Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"A Warm Welcome Back" for Gioco

It's been a crazy year for Gioco, but based on a recent review on Chicagobusiness.com, the restaurant has rebounded nicely:
Everyone should recover from dust-ups with the tax man as gracefully as 12-year-old Gioco, one of the city's most charming Italian ristorantes, which closed and reopened this year following an unfortunate run-in with the state.

That seems appropriate, given the colorful past of this former gambling house and speakeasy once frequented by Al Capone and famed brothel owners the Everleigh sisters.

On a slow day you might get a tour through the lower level where, our server/history major says, Mr. Capone built tunnels to ferry bootleg liquor out to Lake Michigan and to store the odd body or two.

But even from one of the 150 seats upstairs, the past is present in the worn brick and plaster walls, bordello-like red plush banquettes and fringed lampshades above the bar.
The article continues on by specifically calling out the new executive chef, Gaetano Ascione:
Never have I seen a chef go table to table at lunch with a tray of portobello mushrooms—or anything else—enticing guests to order an off-the-menu special that arrives as meaty and smoky as steak, sautéed simply with olive oil and garlic ($12).

He surprised us again, bringing us samples of the Japanese Kurobuta pork belly, the Kobe beef of the porcine world. The meat is incomparably tender, the five-spice sauce dark and complex (when it's available, the appetizer is $14; main course $28).
This is great to hear. Hope all goes well with Gioco and it continues to flourish.

(Hat tip: ND!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is the history on this building correct? I thought that was the story of the old Room 21 building further South.