We might have lost the Olympics, but we can rejoice in some reopened favorites and new dining opportunites. Intrepid Chicagoland restaurateurs are forging ahead, despite the still-sluggish economy.
- Club Lago’s fans and returning staffers are celebrating the Wednesday, Oct. 7, grand reopening of the River North Italian mainstay. The restaurant has been shuttered since last March, when a boiler explosion toppled a 50-foot chimney onto its building and destroyed the second floor and kitchen beneath.
Third-generation owners GianCarlo and Guido Nardini have spent the past six months rebuilding the historic bar and restaurant, a neighborhood favorite since the brothers’ grandparents, Gus and Ida Lazzerini, opened the business in 1952. Renovations include a state-of-the art kitchen, renovated restrooms, flat screen televisions and tap beers in the bar. Fans can look forward to new dishes in addition to traditional Club Lago specialties like eggplant parmesan and house-made blue-cheese dressing.
- In another Oct. 7 reopening of sorts, Blind Faith Cafe’s owner, David Lipschutz, and chef, Jonadab Silva, reinvent the old Jacky’s Bistro in Evanston. Jacky’s on Prairie will combine the classic French traditions of former owner Jacky Pluton with Silva’s updated, globally inspired cuisine, Lipschutz says. A 150-label wine list features as well.
- Marcel Somfelean (The Grocery Bistro, Club Royale) is set to open Pasha Spanish Cuisine in the West Loop in November. The new tapas bar will offer Moorish dishes and traditional Jewish cuisine from Spain. Late-night live music will include light jazz, flamenco guitar and regular performances by Chicago’s own Bandoleros.
- Former Parisian Jovanis Bouargoub brings his restaurant experience in France and Italy to play in his newly opened Franco-Italian West Loop eatery, La Mediterranee. Chef Robert Ross is turning out dishes such as coquilles Saint-Jacques, veal carpaccio, penne puttanesca, chicken Vesuvio and saumon au citron for lunch and dinner. A daily prix-fixe menu is just $18.
- Chef Israel Ogin and Manager Maria Aguilar have launched Co-Si-Na Grill in Edgewater. The BYOB, open for lunch and dinner, offers Mexican flavors with a contemporary twist. Carne asada is a specialty. Also look for enchiladas, fajitas and several moles.