be white Italian marble, wrought-iron gates, [and] cartouche crown molding, but also irreverent accents like bohemian pop art,” she says. The menu will feature a changing-daily lineup of house-made foods using local ingredients, including pizzas and pastas made with house-milled 00 flour. The flour mill is a 9-by-11-foot leviathan that the kitchen was built around, and the finely milled flour will be available for retail sale. Van Camp is targeting November or December for opening.


On Twitter

• You’d better get your canelés from Floriole Cafe & Bakery before Pollack cleans them out.

• Pollack silences a Twittersphere rumor that West Town Tavern would be sold.

• For Pollack, a trip to Steppenwolf or the Royal George also means a trip to Sono Wood Fired.

Follow Pollack on Twitter.


On the Blog

• Team Dish has a ball chatting with Phillip Foss about his newest venture, El.


Things to Do

1. Zoom over to Johnny Rockets (177 N. State St., 312-931-3354; 30 N. LaSalle St., 312-629-2522; 623 E. Boughton Rd., Bolingbrook, 630-783-9250; 2835 Showplace Dr., Naperville, 630-428-8525) on May 18, where they’re pouring 99-cent shakes all day in honor of their 25th anniversary.

2. Catch a glimpse of newcomer Tokio Pub (1900 E. Higgins Rd., Schaumburg; 847-517-2722) on May 14 from 8 to 11 p.m., when the izakaya-style spot hosts a preview party (the official opening date is May 19) benefiting the Red Cross’s Japan earthquake relief. RSVP via Facebook.

3. Peruse—and sample—the handiwork of local food entrepreneurs like Sweet Margy and GrownUp KidStuff at the North Shore Spring Artisan Food Market (Now We’re Cookin’, 1601 Payne St., Evanston; 847-570-4140) Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Entrance fee is $10.


Dot Dot Dot . . .

Dish raises a glass to Chicago’s James Beard Foundation award winners. Richard Melman was recognized with the Outstanding Restaurateur Award for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, and Michael Gebert and Julia Thiel of The Chicago Reader nabbed Multimedia Food Feature honors. . . . The fiesta is under way at Cantina 46 (46 E. Superior St.; 312-664-0100), a tequila-crazed Mexican restaurant in River North that opened today. . . . Down the way at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar (230 W. Erie St.; 312-662-4888), they fired up the robata grill and opened yesterday. . . . As reported by Eater Chicago, wallet-friendly Vietnamese sandwich shop Bun Mi Express (3409 N. Broadway; 773-661-2228) is set to open in Lake View on June 5. . . . Brothers Beef (723 W. Armitage Ave.; 312-265-0484) is now open, beefing up Lincoln Parkers with franks, sandwiches, and salads. . . . Pazzi di Pizza (105 S. York Rd., Elmhurst; 630-279-2323), a wood-fired pizza spot with a name that translates to “crazy for pizza,” will open in about a week. . . . Zberry (1368 1/2 E. 53rd St.; 773-855-8754), a frozen-yogurt spot that opened April 1 in Hyde Park, sells its yogurt and toppings—including a lemon drizzle that hardens into a lemon-chocolate shell—by weight for 45 cents an ounce. “You know there are never enough sprinkles,” says Zenzilé Powell, the owner.