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Dining news: Italian Village, Melrose closes, pizza competition
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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—Italian Village Restaurants, 71 W. Monroe St., announced the appointment of Ozzy Amelotti as executive chef of its contemporary Italian concept, Vivere. Using his French and Argentinian influences, Amelotti's offerings will include polpo alla Carbone ( mesquite charcoal-grilled baby octopus, roasted beets, mixed fresh herbs, shredded fried potato and balsamic glaze ) and bistecca Mama Mia ( mesquite charcoal-grilled 20-ounce USDA Prime Dry aged 30-day bone-in ribeye steak, rosemary roasted potatoes and local farm seasoned vegetables ), among others.

—After 56 years in Lake View, the Melrose Restaurant—an iconic Boystown diner that was open 24 hours daily until 2010—has closed without notice, EaterChicago noted. The restaurant's windows are papered up, the website has disappeared, and GrubHub no longer accepts orders. There's a "for rent" sign in the window, and DNAinfo called the restaurant; a woman told the website that the property was vacant.

—Recently, Gold Coast spots Blue Door Kitchen & Garden and La Storia Ristorante held a pizza competition for members of the media, with attendees casting their votes between Blue Door's Nick's Picks ( pork belly, giardiniera and Jack cheese sauce ) and La Storia's Porchetta di Testa ( onion, mushroom and parmigiano-reggiano ). In the end, La Storia's offering won, leading for the pizza to be put on both restaurants' menus.

—Hard Rock Cafe Chicago, 63 W. Ontario St., has been named one of Hard Rock International's first test kitchen locations in order to showcase hand-crafted, locally inspired menu items and fresh ingredients. Hard Rock Cafe Chicago was selected out of 175 Hard Rock locations around the world, based on the city's unique culinary offerings. Hard Rock Cafe Chicago's local vendors include Turano Baking Company, Get Fresh Produce, and Fortune Fish & Gourmet.

—Morton's Steakhouse, 1050 N. State St., is hosting a Silver Oak & Tworney wine dinner on Thursday, Aug. 17, at 6:30 p.m. Some of the courses will include seared sea scallops with pink grapefruit-brown butter; Manhattan-cut NY strip streak with Blue cheese mashed potatoes and roasted rainbow carrots; and merlot-infused chocolate mousse with lavender. The price is $150 per person, not including tax and gratuity; contact Jessica Richard at or 312-266-4820.

—Restaurants across the United States, along with founding corporate partner United Airlines and Woodford Reserve, will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the late chef Charlie Trotter's eponymous restaurant during the 4th annual Charlie Trotter Days celebration Aug. 17-20 to raise funds for the Pillars of Excellence Mentor Program. To benefit the Trotter Project, which celebrated its third anniversary in June, United Airlines will donate $1 for every Choice Menu Bistro on Board item sold on all domestic flights during the celebration. For the current list of participating restaurants, visit .

—Out To Lunch Hospitality, a brand-new hospitality collective, debuts in Chicago and also brings a new restaurant residency to Logan Square's dining scene. Out To Lunch is led by Creative Director Andrew Miller, an international culinary and food services strategist, as well as Executive Chef Charles Welch ( Sepia, mk Restaurant ). The pair—who garnered critical acclaim in the past year working together at Fulton Market's popular Mediterranean-inspired hot spot Honey's—ecently announced their departure from the restaurant to form their own new partnership.

—South Water Kitchen has a new head bartender: Melissa Carroll, who has debuted her first cocktail menu: a summer-focused list of 13 original cocktails. ( One example is the PB&G—a gin-and-tonic play on Chef Roger Waysock's PB&J Grilled Cheese, composed of Plymouth Gin, Verjus Blanc, lavender syrup, lemon-verbena syrup, blueberries and tonic. )

—Chef/owner Gabriele Bonci, of Rome-based Bonci Pizzarium, will open the doors to his first U.S. location of the pizzeria in Chicago in mid-August at 161 N. Sangamon St. According to a press release, "guests will experience a one-of-a-kind artisanal pizza cut by the slice with scissors ( al taglio-style ), along with other seasonal menu selections." Pizzas will include egg, bacon and pecorino cheese; and hummus, broccoli, olives and tomato pesto.

—Grassroots Eatery, 3747 N. Southport Ave., has a three-course prix fixe meal available every night for $25. The courses involve soup/salad; pan-roasted rainbow trout, pork tenderloin or spring vegetable risotto; and S'more chocolate pot de creme or Michigan blueberry hand pie. See .

—Completing the Travelle "Chef Collab" dinner series on Thursday, Aug. 17, Travelle Kitchen + Bar's Chef Ricardo Jarquin opens his kitchen to Tanta Chef Jesus Delgado to collaborate. The event ( at 330 N. Wabash Ave. ) will feature two dishes from each chef, and will start at 6 p.m. The price is $65, excluding tax and gratuity; call 312-923-7705.

—Green Curtain Events is holding the 2nd annual Tacos y Tamales Festival on Aug. 18-20, with the main festival entrance at 16th and Peoria streets in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. Regarding entertainment, there will be two performance stages featuring live music throughout the weekend, with traditional acts during the day, interactive dance performances and lessons, and higher energy Latin rock into the night. There is a $5 suggested donation upon entry; visit .

—During the weekend of the Chicago Air & Water Show ( Aug. 19-20 ), Joy District, 112 W. Hubbard St., is offering a $20 sake flight featuring Tyku Silver, Tyku Black and Tyku Coconut. Patrons can pair the flight with items from Executive Chef Matthew Wilde's Asian-fusion menu like Asian BBQ duck steamed buns, poached shrimp and cucumber salad, sake-poached Scottish salmon and more. See .

—On Sunday, Aug. 20, at 5:30 p.m., Oyster Bah, 1920 N. Halsted St., will host an oyster roast, leading to a champagne and Chesapeake fried-chicken dinner as well as peach slab for dessert. The evening costs $39.95 per person ( exclusive of tax and gratuity ). Call 773-248-3000.

—On Monday, Aug. 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., I/O Chicago, 127 W. Huron St., will have a solar-eclipse viewing party. ( The eclipse is slated to start at approximately 11:54 a.m. ) Executive Chef Nathaniel Cayer celebrates this occasion by crafting The Eclipse, a special frozen cocktail that goes from light to dark. Guests will be seated on a first-come, first-serve basis to the free event. ( Food and beverage packages vary in price. )

—The 10th Annual Slow Food Vegetarian Harvest Dinner will take place Wed., Aug. 23, at 6 p.m. at Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon Ave. ( Greenstar Organic Brewery is co-hosting. ) Items will includes appetizers; smoked carrot-and-organic wheat berry salad; heirloom tomato-and-scallion shortcake; charred sweet corn risotto-stuffed poblano chilies; and crispy rosewater meringue. Tickets are $84.83 each ( including tax and gratuity ); visit

—An heirloom tomato dinner with Nick Nichols of Nichols Farm & Orchard will take place Thursday, Aug. 24, at 6:30 p.m. at Osteria Via Stato, 620 N. State St. Guests can meet the farmer while enjoying a selection of passed appetizers before sitting down for a multi-course dinner with wine pairings. The cost is $68 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Call 312-642-8450 to RSVP.

—The Logan Square Food Truck Social will return Aug. 25-27. The 2017 Logan Square Food Truck Social ( ) will feature 24 food trucks per day in addition to a showcase of local restaurant and retail vendors. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Illinois Food Truck Owners Association and La Casa Norte / Northwest Food Partners Network.

—The Taste of Greektown returns for its 28th year on Friday-Sunday, Aug. 25-27, and will take place on the 400 block of South Halsted Street. A newer component will be the second annual Gyro Eating Contest at 6 p.m. on Saturday. ( Participants must be 21 or older. ) Fest hours are 4-11 p.m. on Friday and 12-11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. A $5 gate donation for adults benefits the Chicago Greektown Chamber of Commerce. See .

—On Tuesday, Aug. 29, 6-9 p.m., Eataly ( for its next Quattro Mani ) will welcome NAHA Chef/owner Carrie Nahabedian. Her pizza will be topped with Luleh kebab spiced lamb, Armenian string cheese and Greek Feta, wood-roasted Tropea onions, Kalamata olives, thyme, and sprinkled with Istanbul spice market salt. See

—The Neo-Futurists present Ensemble Member Dan Kerr-Hobert's The Food Show, partnering with Metropolitan Brewing to bring the site-specific world premiere to the brewery's new Avondale location, 3057 N. Rockwell Ave., through Saturday, Sept. 2. A press release says, "The Food Show, created by Dan Kerr-Hobert with the help of his cousin and Neo-Futurist alum Caitlin Stainken, explores how food brings us together and sets us apart." Tickets are $10-25; visit or call 773-275-5255.

—Nando's PERi-PERi—the South African-Portuguese restaurant known for its spicy flame-grilled chicken—celebrates the opening of its flagship Chicago restaurant on Monday, Sept. 4, at 155 N. Michigan Ave. This new and highest profile location, at Michigan Avenue and Lake Street, will mark the 12th Nando's to open in and around Chicago over the past two years.

—The 17th annual Kohler Food & Wine Experience will take place Oct. 19-22 in Kohler, Wisconsin. The chef line-up includes Richard Blais, Alex Guarnaschelli, Stephanie Izard, Jeff Mauro and cast members from America's Test Kitchen. See .

—The James Beard Foundation ( JBF ) has announced that tickets for the fifth anniversary year of the Taste America national culinary tour are now on sale at Chicago's itinerary will kick off on Friday, Oct. 27, at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago with "A Night of Culinary Stars." On Saturday, Oct. 28, free in-store consumer events will take place at Sur La Table, 900 N. Michigan Ave.

—Kendall College Trust's ( KCT's ) Fried Chicken & Champagne Fest will take place Saturday, Nov. 4, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the college's Skyline Room. A dozen of Chicago's award-winning chefs ( including Acadia's Ryan McCaskey and Monteverde's Sarah Grueneberg ) will make their best chicken renditions, while KCT Executive Director and Check, Please! host Catherine De Orio will host. Admission is $85-$195; visit

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