A storm of new openings has blown into the Windy City within the last year, and ever-trendy website Thrillist introduced us to six of the hottest at a 1920s-themed "Wayback Ball" recently at the also-newish Radisson Blu Hotel. Here's the lowdown on these latest locales and what they showcased at the swank soiree:
A hand-rolled mozzarella with summer squash and charred tropea onion marmellata highlighted Bar Toma's big draw: a mozzarella bar, where curd-cravers can taste everything from a whole, melty burrata to creamy, smoked slices garnished with lardo pesto. The 20 varieties of pizza also pack this casual, sprawling Gold Coaster from local legend Tony Mantuano.
Two classic dishes—an heirloom tomato caprese salad and baby shrimp and scallion risotto—drive home that despite a high design within the wavy Aqua tower, the fare at Filini is tried-and-true traditional. Chef Christian Fantoni, himself an import from Bergamo, Italy, wouldn't have it any other way.
The owners describe Lakeshore East newcomer Maison as an "urbane French home," and their herb rabbit pate on toasted brioche with tomato marmalade certainly signals authentically Gallic flavors. With its giant picture windows, it's the spot to sit and ponder the neighborhood's pretty parks over steak tartare or moules frites. A nightly half-price raw bar after 10 pm has won regulars out of many locals.
While not new (Markethouse opened in 2009), what is novel about this famed farm-to-tabler is the availability of house-made charcuterie like luscious lobster and truffle sausage with tarragon mustard and celery root slaw. A unique build-your-own sausage program allows customers to choose their own protein, style, and add-ins along with creative housemade mustards (try the violet and heirloom squash flavors).
The signature barramundi with albacore tuna dumpling, marcona almond butter, mustard and miso "suds" is just as artful as Storefront Company's iconic 34-foot Gary Weidner mural. Sleek, black-and-white tones bring modern elegance to a pocket of Wicker Park, and the cuisine, by 2003 Food & Wine best new chef Brian Moscatello, defines "accessibly chic."
The newest kid on the block, Untitled, is a throwback speakeasy inspired by the Jazz Age. Inside sexy dining cabanas, guests sip craft cocktails like the Bitter Bonnie, a blend of tequila, grapefruit, Campari, lime and sparkling moscato, served in old-fashioned coupes, of course. Bites like grit cakes with tomato jam and lemon zest get the appetite roaring as chocolate-bourbon duck play on the boozy theme. Live entertainment and a whiskey library for members will make the supperclub the new hotspot for holiday parties.
Photo credits: Wayback Ball: Bar Toma, Markethouse, and Maison Brasserie all courtesy of Kat Goduco