Stephanie Izard has been "playing restaurant" since age 10. Back in the day, that meant dreaming up a menu for her friends and family. But as the owner/chef of two-year-old Scylla, she's learned that the restaurant business is no child's play. Garnering critical acclaim for her clean, elegant seafood presentations, Izard's at the top of her game.
After earning two degrees—one in sociology at the University of Michigan and the other from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute—Izard honed her craft of caring for and handling fish while working under Shawn McClain at Spring. She opened her own place in 2005, a red-brick worker's cottage in Bucktown where the arched roof, hardwood floors and window coves still retain the character of a true home. There's a warmth and lived-in aura that reinforces boisterous gatherings of friends and family breaking bread.
Though the opening sizzle simmered over time, Izard's recent retooling of the menu is likely to stir some renewed interest; her goal: to keep entree prices under $20 and make Scylla a more neighborhood-friendly restaurant. While she relies less on luxury ingredients like truffles, Kobe beef or caviar, Izard employs a bit of alchemy, transforming seemingly ordinary pantry items like shallots into a savory, oniony creme brulee custard. The food might cost less, but the flavors and quality are as tremendous as ever before.
What do you wish you could change/pickle about the Chicago restaurant scene?
More places to eat late night than the usual suspects of fast food and Mexican joints.
What would your last meal be?
Sushi and French fries.
Where do you eat before/after a shift?
Arturo's Tacos at Western and Armitage—I usually get the tostado carnitas.
What's the can't-miss dish at your restaurant?
Scallops, but right now I'm very excited about the new spring menu—one of the dishes is the sauteed French gnocchi with manila clams, white asparagus, green garlic, sea beans and a truffle poblano broth.
What should we know about your restaurant that we probably don't?
The menu has changed. Now everything is under $20.