Brand X-Tension

Eliminating an inherent irony, the underground and pop-up operation X-Marx is getting a spot. X-Marx’s owners, Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo, hope for a July opening of Flour and Bones (2957 W. Diversey Ave.; no phone yet), a 30-seat restaurant named for staples of everyday cuisine in different parts of the world—“flour” for noodles, breads, and dumplings, and “bones” for proteins and stocks. “We are hunkering down,” Conlon says. “We’re tired of the schlepping.” At the ten seats along the bar overlooking the open kitchen, Conlon and Lo plan to take reservations for omakase-style dining, where the chefs will serve a tasting menu of five, seven, or ten courses based on seasonality and whims, but the food will be Asian- and European-influenced American, rather than omakase’s usual cuisine, sushi. The 20 remaining seats, all at communal tables, will be first-come, first-served dining from an à la carte menu. “For the most part, [the menu] will revolve around noodle-based dishes,” Conlon says, citing a spicy Sichuan pepper beef that comes served over noodles, but can also fill a dipped sandwich, like an Italian beef. They plan to preview the menu at next Sunday’s Dose Market. Conlon says the atmosphere at Flour and Bones will be boisterous and convivial, with “rustic meets modern” decor. Great that X-Marx will now have a home where it will be right here waiting, just like that other Marx, Richard.


Names + Trends

The restaurant-naming trend that started with ampersands has morphed, where now two simple things connected by some kind of “and” suggest artisanal, farm-to-table philosophy. Joining Flour and Bones, immediately above, Flour + Wine (433 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn; 630-793-9955), a 135-seater specializing in Neapolitan pizzas, pasta dishes, and small plates, opens today in the west suburbs. “All about simplicity and keeping the flavors correct and clean,” says Michael Vai, a partner. The pizzas hew to the Neapolitan formula, with Caputo 00 flour and a wood-fired oven, and the chef/partner, Brian Goewey, studied with a pizzaiolo in California to learn the secrets of the dough. The pastas include classics such as carbonara and linguini with clams, and beef medallions with balsamic vinegar glaze, broccolini, and pesto vinaigrette exemplify the small plates. Vai describes the decor as “modern feel with a rustic warmth.” Apparently the subtext of Flour plus Something is Modern + Rustic.


And One More

And going beyond trend to the realm of eerie coincidence, another “anded” restaurant, Root & Vine (601 N. McClurg Ct.; no phone yet), is in the works for June in Streeterville. Fast-casual during the day and table-service at night, the local-focused spot will serve sandwiches, soups, salads, and french fries that customers can dress up at a condiment bar during the day. (Poutine hits the menu at night.) The owners expect the place to acquire a wine-bar vibe in the evening, with small plates, meats, and cheeses. Root & Vine will also make its own sodas. “You pick it and we mix it, like an old soda fountain kind of deal,” says Yale Cohen, a partner. Cohen says the interior renovation of the former Tutto Pronto space used a lot of woods and reclaimed materials. We think he means modern meets rustic.



“How can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?” —Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970), French general and statesman 


Signed, Celiac, Delivered

Just as eating vegetarian long ago grew out of red-headed stepchild status in dining, gluten-free is coming around. Case in point: Senza (2873 N. Broadway; 773-770-3527), a contemporary American restaurant named for the Italian word for “without,” is scheduled for a mid-July opening in east Lake View under the chef Noah Sandoval (Schwa, Spring, Green Zebra). “It will be totally gluten free, but you won’t notice it,” says Susan McMillan, an owner/partner. “If you don’t have a gluten problem, you won’t care.” In another intra-Dish coincidence, Senza will operate by counter service during the day and table service at night (and for weekend brunch). The breakfast menu will offer pastries, baked goods, and grab-and-go breakfasts such as a waffle cone filled with Greek yogurt, house-made honey-berry granola, and house-made lavender cream. Brunch includes an English muffin with duck rillettes, a soft-boiled egg, and tarragon hollandaise. “Gluten-free people who have experienced our English muffin cry,” McMillan says. “It’s a real English muffin.” Great for those with celiac disease—now what we’re really hoping for is a place where the desserts are actually good for you but you don’t notice.


Barking Up the Same Tree

Named for a dog that belongs to one of the three owners, the 50-seat northern Italian restaurant Nando Milano Trattoria (2114 W. Division St.; 773-486-2636) opened Monday in Wicker Park. Homemade pastas, risottos, and braised meats such as osso buco are featured on the menu, and a three-course prix fixe of salad or antipasti, pasta or risotto amarone, and dessert runs $34, at least for now. The partners, all Italian natives, are Alessandro Nalbone (the chef), Dario Vullo, and Dario’s brother, Alessio (the one with the dog). The Vullos come from a family with restaurants in Verona, Sicily, and Bologna—source of the Bolognese sauce at Nando—but Dario was the first to come to Chicago, working for Riccardo Michi (Riccardo Trattoria) before striking out on his own. And although it sounds like the kind of restaurant that wouldn’t be subject to trends, Dario described Nando’s decor like this: “Modern but with a rustic, romantic feeling.”


Updated Review: Wildfish

New restaurant reviews, updated to reflect critics’ recent visits, appear each month in Chicago magazine, in Dine, as well as on our website. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. Wildfish’s rating decreased from one and a half stars to one in the May issue, on newsstands now.

Wildfish (60 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights; 847-870-8260). Sushi/Japanese.
$$$ ($40–$49 per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)

The exhaustive—and exhausting—menu at this modern sushi spot is needlessly complicated, with endless bento boxes and tempura treats as well as an underperforming list of seafood and teriyaki entrées. The house’s sushi is its redemption. These are some of the biggest and most budget-friendly maki rolls around. Try the minty Jazz spring roll wrapped in soybean sheets or the over-the-top Red Alert roll with masago and scallions. Comfy booths in the back, equally suitable for families or couples.

For the dishes we liked best, click here.


On Twitter

Follow Pollack on Twitter.


Things to Do

1. Support Special Olympics Chicago at Sip and Savor, a night of philanthropic mingling and munching, with dishes provided by Kendal Duque (Chicago Firehouse), Chris Pandel (Balena), Ryan Poli (Tavernita), and Michael and Patrick Sheerin (Trenchermen), and brews from Three Floyds and Goose Island. The event will be held tomorrow from 6 to 9 p.m. at 1420 South Michigan Avenue. Tickets cost $50 in advance or $65 at the door.

2. Lunch at Chicago Q (1160 N. Dearborn St.; 312-642-1160), where $15 buys a three-course prix fixe meal weekdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. A sample meal consists of bacon-cheddar hushpuppies, a chopped brisket sandwich, and cinnamon ice cream. Each meal also includes a choice of fries, cornbread, or coleslaw, followed by a nap. 

3. Bolster your cocktail repertoire at Autre Monde (6727 W. Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn; 708-775-8122), where, on Saturday at noon, the restaurant’s mixologists will host a hands-on class covering bartending techniques and the spirits, syrups, and bitters du jour. The $25 fee also buys light bites from Autre Monde’s kitchen. Call the restaurant to reserve a spot.

4. Join Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar (3358 N. Paulina St.; 773-248-5222) in celebrating six years of brick-oven bliss on May 15, when the Lake View fixture dishes up $6 Margherita pizzas and $6 glasses of wine from 4:30 to 10 p.m.



  • Briciola (937 N. Damen Ave.; 773-772-0889), a northern Italian spot in Jams former home, is open.
  • The Monkey’s Paw (2524 N. Southport Ave.; 773-413-9314), a Lake View gastropub specializing in whiskey, is open.
  • Mercer 113 (113 W. Hubbard St.; 312-396-0113), a 6,300-square-foot upscale sports lounge from the owners of Moe’s Cantina, opens tomorrow. The decor consists of oak, marble bars, and “a lot of TV screens behind the bars,” says Roman Sanchez, one of the owners.
  • The Drinkingbird (2201 N. Clybourn Ave.; 773-472-9920), a cocktail lounge inspired by 1960s nostalgia and novelty, opens May 15.


Dot Dot Dot . . .

Team Dish salutes Chicago’s James Beard award winners: Bruce Sherman (North Pond), best chef, Great Lakes region; Charlie Trotter (Charlie Trotter’s), humanitarian of the year; Mindy Segal (HotChocolate), outstanding pastry chef; and Next, best new restaurant. Grant Achatz was also inducted into the list of “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.” . . . Mindy Segal’s big week continues when, after a two-week closure, she reopens HotChocolate tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. Updates include refreshed decor and new menu items. For the intriguing back story on what prompted the changes, read Time Out Chicago’s profile of Segal. . . . Time Out also reports that Tony Mantuano plans to open Piano Terra, an alfresco extension of Terzo Piano (his restaurant in the Art Institute’s Modern Wing) on May 25. . . . We raise a stein to Revolution Brewing and Haymarket Pub & Brewery for earning gold medals at last weekend’s World Beer Cup.