Story goes that a bit of Chicago's much exploited mobster past ran a bootlegging rig out of this deep South Loop warehouse, discovered when the building was being renovated for the Jerry Kleiner venture Room 21. So it makes sense that team Kleiner (Marche
) would go the way of Italian, albeit again (Gioco
), with this new facelift, translated simply as "Street 21."
Once drenched in red-light district pink velvet and tasseled lampshades to match the prohibition-meets-sexy American contemporary menu, the new vibe's pretty much a hodgepodge of Marche's library bookshelves and Gioco's gourmet preserve displays, especially since Kleiner kept the lampshades.
The menu's all class, though, with the appointment of old Gioco chef James Kilberg, and his interpretation of authentic Italiano. He mixes both nonna and nonno-worthy nostalgia like spaghetti handcut with a Chitarra, tossed with a stew-tender beef Bolognese sauce ($15); and a mod, butternut squash ravioli treat, drizzled in saba and crumbled amaretti cookies ($13). Or both new and old world in one shot, as with a grilled pork chop sweetened with honey aside polenta ($20).
Come summer, the new digs will unveil the whole package, flowered by a 6,000-square-foot garden patio that will likely be stocked with near 10-ounce pours of their playful, young wine list. And the bootleg-themed reserves from Room 21 are still intact, should you be wearing your bold mobster threads.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Gavin Paul