Burger at Maillard Tavern Photo: Courtesy of Maillard Tavern

Heads up, Piccolo Sogno—and burger—fans: Ace Italian food chef Tony Priolo has jumped on the comfort food train, announcing plans to open Maillard Tavern (494 N. Milwaukee Ave., River West) in December, just across the street from his famed, white-tableclothed first restaurant.

The chef (who co-owns both Piccolo Sogno and Nonnina with Ciro Longobardo) plans for a 1,400-square-foot, 40-seat fried food mecca, with griddled burgers, glazed doughnut sticks, and French fries. The latter are of the duck-fat variety and made from Norwis potatoes—a variety that was adapted by Frito-Lay for their potato chips. “That’s why those chips are so good; Norwis potatoes hold their crunch really well,” Priolo explains. Maillard's fries, which will accompany all burgers and sandwiches, strike the “not too skinny, not too fat” balance, he adds.

The menu comprises nine custom burgers, each featuring a pair of griddled, four-ounce patties. Priolo will simply season the meat with sea salt and pepper; brown it to impart a deep flavor; top it in combos such as pork rillette, bacon jam, and grain mustard (the Pork and Beef); and slap it onto a Turano Baking Company potato bun. A smattering of sandwiches, soup, and a token salad rounds out the menu.

Craft beers, cocktails, and wine on tap populate the drink menu; desserts include the aforementioned doughnuts, soft-serve ice cream, and uber-rich (spiked or not) milk shakes blended with vanilla ice cream and crème anglaise.

Burgers and shakes mark quite the departure for Priolo, but you’ll still catch a tiny glimpse of his Italian fare pedigree via a spiced wild boar ragù sandwich called the Sloppy Giuseppe.