Waiting for Moretti

Giovanni Denigris, the Puglia-born owner of Trattoria Trullo (4767 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-506-0093) and chef-partner at Macello (1235 W. Lake St.; 312-850-9870) is building a mini pizzeria in the front of Trullo. It’s expected to launch on December 10th; right now he’s waiting for his 900-degree Moretti Forni electric oven to arrive from Italy. “I have a pizza guy from Bari,” says Denigris. “I’m not going to say his name until he gets back from vacation. We are going to make Pugliese pizza. Neapolitan is more chewy. Our pizza is much thinner and crispier. . . . I grew up with Puglia. That’s why I created a Puglia restaurant with Puglia wine and Puglia cheese. Puglia olives. Puglia is my life.”


“I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly. Tuna fish casserole is at least as real as corporate stock.” –Barbara Grizzuti Harrison (1934-2002), American writer

Jesse’s Whirl

Jesse Doyle, the owner of Red Ivy in Lake View, plans to unveil 110 West (110 W. Hubbard St.), an 8,000-square-foot establishment with 110 beers and 110 cocktails, in February 2009. “The tap system will be the largest in Chicago,” says Doyle. “Fifty-five different beers on tap, 110 taps behind the bar. Two for each beer. We will have them on the menu by country. The food menu is being developed, but it’s going to be contemporary American with some eclectic variations.”

He Said It

“I’m closing November 2nd for three days. Doing a complete rehab. Going with richer colors. I bought all new china because I was just kind of sick of looking at all the stuff I was working with for 20 years. I bought it all from Jean Banchet. But I’ve gone more modern and contemporary in my presentations. I’m having more fun with the food and so are my customers. . . . I’ve put $15,000 into the wine list. Everyone is selling off things that they can’t afford to sit on any longer. We got some tremendous bargains that I’m passing along to my customers. Doing so well. This area seems to be more insulated from the recession.” –Michael Lachowicz, chef-owner of Restaurant Michael (64 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka; 847-441-3100)

Sounds Sweet . . . Eventually

Lou Sopcic, whose mother owns Sweet Dreams Organic Bakery & Café (1107 Waukegan Rd., Glenview; 847-657-1092), plans to open Sweet (2400 W. Madison St.), a tiny organic lunch spot/bakery in West Town . . . some time soon. “It’s a little hard to say when,” says Sopcic. “Winter is not the best time to open. If we can’t get it together in the next two months, we might have to wait until spring.” Votes, Not Veggies

North Pond (2610 N. Cannon Dr.; 773-477-5845) will close on election day. “It’s the most important election of our lifetime, poised to have great historical significance,” says Bruce Sherman, the chef-partner. “There are very important matters to consider that day [other than North Pond], including those relating to our food system. And as a father, it’s important to me that I have this experience with my daughters.” Well done, Bruce.

Bright Eyes

Rich Aronson has found a new location for My Pie, his 31-year-old Lincoln Park pizzeria that lost its lease in June: 1361 Shermer Road in Northbrook, next to the train station. “I looked for two years to find a new home in Lincoln Park but it was impossible,” says Aronson. “More than anything it was unreasonable landlords that I didn’t feel like getting into bed with. All the parking on Clark Street has been taken away and people couldn’t even get to the spot.” His new incarnation will open next spring, and it will change with the times. “The old 1970s version was the dark space with the fireplace, a little cavelike, like Geja’s and others that opened at that time,” says Aronson. “This will be light and bright.”

A Pound of Flesh

What once was a Hecky’s of Chicago franchisee is now Hickory’s BBQ, Salads, Wraps & More (1234 N. Halsted St.; 312-377-7427 [RIBS]). “We were here for four years as Hecky’s,” says Michael Koertgen, a partner. “We chose not to renew our license with Hecky. We have a different sauce altogether—a sweet smoky sauce with a light kick, made from scratch on site. We purchased a smoker and we smoke all of our meats on site with hickory wood. We have the real tender Chicago-style that falls off the bone, and the smoked, which are a little bit firm.” The 35-seat spot’s rack of beef ribs ($18) weighs in at three pounds. “The bones are big,” says Koertgen. “There’s probably a full pound of meat to the order.”

Things to Do

  1. Try the raisin rye bread at Bennison’s Bakery (1000 Davis St., Evanston; 847-328-9434), which the California Raisin Marketing Board (nope, we didn’t know, either) named the grand prize winner in the artisan category at the inaugural America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest.
  2. Peruse Metromix’s list of good places to watch the election returns on November 4th.
  3. Stuff your face with sushi at Tsuki (1441-1445 W. Fullerton Ave.; 773-883-8722) on a Wednesday night, when it’s all you can eat for $32.
  4. Watch this utterly surreal—and vaguely naughty—Japanese milk commercial.

Dot Dot Dot . . .

Lips Asian Bistro (3750 N. Southport Ave.; 773-248-5477), a Lake View Asian fusion spot, opened last month in the old Once Upon a Thai space. Same owners. . . . A new Potbelly Sandwich Works has opened at 2717 North Elston Avenue (773-489-2535). . . . Vella Cafe (1912 N. Western Ave.; 773-489-7777) will open for dinner three nights a week beginning November 12th. . . . The beer-centric Brick House Tavern + Tap (1461 Butterfield Rd., Downers Grove; 630-963-1104), which proudly calls itself a “man cave,” has opened. . . . As reported on Urbandaddy, Maxwell’s at The Club (East Bank Club, 500 N. Kingsbury St.; 312-527-5800, ext. 301), the revamped—and suddenly public—contemporary restaurant in Chicago’s most hallowed fitness club, has unveiled.